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Teen motherhood turned orphan's life upside down

Turning Point

Cynthia Barasa, 25, lost her mother in 2007, just after she had turned 12.

She was a Standard Six pupil at Masindu Friends Yearly Meeting (FYM) primary school in Bungoma County. Her three younger sisters were in lower primary but in different schools.

Ms Barasa would trek for over three hours to and from their home at Khanyiririsi village in Lugari Constituency, Kakamega County to Masindu Primary School.

After a short while, her father, Daniel Ovendo remarried. He later died in 2017. "The moment my father remarried, my life changed completely," she said.

She claimed that the stepmother started mistreating them to the point of denying them food "but our father turned a blind eye on our plight even when we reported to him what was happening."

"Most of the time I could go to school hungry and spent the whole day without eating anything since I had no money," recalled Barasa.

She adds: "When my fellow pupils went for lunch, I remained behind because going home would take me three hours, besides, it would have been meaningless going back because I would not be given food anyway."

Early relationship

Circumstances pushed her into an early relationship and she got a boyfriend while in Class Seven. The boyfriend was a class eight pupil in a neighbouring school in their village.

Ms Barasa said the boyfriend gave her a shoulder to lean on and offered her Sh100 every weekend.  "The money could last me a whole week, I spent it on breakfast and lunch while in school."

"My boyfriend was everything to me, he comforted me and that is why I easily gave in to his sexual advances ending up pregnant at the age of 13 years," she said.

She adds: "I was chased away by my father for bringing shame to the family, being the firstborn daughter. My siblings also denounced me and I sought asylum at one of our relatives' places just to protect my pregnancy which my family wanted terminated."

Barasa found it hard living with the relative and opted to go back home where she sneaked into a neighbour's unused kitchen and converted it into her new home.

The owner was based in Nairobi.

"He was informed by villagers that I had moved into his kitchen but they explained my situation to him and he sympathised with me and gave me the go-ahead to stay.

She later gave birth to a baby boy and continued to live alone. Her boyfriend also abandoned her. 

Look for work

Barasa had to look for work to earn some money for upkeep. She went to work as a house help at Moi Barracks in Eldoret where she used to earn Sh1,000 per month. That was in mid-2009.

"My boss was a Somali businessman whose house hosted at least 15 people on top of his family," said Barasa saying she used to wake up as early as 4 am and go to bed at around 10.30 pm exhausted every day.

She avers that despite her struggles, all she wanted was food and shelter. She worked there for six months.

Barasa could save Sh500 every month and send the balance to his father.  "One day my stepmother called to inform me that my father had been taken ill and that he was in a critical condition. I sent her all my savings."

That morning she terminated her employment and went back home to nurse her 'ailing' father but to her surprise, she found him and the stepmother on the farm working.

Barasa claims that when the money she had sent to them five days earlier was over, they disowned her again.

She ended up getting married again. She gave birth to two more children. She is now taking care of her three children and three siblings. Her wish is to become a police officer. 

Her only hope now is that the Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi will honour his pledge of paying her school fees so that her dream can become a reality. 


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