SANTA - A STORY TO TELL
26th of January 2017 Santa came together with of one of the ambassadors for the first time to amescosa Treatment Centre.
Santa is 24 years old and has 2 children in the age of 10 and 7 years. She is the youngest daughter and has 7 brothers and sisters. With fourteen Santa was forced to marry a man more then 10 years older than her and thereof had to stop going to school at class 8. Now she is a single mother and has the sole responsibility for her 2 children. Mostly the men remarry again and stay with the second wife.
For 10 years Santa was strongly dependent on alcohol and marijuana, drinking at least 6l Mnazi (locally brewed palm wine) daily and smoking up to 10 joints. Multi-drug use is very common as it boosts the effect of the main substance, but unpredictably and makes the dependence more sever. Santa worked as a "waitress" at a Mangwe (so called local "bar") selling Mnazi (locally brewed palm wine). To earn 300 Shillings Santa had to sell at least 20 bottles of Mnazi daily. That's around 3 Dollars. Never enough for her and her 2 children to cover even their basic needs. Before Santa was selling charcoal and earned even less. At days with just a few customers at the Mangwe Santa was forced to drink the full bottles left to get the 300 Schillings. A fact which made her alcohol dependence much more complex.
The owner of the Mangwe is an older man. He frequently took advantage of Santa and her circumstances and forced her late evening hours to have unprotected sex with him, otherwise he would have refused to pay her salary .
To increase her income and also to afford her substance dependence, Santa had pushed herself to engage in random sex work, as she saw no other choice. Job opportunities in Kilifi are still rare and an incomplete education as well as being dependent on alcohol and marijuana made the situation desperate.
Especially young women being dependent on alcohol and further more being drunk and out of self-control attract as victims in Kilifi County - in Kenya - various sexual, psychological, physical and mental violation and abuse, not only from men. These young women experience calculated penetration through many different forces taking advantage of their vulnerability and constraining them to do things for personal, self-righteous benefits these young women would otherwise would never do.
Getting to know about amescosa-road to recovery and finding trust in the ambassador and the amescosa team, Santa decided to take this chance to fundamentally transform her life and thereof as well the life of her children. She could feel deeply in her heart the significance of this unique opportunity and within 1 week she had stopped being engaged in sex work and started with her treatment process at amescosa Treatment Centre.
Santa went successfully through detoxification and has participated with seriousness in aftercare adjusted to her individual needs. With the therapeutic support she worked through her childhood trauma, all the different kinds of abuse she experienced and learned to love herself again. She cultivated the attitude of being a responsible mother, became capable to take care of herself and gained a strong inner foundation.
She has started her own business and through close monitoring of her business strategy, budget and saving plan her 2 children go to school again. Particularly for such children access to education has a high preventive aspect.
Having a new, positiv self-perception, self-esteem and the courage for a self-determined life are 3 vital elements in Santa's sustained recovery. It also helped her creating a new, healthy social environment on which she can rely. Her children are very happy about the positive development in their lives and can now believe in a much more prosperous future. Santa's family looks at her with different eyes and support her. In June 2017 one of her aunts informed Santa on a job vacancy at Pwani University as a servant in the students' canteen. Not hesitating, Santa went for the job interview and was immediately employed.
AMINA - A GIRL RISES UP
Amina was 25 years old when she knocked on our door, single mother, having 5 children from 5 different fathers – all of them uncertain – and living in Kilifi, North Coast of Kenya. For 2 years she knew being HIV positive – but for how long she was already living with the disease, she did not know –; an unavoidable excess of her long-time alcohol dependence. She could satisfy her addiction only by offering her body in exchange, always unprotected, without contraception. Moreover, female youths losing control are an easy victim for rape and various kinds of abuse, violence and exploitation.
The Combination of the medical treatment for HIV – ART is a very strong medication – and alcohol has fatal physical long-term consequences. Many female youths are not aware of it. And if the substance dependence has once advanced, it is not possible anymore to consider this fact; likewise, it was for Amina.
Amina had a delicate figure. Already the first time we met I could sense her vigour – life – emanating deep from within even though she was malnourished, fragile and of weak health and her whole appearance was shaped by her life and by alcohol use. Nonetheless she understood at first only vaguely the concept of “amescosa-road to recovery” – since 2017 the first initiative in Kenya addressing exclusively and holistically marginalized female youths with alcohol and multi-drug dependence having no access to support – at the beginning of her first interview, she immediately said to never having believed in getting such a chance and wished to quit drinking alcohol immediately. For the first time in her life Amina felt valued, understood, respected and being taken serious as a person.
Step by step we guided and coached Amina closely through her process at our outpatient Treatment Centre and together we have again and again removed the stumbling blocks appearing on her path. For young women like Amina the path leading to the wished abstinence is not an easy task at all, not only in finding access to treatment but also particularly during treatment.
Already shortly after Amina had started with her treatment, her aunt chased her out of her house – Amina was accepted to sleep on the earthen floor of a kind of storage room – and she began to circulate lies about Amina stigmatising her even further. Amina was not discouraged in her strong determination although the uncertainty where to stay now. Her brothers and sisters still refrained any support. As in Kilifi no facility exists offering shelter under such conditions, we decided to rescue Amina at our “amescosa Treatment Centre” to ensure safety and protection and to gain time. Amina’s will and inner determination were greater than her feelings of disappointment and emotional distress. Thereof, we found together an appropriate solution and could soon initiate detoxification. After only 5 days Amina’s appearance has completely changed. The expression of her eyes was now clear, her eyes shone bright, her voice became strong and her whole body gained substance. Her entire being was ready for healing and self-responsibility. She absolutely wanted to win the battle, for herself and her children.
During the period of aftercare Amina created aligned to a business training adjusted to her personal capacity and needs, her own, small business which should provide the means to sustain herself and her children in an independent and in a healthy, meaningful and productive way and guarantee that she could pay the school fees, while having been intensively engaged in therapy working through her trauma and emotional pain and developing new life strategies.
After Amina completed treatment, she travelled proud and happy back to her children living in Mariakani. The past circumstances of life have not allowed her to be close to them. Amina has achieved a huge triumph and as an example for her children she sent out a clear and strong signal that under any circumstances it is important to fight for oneself, to not give up and to be courageous. That change is possible where before there was no hope. That the final responsibility to grab the chance and to make the best out of it comes back to oneself even though the journey is unknown and goes with fears and obstacles.
Amina has recreated her story anew and very positively though taking her life fully in her hands.
MEMBERSHIP AND SUPPORT
Bank Account "AMESCOSA ROAD TO RECOVERY ORGANISATION"
Account Number: 2038921463
Branch Code: 019
Barclays Bank of Kenya Limited
Bank Code: 03
Swift Code: BARCKENX
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