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Lenny’s baby made 7!

Lenny in her office

I spoke with her on April 2nd when I was visiting my family in Mubende, Uganda. She said, “I had a very handsome boy. He is turning 7 today.” Her eyes were bright with love, mine with unshed tears and admiration.

Lenny Kebirungi was sitting in her office in Mubende’s Gender-Based Violence Shelter. I asked her why she did what she did and she said “because I am a survivor. I know exactly how women feel, what happens to their minds, souls and bodies.” That was seventeen years ago. Now she tells the story with shiny eyes and I worry that I am making her remember a sad time. She draws lines on a piece of paper on the table, and I worry. That’s what I do when I am anxious. I draw lines on a paper. She then looks up, with bright eyes- bright with unshed tears and love- and says, “They were wrong. I have a very handsome boy. He is turning 7 today.”

As a victim, Lenny had endured abuse from her husband and from her in-laws because she did not produce a child. A woman in society cannot be let to not have a child. That is what she is there for, they think. They called her barren. They called her useless. It could not have been easy for her because she had no idea either why she could not have the child. Many women are punished for reasons that remain a mystery to them too. Where a male partner could be a source of comfort and a companion to the hospital, he instead offers more pain in place of the support he pledged. “There are many reasons one fails to produce a child,” she tells me and launches into a lecture about poverty limiting the woman in a patriarchal society.

This kind of society already dictates that “a man is a man, and a woman must be a woman.” With such power relations in the home where a man determines the fate of the woman, there is need for the woman to be in a position to support herself. She needs to access justice through the usual channels- government and police, and if she must go for a health check-up, she needs money to access medical resources as well. This is why Lenny started, alongside 29 other women, WIDCCOM- Women In Developmental Concerns Coalition Mubende. WIDCCOM now has a program called Income Generating Activity (IGA) where women are given loans to start businesses. They are also invited to a workshop where they are trained in business management and accounting. She proudly says, “There have been reports that there are fewer quarrels in homes.” The woman with money is more respected in the home. She helps with bills and is therefore important.

It is amazing what Lenny is doing in the community, with what she knows- from experience, education and networking. She stood up for herself and now she stands up for the other women in the community. That she walked away from an abusive relationship alone is a sign of bravery. That she healed and returned to help other women, now that, that is what a s-hero is.

(Lenny's story was first shared at WorldPulse by Grace Ikirimat here Read Grace's post for more information on Lenny.)



ikirimat's picture

Hi Rebecca, Im excited you

Hi Rebecca, Im excited you share your moments of interaction with Lenny, She is such an inspiration. Lenny is a changing lives and I can assure you that she has impacted on many lives.

I wish Lenny and her son many more years of happiness and prosperity as she changes lives in her community.
Thx for connecting Rebecca.

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."

Rebecca R's picture

She truly is

Lenny truly is an inspiration. A woman like her should be celebrated everyday, everywhere.

I sent her the story you wrote on her and she cried, reading it and the comments that followed. She was re-energised. Here, this is what she said: "It is now that I realize the power there is in ''breaking the silence". I cannot tell you how I now feel after reading such empowering and breathtaking comments! I would read, take a sigh of relief, read again, feel like you mean the world can appreciate the breaking of this silence? and read again as I ask myself unanswered questions......"

I thought you would appreciate seeing that message :-)


ikirimat's picture

I am humbled

OMG Rebecca,
Thank you so much,
This is the most striking and touching feedback I have ever received from my writing. I feel humbled. I am glad this little act of voicing her work has given Lenny more energy in changing women lives.

God bless Nelly,

God bless a woman

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."

jacollura's picture

Thank you!

Thank you for writing and thank you to Lenny for her bravery and perseverance. Happy birthday to her son!

Rebecca R's picture

You're welcome

You're welcome, Julie. I like happy stories and Lenny's showed perseverance and also, success. Her story was first shared here by Grace and since I recently saw her (Lenny), I wanted to give an update to the story.

Our story as women has been a difficult one. And when a woman like Lenny has a happy moment like this, we must celebrate it. It reminds us that there is light, that there are success stories, and that there are women are leading desirable lives in spite of societal biases.

Did not intend to leave such a long reply, but I feel strongly about this. I am sure you know how that goes :-)


Aminah's picture

Thank you for this share Rebecca.

We are getting to read such inspiring stories that our own diminishes in its cruelness.
It give a strong message to us, to me - they have done it, they have overcome it, you can too.

We might have our individual issues and problems and demons. But what is common is that when we are alone, the issues looks gigantic. When shared it is manageable and livable and can be overcome.

Thank you



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