LBJ School of Public Affairs

Thinkers & Doers

LBJ SCHOOL SUMMER INTERNSHIPS

Ridiculed Responsibility

Jambo!

I’ve enjoyed a highly productive week here in Kenya. The majority of this week’s time was spent in meetings with partner organizations and KIDS’ board members.

One of my board members, Yvonne, shared a story with me about a girl attending one of the primary schools in Kajiado that is too heartbreaking not to share.

Charity, 18, was raped by a cousin almost five years ago. She now has a four-year-old daughter who is being raised by a variety of relatives. Ridiculed for having a child while unmarried, regardless of the circumstances, and refusing to accept an arranged marriage with a man then three times her age, Charity found herself outcast from her family.

She now lives with Yvonne’s mother, who encouraged her to return to school. Given Charity’s skill level, she was placed in Class 2 upon her return to school. Though embarrassed to attend class with seven and eight-year-olds, Charity has persevered and is close to completing Class 4 this year. Unfortunately, her family is unsupportive of her return to school and speak critically of her in front of her young daughter.

When you ask the young daughter about her mother she scorns, “My mother is 18. She had me at only 14 years and now she’s only in Class 4 with the babies at the same school as me.”

In an attempt to take responsibility and create opportunities for a better life for her and her daughter, Charity meets ridicule at every turn. She cleans houses to earn money for her daughter and both of their school expenses in addition to attending class Monday-Friday.

These are the young women we’re trying to reach and encourage. What a lonely journey when even your own daughter scorns you. These girls should earn respect, not ridicule, for their attempt at taking responsibility for their own futures.

lriemer
posted by lriemer in 2011 and have Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Ridiculed Responsibility”

  1. John Medina '83 says:

    Thank you for sharing such an incredible story. Thank you also for taking the time and energy to use your talents in such a humane manner. LBJ would be very proud of your efforts.

    John Medina
    Class of ’83

  2. DOROTHY says:

    I doubt that a 4 year old child would talk to her mother like that. That is not our culture and our 4 year old’s in Kenya think like 2 year old’s in the Western World. So whoever told you that that little girl talked to her mother like that did not tell you the truth. Children never talk back to their mothers at that young age.

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