Sophie* comes from a humble background and life was difficult for her. With a broken family where her mother was divorced, coupled with physical and psychological assault from her father, a situation that caused death of her brother prompted her to get married at the age of 13 years to escape. Sophie did not stay long in the marriage, she was continuously exposed to gender based violence, physical, emotional and economically. Life was so hard that she moved to Pumwani Majengo where she found a friend who lived with a bed ridden mother in a dilapidated house with scarsity of resources.
As teenagers in a slum, the toll of life was becoming unbearable due to shortage of food, shelter and basic needs, forcing them into child labour. Sophie worked in a food kiosk, but the income could not sustain them. To make ends meet they would beg for money from well wishers, however they occasionally slept hungry. Sophie did not give up, she kept hope high and believed that one day things would change.
In one of her errands she heard about a meeting at St. John’s Community centre. To Sophie this was an opportunity, to meet well wishers. Deep down in her heart she longed to live a fulfilling life, to change her environment, to have food and be safe.
From a community dialogue forum organized by Global Communities at St. John’s Community Hall, Sophie was elated to hear Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) targeted in the DREAMS program. She took an initial move to understand and seek help from the initiative. She received counselling and psycho-social support that enabled her to come to terms with her traumatic past. Sophie shared her desire to continue with school, however on contacting her grandmother where she lived before getting married, she was abused and chased away. DREAMS Program liaised with her other family members for reintegration. An aunt accepted Sophie to live with her family as she attends school. Sophie continues to receive psycho-social support from the DREAMS initiative. An assessment on Sophie’s education needs was done. ToTo ensure that Sophie accesses education and is retained at school, DREAMS will be considering her for education subsidy.
Sophie is currently 16 years old and is enrolled in class 6, she is relatively older for her class but she is determined to pursue her goals in life. Sophie is excited that the PEPFAR funded DREAMS Program has come at the right time and she is looking forward to benefiting by acquiring education to enable her reach her dreams to become somebody some day!
*Sophie is not her real name