TRAPPED IN A SNARE
I am Jane Iskah Oyora, a second Born in a family of 16....
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Grace (not her real name) was born and brought up in Homa Bay. She is a mother of six children. She grew up in a Polygamous family with her mother being the second wife. Her father favoured the first wife putting so much pressure on her at a tender age.
In a short while she lost her father, then her step mother and eventually her own mother. Life became so hard for her young self.
Grace had to move to her grandmother’s house within the same village. She left school at that point too as it was no longer tenable for her to continue with her studies while orphaned. Unfortunately, Grace become pregnant while a teenager adding salt to injury.
She was to soon give birth to her first born at the age she was supposed to be in class 8. She left the infant with her grandmother and came to Nairobi to look for a job as a house manager, or a maid. She worked in Kigwa area of Kiambu for slightly over a year until the unfortunate death of her employer in a fatal road accident.
She would therefore seek employment in Kibera where she started to work for another woman in Bombolulu area of Kibra. While at it, she would make visits upcountry to visit her now growing first born child. During her visits she got pregnant with her second born child. She had no knowledge of her pregnancy and she did not find out until her employer in Bombolulu noticed a change in her mannerisms. Her employer gave her leave to go back home and give birth.
She got pregnant again with her third born before the second was three months old. She had to go back to her workplace while still breastfeeding her third born. This resulted in a salary cut as it affected her output.
At one-point a middle aged man attempted to defile her three-year-old daughter. He was arrested and the only people who gave Lilian emotional and mental support were her step brother, and a group of local women mobilized by Madam Jane Anyango, the proprietor of Polycom development Project.
The daughter’s perpetrator was jailed, albeit for a short term. Lilian’s step brother would soon die leaving her alone. At 22 years of age, aside from seeking companionship and somewhere to call “home”, she saw marriage as an avenue out of poverty and she therefore fell in love with a married man who later took her in as the second wife and took her to Kisumu.
She therefore was from the start marked as an enemy by the first wife who was jealous of her and she would be intentional in bringing trouble to Grace’s house. She was subjected to emotional torture from her husband and co-wife.
Due to the poverty at their boma, Grace decided to move to Nairobi to seek greener pastures.
Nairobi seemed better because of liquid money, business is purely transactional with limited credit selling and also the presence of promising education opportunities for her children.
While in Nairobi, Grace narrates how she has managed to do odd jobs for survival, apart from being a mitumba reseller. Her children, especially the eldest son, also helps in her business. He rears chicken and pigeons that he sells in order to offset the fee balances that his mother cannot help with.
Grace has known trauma for such a long time in her life that as she narrates you can see her presence distant. At one point we had to call her name twice to shake her off her world. This we presume is her comfort space.
As she strives to survive, her main issue, however, is the payment of school fees and rent, which her husband, a boat repairer along the shores of Lake Victoria, commits to helping every time she raises the issue, however, he doesn’t.
Her husband does not cater for any of their needs.
He has never paid despite the many promises. Grace thinks that this could be as a result of him seeing that she has always managed to sort the needs by herself. Whenever the kids call him asking for money he would lie his way out and make a promise only for it not to be fulfilled.
Grace sees this as emotional manipulation and has therefore decided to cut him off and struggle by herself. She is still committed to her marriage because of their children and the fact that she has no one at home surviving.
Her first born in secondary school has an agreement with the teachers for late payment of fees and her second born in class 8, is in a Government sponsored school while her third born in class 7 is on sponsorship courtesy of a local Civil Society. She struggles with the rest at home besides tiring herself for rent.
Occasionally, her husband has visited her house in Nairobi but is embarrassed to spend there.
Nevertheless, Grace is hopeful that the struggle she goes through in paying for fees will not be fruitless. She envisions a situation where her husband will come demanding credit for the upbringing of the kids once they are deemed as successful.
Her business is picking up and she occasionally manages to bring her kids niceties. She says she has to raise her kids so that they feel like other kids. She has an entrepreneurial spirit inside of her and were it not for the lack of capital, she would stop working for someone and focus on expanding her business.