BY BRENDA MBAJA LUBANG’A
Some days ago, I was asked which women and girls I admire. Immediately, I had to think of Lucy and her little daughter Maya.
Lucy grew up in Dandora, one of the informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya. She is a bright young woman but due to lack of school fees she had to let go the dream of attending college. At only 19 years old, Lucy got pregnant. At 21 years, she found out that she was HIV positive. Shortly after, her first-born, David, died. Lucy never found out what her son died of but she couldn’t stop wondering if he died from AIDS-related complications.
In Dandora, Lucy experienced both emotional and sexual violence. She knows what it means to sleep hungry, to have no money for sanitary towels, to lack school fees, to be a teen mother and to experience the death of a child. And still, despite her challenges, Lucy has grown to give back to her community. She raises money to provide sanitary towels for girls; advocates against sexual and gender-based violence and empower girls in her neighbourhood. She also overcame the fear instilled among people living with HIV and she now has a beautiful daughter, Maya. Lucy named her after the eminent Maya Angelou.
Little Maya has taken after her mother’s charming spirit. She is beautiful, innocent and unaware of her mother’s worry about her future. Lucy’s biggest dream is that her daughter would get a good education, overcome the hurdles of poverty, and not be part of the statistics of teenage pregnancy or sexual and gender-based violence. She provides Maya’s daily needs but still worries about her education and how she could support her daughter to achieve all her future dreams.
Many girls like Maya are born innocent and not aware of the future that awaits them. They should be able to get an education, live a healthy life and achieve all their dreams. Maya should not end up as a statistic of girls, who like her mother, were victims of teenage pregnancy. I am certain that Lucy will do her best to make sure that Maya achieves her dreams.
Maya will be turning three in November. It feels like only yesterday when Maya turned two and her mother informed me that Maya’s last test came out and she is HIV negative. What a joy!
To ensure a brighter future for Maya and all girls in the world, we have to stand #rightbyher! We have to ensure she lives free from violence and harm, that she has access education and access to health. Find out more about our campaign activities.
About the author: Brenda Mbaja Lubang’a is a 27-year-old woman from Kenya. She currently works at GIZ project Global Alliances for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is an associate partner and member of the State of African Women / RightByHer steering committee. She is also a member of the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning, where she is responsible for public relations.