Loving what I do, and knowing it matters
This week I attended forum on engaging men on Sexual Gender Based Violence for South Sudan. We had interesting discussions with about 30 participants, male and female working for different organizations in South Sudan. As we shared experiences of SGBV it struck me that cases of SGBV are almost similar in different parts of the Africa. This is just one of the challenges faced by women and girls in different parts of the world. While women and boys face their myriad forms of challenges, I find myself touched by the plight of women and girls. My work in the social work area for over 10 years now has put me into contact with various categories of women and girls, most of who have left a mark in my life.
Amina* is a young girl who was defiled at the age of 13 years and got pregnant. She did not know what was happening to her until she was chased away from home for being a ‘prostitute’. Cate* is a young woman who was aged 24 years when her employer raped her and she spent several years pursuing justice. That was after she had experienced the side effects of Post Exposure Prophylaxis and yet she count herself lucky that she knew what to do and had access to the services. Jackline* is a young girl I met when working on life skills for youth targeting pre-teen girls and boys. She was somehow fascinated by my name and decided we exchange names so she can be Sophie! She was an orphaned nine year old talkative girl, but something was amiss, she was too talkative and had very ‘adult’ language during the sessions. On raising this concern we investigated and found out that she was perpetually experiencing sexual abuse by a neighbor.
I was overwhelmed on meeting young women who had participated in mentorship forums in a program I had been working in back in Kenya. One woman commented “my life will never be the same”. She went ahead to demonstrate the transformation that had happened in her life and I was so touched. I was touched by interacting with university ladies who had such great passion for leadership! They were going against the grain to claim positions which had informally been set as ‘male positions’. I recall one gender training when Peter*, a middle aged man stood up after doing 24hour analysis of gender roles “Madam it is like us men behave like we are completely incapable, you mean women do all this work? And then we claim to be heads…” Yes he got ‘it’. I have aha moments as I mentor girls in school. This is what drives me, it is what will make me sleep late at night, wake up early in the morning and feel inspired. Sometimes I can make a difference and sometimes I am overwhelmed by what I see. However, it is clear to me that when I do my part that is enough. I carry with me my primary school motto is that “whatever I do, I do it to my best”, even if my best is very minimal.
World pulse has given me a unique tool, words. I use words to connect with others, to learn, to gain ideas, to share and vent and give me energy to move on. I believe that this world will never be safe until all women and girls are safe. It seems often like an uphill task, but I know my space in it and I am not taking that space for granted. I am currently working in South Sudan, among women and that is core to my passion. Most of the participants can barely read or write, in fact a large percent are illiterate. Their voices may never be heard in a global world, but through the use of written word, I can contribute in being their voice. My desire to be part of the VOF is also to learn and be mentored. I am a mentor to many, and I seek to be mentored. The experience will enable me polish my analytical, leadership and writing skills while having a sister to walk with me.
I am part of the ‘pulse’ for this world!