Nowhere to Go
Once married, women from Kisii in west Kenya cannot go back to their mother’s home. No matter what the reasons, if they lose their husbands, they are condemned to a no-man’s land of social limbo.
Rosemary fears how she will provide as a single mum for her children & grandchildren
Rosemary Ogembo, 49, was working hard as a tea picker on Unilever’s tea estate. As a single mother, she was proud to be doing fine on her own, supporting her children single-handedly.
Although her husband had committed a serious crime, because she had split from her husband, it was Rosemary that had to leave her home town. She travelled across the country to find a job to support herself and her family.
When the brutal and indiscriminate violence hit after the disputed election results in Kenya, Rosemary was forced to flee the tea estate, losing her job and her only means of supporting her children.
She said, “On 1st January, after I’d gone to Church, when coming back along the road I got near to my house and I heard a lot of noise. They were burning houses, there was a lot of smoke. When we got home, we found our house had already been burnt. We saved nothing.”
“I was quite helpless. All my children had nothing apart from the dresses they had on. We felt unsafe so we went into the tea plantation and hid. I witnessed many terrible things, I can’t forget. I thank God I’m still alive, I could have been killed.
“I could be dead by now if we didn’t get this help. Where could I have gone? Maybe I would have been moving up and down looking for help.”
For safety she fled back to her home area, but despite the traumatic and distressing events she has suffered, she has no-one to turn to.
Her parents have passed away, and her brothers have inherited their land, but when she went back home, her brothers told her there was no place for her and her children. It makes her very bitter.
She goes out everyday to seek labour, but often comes back empty-handed. Her children have been forced to leave school to look for work.
“Things are better now that I’m in this house, but I have constraint of finding rent every month, which I can’t raise, unless I get a better business base. Sometimes we don’t find work. I’m trying, I go out and look for work. I have been fetching water for people in jerrycans, I get 5 shillings, which is not enough for family.”
“My wish is that I could get a job, at end of each month I could be assured, or could get money to lease own farm, or money to get a small business.
“If you come back in three months, I’ll still be here, but I hope that Jesus will open the way for me. I may be able to get a small job that will help me move on with life.”
Caritas membersare supporting Rosemary, her six children and five grandchildren with food, containers to collect water, cooking pots and other essentials.
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