Eunice, the youngest of 12 children, had to quit school because her family couldn’t pay her school fees. So, in 2007, she was excited to learn her aunt had found a job for her in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. When her aunt wasn’t at the bus station to meet her, she decided to try to find her sister, who lived somewhere in the city. This is her story.
“When I opened my eyes, light was peeping from the small window near the bed. I was feeling unusual and in a lot of pain—it was morning. The man warned me to never mention him to anyone.
I had met him on the bus the day before. When I told him my story—and that I was trying to find my sister in Nairobi—he said she was his friend and neighbor, so I followed him home. … When he told me he had gone to my sister’s house and the door was locked, my heart was broken. Because it was 11 p.m. and I had nowhere to go, I agreed to spend the night there. He gave me juice, but in the back of my mind I was calculating where I would sleep since he had a single room. When I finished the juice, I started feeling dizzy, tired and very sleepy.
He raped me.
When I awoke, he threatened to kill me and my whole family if I told anyone what had happened. He gave me a little bit of money and escorted me back to the bus. He called me all sorts of names and carelessly told me to ‘go heal my wounds.’ I cried so bitterly and went back to my mother. I couldn’t tell her I was raped, so I lied and said a Good Samaritan gave me a place to sleep. I didn’t think she would believe me if I told her; she would probably have thought I did it for money out of desperation.
After three months, I showed signs of pregnancy and was forced to tell my mother the truth. When my father heard it, he chased me away and threatened that if I continued living there, he would kill my mother and me. He beat my mother so badly—breaking her arms—so I decided to leave so that my mother could have peace.
Not knowing where to go, I stood in the bus station, crying. A woman saw my tears and wanted to know what was wrong. After hearing my story, she invited me to her house. While I again thanked God, I also feared something would happen to me. She told me she was a Christian and would give me work in her friend’s shop. I stayed with her until I was able to pay $1.25 a month rent for my own place.
With the little money I was earning, I decided to abort the child. The doctor in a nearby clinic gave me medicine and said the fetus would come out sometime at night, but instead I felt a lot of pain throughout the day. I went to the hospital and was given something to neutralize the medicine. I was counseled not to abort the baby—I was carrying a blessing.
I went back to my house and decided no matter what, I would give birth to my child; I knew God would provide for me. By the time I was seven months pregnant, I had bought some utensils in my small house and a scarf to carry my child. I worked hard in a small shop until I was nine months pregnant and the work became too hard. I washed laundry and waited for the day to deliver.
By the grace of God, I delivered my son without complications. I didn’t have any clothes to dress him after birth, only the scarf I bought. When I told the doctors the whole story, they gave me money to buy food. My son and I left for our home early in the morning. After three days, I had to leave my child in the house to search for money. I went to where I used to wash clothes and was given a job. I was in a lot of pain, but had no option but to work. I continued living like that.
The man from the bus—the rapist—reappeared one day and told me that he knew every detail about my family and if I at any time talked to the police, I should be ready to lose everyone. I had no option but to abide. Eventually, I got another job selling spare parts. I earned about $38 per month. I also continued washing part–time.
After two years, I had saved $25 and my mother gave me $75 so I could begin college.
The man heard that I was attending the university and resolved to destroy my life. In May 2010, I came home and saw him at my doorstep. He said, ‘I have raped 101 women after I raped you.’ He grabbed me and I fought back while he beat me. The man said if I didn’t have sex with him, he would kill my baby. A neighbor heard me scream and came to my rescue. I took my baby back to the village to my mother but soon brought him back home. I feared my father would kill my baby because I had had him out of wedlock.
I hope when I am done with my studies that I can find a decent paying job so I can afford my son’s education and take care of my mother who has helped me this far. To other raped women—I encourage you not to abort. That child might be your source of happiness, just as my son is for me.”
Nikole Lim graduated with a degree in Film Production from Loyola Marymount University and resides near San Francisco and works with inner–city youth. Nikole speaks on stories of women’s empowerment in Africa, the role of filmmaking and photography in advocacy and the transformational art of storytelling. She is also the founder of Freely in Hope.