In rural Africa, it is normal for girls and women to go and fetch firewood in the forest to provide cooking fuel for the family. However, what should have been a normal trip to the forest in search of firewood turned tragic for 16 year old Mary (not her real name). The events of that day will forever remain etched in her mind as what happened next changed her life forever and continue to do so until something is done to interrupt her circumstances. How can we transform her life from that of fear and failure to one of hope and success?

Mary (not her real name) was born in 2001 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is 16 years old. Her mother is deceased and her father lives in the Congo with her two younger sisters and 2 brothers. From the information shared by Mary, one would conclude that she is of a poor economic background, her only surviving parent being a peasant farmer with 5 children to feed. unfortunately, in 2015, her father was shot in the leg by armed militia who attacked him thereby incapacitating him from fending for his children. Since then the children work in neighbours farms to earn their daily bread as part of their daily chores. Mary has studied basic education and speaks French – DRC is Anglophone and had not completed her ‘O’ levels by the time she left home.

Last year in 2016, Mary remembers going to the nearby forest to fetch firewood and two men kidnapped her and blindfolded her. They defiled her sexually for one week and then left her for the dead. On regaining consciousness, Mary managed to run away to her friends house from where she was taken to the hospital. After discharge, filled with shame and guilt for what had happened to her, Mary was unable to face her poor father and opted to run away from home. When she left the hospital, her friend and neighbor connected her to a ‘good samaritan’ who brought her to Kenya(kayole) and while in Nairobi, she was connected to the chairman of the Congolese community in Kenya who in turn referred her to the Medicines San Frontiers Clinic in Mathare for treatment and according to the tests that were carried out she was found to be pregnant for 34weeks and two days. At the clinic, she was examined and treated and later referred to TAGS for further care and protection.

A brave young woman, Mary is now 17 years old and is a mother of a bouncing baby boy who was delivered after a complicated birth process. We are happy to support both mother and child and provide them with the necessary support for their growth and development.

‘my dream is to take a course in catering so that I can help myself and my child and eventually go back home to assist my family’ Mary says.