Story by Women Rights Initiative
This is K on the afternoon of the 27th of June 2022. She is 16 years old, loves history and dreams of one day becoming a lawyer. In her arms she is holding her daughter Hamira, who she gave birth to just that morning.
Before her pregnancy, K was living with her father and uncle. Her father is an alcoholic and is rarely in the picture, along with her mother. It is her uncle that works to support K and her brother, as well as his own children. When K’s father and uncle found out about her pregnancy, it led to a lot of anger. She remembers her uncle yelling at her saying ‘How could you do such a thing?’, as well as blaming her for the pregnancy: ‘If it is not your fault, who’s else is it?’. She was told she was no longer allowed to stay at home, and the situation escalated to her being beaten.
Fearing for her life, K ran away from home and stayed with a series of friends. Eventually out of options, she found herself sitting on the side of the road, when a woman from the neighborhood stopped to talk to her. She asked her ‘Where is your home?’ to which K replied, ‘I don’t have [one]’. The woman proceeded to bring K to the Women’s Rights Initiative office, from where she was processed and brought to the Nyonga Women’s Shelter.
K spent one month at the Nyonga Women’s Shelter. She recalls feeling happy there. She remembers that her favorite part was participating in the various activities, such as sewing and gardening, and the skills she gained from this. After her time at the shelter, K returned to her home. It is here that she is staying with her newborn baby, sharing the space with 6 of her cousins, her brother, and her uncle.
K recalls that when she was pregnant, she wished to give the baby away to anybody who would want it. At the hospital she told the doctors ‘I don’t want to look at that baby… I don’t want to feed her’. Now that she is home, she feels excited for her daughter’s future. In terms of her own future, K dreams of being able to continue her education. She mentions her friends calling her and asking her to come back to class. However, without anybody to currently take care of the baby, K’s ability to continue her education is uncertain.
She is left in a cramped home, with a family who initially turned her away, without any support from the baby’s father. K represents just one of many young mothers who have spent time at the Nyonga Women’s Shelter.