Meat to a Veggie

I didn’t ask for this. As a matter of fact if I could go back in time I would change quite a lot of things. However, the show must go on.

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I’m just another hungry young pip looking to make ends meet. I am the firstborn in my family. It’s a small family. Just 4 other siblings and my mum. I have never known who my father really is, in fact my siblings and I are only related because of our mother. We are all from different men. But who can blame her, she had to look for ways to feed her family.

In case you haven’t figured it out, my mum is a sex worker, prostitute, or whatever term you’d like to use. Not for one bit do I judge my mummy for what she does, I, however, hate her for introducing me to this life. Sometimes I feel like I should just hang myself but my little siblings are the ones who keep me going. I have to stay. I have to see them get an education. I have to ensure that none of them get into this life. So yes, I am also a prostitute. But not your regular kind.

I often look back at that night I first had sex and wonder what would be different about my life if that did not happen. Maybe I wouldn’t have known about this other side of me. Maybe I’d have lived for years unhappy and unsatisfied with what I was getting because I preferred meat to a veggie.

Our house was my mummy’s “office”. Her clients would step in, get their service and go away. I, on the other hand, was just an earshot away. It was a single room separated only by a thin curtain. I’d listen and hear how the men moaned with pleasure and this sort of aroused me.

One night, as I was lying in bed with Tommy, my little brother, she pulled the thin curtain. Behind her stood a big well-dressed chap. “Now listen to me,” mummy started, “This nice man doesn’t want people like me, he prefers people like you. So you’ll just allow him to do what he wants with you, because we need the money.”

Reluctantly I agreed. I didn’t know what else I could do. Tommy was really ill so I understood that we needed the money. But was it fair for mummy to throw me under the bus like that? I don’t remember much about that night, I chose to forget it. I do remember though, the pain. I remember that is when I started hating my mother.  I also remember that I did enjoy it.

***********

I’m looking at myself in the mirror. I almost cannot recognise who is looking back at me.
“Hey!”

A voice brings me back to reality. It’s Bruce. My Tuesday squeeze. He’s amazing and funny and intelligent. It’s not easy to get a man like that nowadays.

“We doing this or what?”

“Yeah. Just give me a second. I’m putting on a condom.”

“We don’t have all night Allan. I have to get back to my wife,” Bruce says.

“Relax. I’m already done.” I jump onto the bed. He looks at me and comments at how handsome he thinks I am.

“Better meat to a veggie,” I joke as I plant a kiss on him.

#ILMARA

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Empty plate, where’s the food?

family without food

Kevin, come, let’s go to the farm

Maria, watch little James and Nick, I’ll be back shortly…

Priscilla and Sarah, don’t forget to go to the stream…

Fetch those two  buckets of water, I’ll be back shortly…

Boniface, remember to go and sell the remaining vegetables in the market before noon

Alvin, you stay here and guard the house… while you’re at it, sweep the compound…

I’ll be back shortly…

Maria, please help me strap little Priscah on my back..

Thank you….

Mum, I need two more exercise books

Mother, what will we have for supper today?

Mummy, help me put on my blouse

Mum, you never understand me…

Mummy, why don’t we have a daddy like all our friends?

She had tried so much to contain and brush away these constant questions and requests…

But that last one, that last one though,

Tore through her heart like a hot sword through margarine…

Her six year old son had asked, oblivious of the fact,

That this was a reality she had been battling for years…

So here she was, with her nine children…

Each with specific needs,

Each with an unanswered question running through their minds,

Maybe too afraid to ask,

Or maybe wondering how to phrase the question..

But here was Rose,

Once young, still young, but you wouldn’t guess she is

So she had her first three kids…

Then her husband died… no not husband… Boyfriend..

And after a while, she got married…

Had six more kids… not her plan at all…

In fact she had no plan to work with…

So he left to go and find a job…we can all guess where…

Where everybody goes….as if jobs grow on trees…or on pavements

He went to the city… the much talked about

Except right now, she is not even sure he went to the city…

It’s been two years… not half years, whole years…

He left, when she was heavy with Priscah…

Has never come back

Has never communicated

Has never sent anyone

Has never asked about them

Has never reassured her that he will be back shortly…

Ten mouths to feed

Two hands

One mind

One person…

And  a troubled conscience…

He was to be back shortly…

But now she’s the one who always has to be back shortly…

Because they all depend on her… all of them…

But how will she tell them their dad walked away from them?

She struggles to find food.. at least food for one,

But divides it into nine…

And she’s left with nothing to eat… Just a plate…

And as usual, Nick, the inquisitive one,

Oblivious of circumstances, or maybe just very concerned,

Points out,

Mummy, your plate is empty…where is the food?

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Life After the Fast Lane

Sex workers demand empowerment fundsAfter working in the sex trade for around seven years, I met a guy I sort of liked. He had a major problem with what I did for money. Getting to know him stopped as soon as it started. That’s when I knew: I no longer wanted to sell “the girlfriend experience,” as we called it in the industry, in other words, selling sex but acting as if the guy and I were on a “real” date. I wanted to be an actual girlfriend. I wanted to use the academic degrees I had worked hard to earn. For me, I realized, sex work and the “straight” life couldn’t mix. I wanted out just like so many critics of the sex industry would advise.

That wasn’t so easy. I faced a lot of challenges that made transitioning out of the trade incredibly difficult. It took me multiple tries to leave sex work for good. When I left the job to become a public-school teacher, I ultimately lost my job after confiding in a not so close work mate about my past. That experience taught me about another kind of indignity sex workers face—not on the job, but when they leave the trade.

Most sex workers abused by policeWhether sex workers love, hate, or feel ambivalent toward their job, most don’t intend to work in the industry forever. But the complicated reasons people enter the trade—including but not limited to economic factors—are the same complicated factors that make it difficult to leave. I first got involved in the industry due to my economic circumstances. A sophomore in college, I was always the chic without fancy gadgets and jewelry. I just had enough money to afford a decent lifestyle on a minimum budget as pocket money.  One afternoon at a clothing store, out of cash, I became devastated. That moment of economic desperation turned into a job as a dancer and stripper at a local club and later sex work exclusively. It was there that the allure of money and a better life affixed me to the trade throughout college.

Sex work was a job that suited my needs, as it is for many. For me it was rational, I have needs, the needs require money, and sex work would give me money. I did not care for the rumors, my woArizona's tenacious laws against sex workers - Americas - Al Jazeera Englishrk got me through school and as well as spare coins to send back home. I had the good life, and soon I had an elite clientele that sent for me with cabs and personal drivers to exclusive locations. I had an emotionally absent father and a mother deeply concerned with mounting debts, the death of her parents, and her failing marriage. I can see now how family played a part in my own choices. I realize how the “get-rich-quick” feeling I got from trading sex for cash reminded me of the warm, excited feeling we would get when my father, a daily gambler, came home after a lucky day at the track.

And the secrecy required of a sex worker mirrored the “don’t ask, don’t tell” environment in which I’d grown up: I was never supposed to talk about our family problems. When it comes to leaving the trade, people need emotional and psychological support—not just money. They need a nonjudgmental environment, to make sense of their experiences, so that they can make choices that are right for them. They need to be treated like human beings. And yes, they need jobs.

When I got a job as a teacher, I earned a decent salary, people respected me, and—for perhaps the first time in my life—I felt useful and appreciated for something other than my body. My kids loved me. My colleagues praised me. As soon as the errant ear spread the story of my past, I was booted from the school. It was a chilling message to any sex worker out there looking to leave the life.

Critics say people should get out of sex work, but then hypocritically shun us when we make the transition. We receive little sympathy when we are outed—and it’s even worse if we out ourselves. But I feel that telling our stories is integral to finding meaning in our lives and our experiences. Before writing and sharing my experiences, I felt compelled to suppress my past, including my childhood. I was left alone to deal with the confusion I felt knowing I was a “whore.”

Since losing my teaching job, finding work has been a struggle. I teach part time writing where I can, but it doesn’t pay much. Admittedly, I have sometimes felt tempted to return to sex work. But I choose to not sell sex, as I’m too intimately acquainted with the pain that doing so would cause me.  I ask that today you also think of the people who—for whatever complicated reasons—sell sex. When you think of us, I hope you realize, we’re not that different than you.

Rewritten, Original Story by Melissa Petro, the Daily Beast

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An Extraordinary Man–All I desire to BE!

clip_image001We do not choose where we are born but we can choose where we want to go, I learnt this the hard way! Jerry is my name, born and raised in the suburbs of Nairobi. I’m a third born in a family of three. My dad was an architect and my mother a doctor, we had and still have lots of money. Our parents provided all the material support we needed, paid our school fees; we had a very prestigious life!

 

We had what looked like a perfect family, we used to go to church together, go out and do what most ‘normal’ families do, but what people did not know was the misery within… Our dad used to beat our mother for no apparent reason, he used to, verbally and physically abuse her. He never talked to us or even had that bonding time with us as his children; I could hear rumours that my dad was seen on various occasions with different women.

clip_image002What really hurt me most was the last day we shared the same roof! What he did was unforgivable! It was during one of the many parties my mum organised, we had so many guests. As the party continued…, my mum approached my dad with ask a question & the response he gave made mum so angry….Within a fraction of a minute, my mother furiously slapped my dad! It was so shocking it had never happened before, she was so angry and fed up, she could no longer fathom the pain, and suffering my dad made her go through, she was tired of trying to pretend that we were one happy family. Instead of my father calming her down, he slapped her back!

The whole place was so confused and embarrassing; my mother was bleeding so profusely. Some guests tried to cool them down but it was hard. The worst part is that my mother’s limbs were broken and she uses a wheel chair, and each time I see her on it, it hurts me more. Even after mistreating mum so much, my dad went ahead to give her a divorce and later remarried. He stopped providing for us and the burden was left to my mum! She tried her level best, she took care of us, and now we are all grown up. I am a doctor now by profession, and helping many people on a daily basis gives me joy.

clip_image003I am going through counselling sessions at the moment because of the bad experience I had growing up. My past inflicted the fear of getting married or even having committed relationships. Forgiving my dad is the hardest thing I am trying to resolve; my counsellor says it is my dark Achilles heel. My deepest wish is that my fellow men would respect, honour and love their wives and their children. Children from broken homes go through a lot that affects their future negatively if not dealt with in counselling! For us to change the world we have to begin at home. Charity begins at home!

Yes I had a painful past, but I choose to be a different man, a man who loves his wife, takes care of her, and honors her. I want to do what my father did not do, I want to bond and have a close relationship with my children as well as my wife when that time comes! My past was an agonizing one but it has helped me become a better man, my past pain is a blessing in disguise!

Blog courtesy of Catherine Kiogora

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AIDS, the Killer Disease

Say it aloud, even though you may not be allowed,

Because its not a fraud, that you may be afraid,

AIDS is not an aid, to death many have been lead,

Without any compromise, AIDS is a deadly disease.

AIDS is really a killer, in this there is no skills,

Furthermore there is no a healer, its better all we chill,

Or else we are going to face hell, the ultimate bad place,

Without any compromise, AIDS is a deadly disease.

AIDS is really an enemy; let me state it clearly,

It has hindered our economy, especially in these third-world countries.,

It has also hindered our academics, destroying our future generations,

Without any compromise, AIDS is a deadly disease.

AIDS has become the talk of the day, in every part of the world,

There is no a conducive place to stay, life has really been hampered,

Man has been made a prey, by this Giant AIDS,

Without any compromise, AIDS is a deadly disease.

LVCT I want to acknowledge, for your efforts towards this programme,

For sure your have given us the relevant knowledge, that is vital in our time,

You have really empowered us in our age, to bring a positive change in the society.

For without any compromise, AIDS is a deadly disease.

Blog courtesy of SILLUS MWAUCHI.

Pivot Institute of Community Development & Social Studies.

E-mail address- simwa@yahoo.com.

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Matters of the Heart

clip_image002Every human being desires to love and be loved. Every person understands and expresses love differently because we are all unique with various worldviews, value systems and socialization. All these differences if not handled well can cause chaos in relationships and leave permanent emotional or physical scars.

Latifa has been in a relationship that has taken her through hell and back as some will describe it. She has been involved with this guy for two years now. They had an amazing relationship. He lavished her with gifts and money treated her like a queen and made her feel she was the luckiest woman in the world.

She had yearned for such a love and according to her it was a dream comes true. The two had started living together and at that time she knew that she had found her soul mate.

Life has a way of surprising us. The most unexpected thing happened to Latifa. It was shocking and unbelievable for her to find out that her ‘husband’ was a married man and had never told her. How could that be the case yet he was unusually caring and committed? Her discovery led her to ask him whether it was true that he had been married for the last 6 years.

clip_image004The very “loving” partner started abusing her verbally and physically which left her very distraught. The turn of events was very traumatizing. The questions that kept ringing in her mind were how she could have lived such a big lie for that long. She felt she could not live such a life anymore and decided to walk out of the relationship to save her skin.

clip_image006This has not been taken very positively by the ex because after some months of going through healing Latifa was lucky enough to find a man who could win her heart and value her and most importantly, an honest man. Her ex apparently had been eyeing on her and found out that she had moved on and now was so green with jealousy. The shocking thing is that in the recent past he has been sending threatening messages to the girl and demanding that she returns everything he bought for her.

Can what the guy received from her be quantified? Are the threats worth bearing in mind that this guy has been cheating on his wife as well and was engaged sexually with an unawares Latifa? Should she give in to the threats and give up on life. While at it Latifa has decided to report the threats to the authorities. It looks like life has a way of keeping one on their toes.

Just when you think you have moved on after healing from heartbreak something else crops up. I guess matters of the heart can be weighty.

Blog Courtesy of Teresiah Muthoni

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Charity Begins at Home

Violencia De Género / Domestic Violence / No To Violence Against Women / No A La Violencia Contra Las Mujeres ♀“They said I am too old to be raped, and thought I was imagining things. I did not have evidence, I had already showered. They told me that they will see what they will do … that is the last I head of them ” She looked down, embarrassed that she had told younger people than her about her shameful experience. Yet it reflected in her voice, and in her creased forehead. She felt relieved though, a load lifted off her chest. Murmurs acknowledged her sentiments and filled the room, nods of agreement followed.

“He (pointing an accusing finger at a man seated across her) beats me up for Violencia De Género / Domestic Violence / No To Violence Against Women / No A La Violencia Contra Las Mujeres ♀bringing food with less salt, luke warm bath water or too hot, for speaking against him. He did not know what we were coming here for, he does not trust me to go anywhere alone. I fear for my life but by mama speaking out, I have confidence. I am living with a monster!” Blood thirsty gazes fall on the unsuspecting man. His face is pale and ashen, all color drained of him. He stood to go, but a strong arm put him back at his seat.

 

A deep voice behind the arm boomed “What are men coming to? Are we all animals? Do we only view women as objects of pleasure and burden to use as we please? We cannot let a few (looking angrily at the accused) ruin the reputation of all men.” A growing murmur of approval …  the man seated with a firm hand on his shoulder starts to cower. “Do not be too safe assuming that men are the only perpetrators. If I showed you my back, it has a lot of scars from lashes and hot water. So it goes both ways” People turned to look at the man who was at the door way in awe and then silence….

During the 16 days of activism (November 25- October 10, 2013), we hope to dispel myths surrounding Gender Based Violence. It is more than simple physical violence; it includes intimate partner violence and emotional violence. We should also appreciate the fact that men are also a significant share of the victims as well as perpetrators and vice versa. We aspire to create broader understanding that GBV has a significant economic cost in developed and developing countries alike. And we would like everyone to remember that while women are the large majority of the victims of GBV, they also are leading the fight to eliminate this global epidemic. We must all recognize that men and boys, and women and girls will need to work together to eliminate gender-based violence.

Violence against womenUse your power wisely, gender based violence is as a result of power misused. Use your power to show respect, love, shared understanding and resolve conflict without resulting to violence. Let us start from the home and into the world!

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