NO TURNING BACK
The contagious smile from Janet Suyianka can tell it all. Janet, 19 years old and a third born in a family of nine has this to say, “I have seen some light at the end of the tunnel”. Born to Masaai peasant farmers Agnes Suyianka, 64 years old and Ole Soyianka Pardiyo, 82 years old from Elbisil sub-location, Kajiado County, Kenya Janet was being forced into marriage at the age of 9 years by the father as this is a common practice in Masaai-land. She was to be married to a 60 years old man. Her marriage was to economically raise the family who did not have any goats or cows and considered one of the poorest homesteads in the area.
This did not go well with Janet. She had always admired going to school and becoming a useful person to her community after her studies. This is a chance she had been denied by her parents though she had been asking for it since she was 7 years old. None of her siblings had ever been enrolled in a school.
Age did not stop Janet from making a decision that has changed her life completely. Two days to the D-day Janet woke up at 4.00 a.m i.e. before dawn and ran for a distance of 4 kilometers to seek help from the government offices at Bissil divisional headquarters. She had this to say “Nothing could stop me from running for assistance, I did not worry whether I would meet with a monster or not, I was fully determined to run away from the early marriage.”
“Luckily, I managed to locate the government offices and within the same day I was admitted in Kajiado School and Rescue Centre, a center that supports runaway girls from FGM or early marriages. I started my class one education and completed my primary education in the same facility. My parents apologized for what they had planned and decided to take my small sisters to school with no plans of marrying them off.”
Janet is now in her final year in Bissil secondary school and plans of becoming a nurse in future. “If it was not for the help and support of ADRA Germany, I would be an illiterate and poor mother with more than seven children.”
“Although I was privileged to get daily provisions of food, it hurts that my family back at home can only afford to have one meal a day because of the drought. Sometimes they go for days without a single meal. ADRA gave us food enough to last us over a month! What more can I ask for in a family where we have not had any stock of food?”
Kajiado is among the 23 counties in Kenya that has been seriously affected by drought. Being a pastoralist community, the Maasai wholly depend on their livestock for milk, meat and blood. To them death of livestock is like the collapse of the banks. Their economy revolves around their animals. Parents have nothing to give to their children, and some students who attend day school are dropping out of school due to lack of food. The most vulnerable are the young girls who are at the risk of being married off even across counties where they the pastoralists find cows.
ADRA Kenya in partnership with ADRA Germany came to the aid of the Bissil community With this emergency food distribution, ADRA intend to target the most vulnerable families and homes that have been identified by the local chiefs, local church and the Tawanga Women group. Janet’s parents have not been spared by the drought.