I sat down by the gate of a small rural high school- Rarieda in Siaya-sub county eagerly waiting to talk to some girls who had received scholarships from the equity group of scholarship.Dressed in a checked green and white uniform, 15 years old Achien’g sat next tome. Her dress had blue, yellow, green and red patches everywhere. Barefooted, I could see huge breakages on her heels and there were cracks on her leg; telling me how much they needed shoe to wear and jelly to apply. Her dry lips were dry and she kept licking them now and then. noticeably,she hadn’t had anything since that morning.
I started by asking question about school. what she loves the most, the teachers she likes the most and then to her future plans. And when her lips parted, tears split over her cheeks. she looked about to the playing ground_ to the nearby hills _to the empty distance_ to the tall trees which were being blown softly by the breeze emerging from Lake Victoria. weeping, she told me from the time she was 13 her father has been winningly trying to marry her off.
Achien’g lives inconstant fear of being married off to an old man “my father is a fisherman; he fishes all through the night in the midst of the storm. It is in countable days when he peeps in with three small fish which he would sell.” And now seemingly oblivious to my presence, she continued, “he would then give my mother small amount for sukumawiki and save the rest for the bad days.”
The oldest of eight daughters Achien’g, carries emotional burden weighing her down and totally excruciating her. She is recalling all these tears rolling uncontrollably down her chicks.“My father will always tell my mother, how can afford to educate my children when feeding them is a problem. I want to marry her off.”
“No, No, she must learn,” my mother would insist.
“There is no need to educate a girl when after getting the so called ‘education’, she gets married and wash the dishes in someone’s kitchen…” he would say.
Her mother was married to her father when she was only thirteen and she does’t wish for her daughter to go through what she went through herself. The pain of being a young bride and a young mother. No. Not her daughter. She doesn’t want that for her. “My father keeps insisting with the marriage, he would tell me after I’m married, he would take care of my siblings with the dowry. I don’t want to get married, not now.” tears falling freely down her face again.
Achien’g, at her tender age, dreams of finishing her studies and finally becoming a teacher. She wants to enlighten her society by educating girls from poor background like her and at absolutely no cost.
“I have a dream that one day, every girl will have a say and a right to education up to any level wished by them.” A colorful soft smile drew curves on her cheeks. Unaware of me being there once more, she let herself get lost in her own world. Her determination and strength made me see into her future, and guess what? It was beautiful.