Coming out on the other side

Coming out on the other side

Photo Credit: BigStock

My friend texted me after she had read the “Happily Never After” story that I featured on this blog last week. She asked whether I was only writing about Ugandans that had overcome abusive relationships and I told her that if I got an opportunity to interview those outside Uganda, I would definitely take it on. She told me that she had written her story it was on her computer but she hand not shared it on any of her  platforms. Being the brilliant person she is, I knew that she would tell the story more than I ever could. Here is her story of overcoming from an abusive relationship.

Sometimes when you want something so badly, when you get it, you want to hold on to it forever. That was the case with me and what I thought then was my soul mate. In my second year at the university, 21-year-old me, in the process of exiting a relationship with one of those boys your mother says never to date, I met him. He was funny, broody at times, confident, and as far as looks go by, not bad. In my mind, he was a major upgrade from my soon to be ex. He was a friend’s friend; a team player and we soon became inseparable.

He told me he had slapped a girl once before when he was at varsity. He said that he really hadn’t meant to but she had pushed him and he apologized. I believed people could change and of course, I would never let that happen to me. I fell in love. I had found the one person I could be completely honest with.

Funny thing is that I didn’t see this as a warning coming from the horse’s mouth, I never heeded the warning, eyes wide open I found myself in a relationship with an abuser. It started with the comments meant to break down my confidence “what good will come out of that degree you are studying” I took it as a joke. “Look at her, that one can be very stupid sometimes” but I thought he was just teasing.

This extended to the flat out denial, when it suited him, that were not together. All these things said in front of close friends, and It didn’t occur to me that he was trying to publicly shame me. I did not think it was said in a way to hurt me-he loved me, surely we were just joking. Things escalated from emotional tormenting to physical abuse.

The first time I remember quite vividly. A few hours before my best friend’s birthday celebrations, I found myself pinned on my bed, rationalizing with a man who had just spat on me not to land the fist hovering over my eye he still needed to go to work and I had to make it to my friend’s birthday. This was over a cell phone I had dropped by mistake. That was the culmination of the violence and I realized the person I was with. The apology came with lines of I did not deserve to be treated like that, and I thought it would never happen again.

People ask you why you never left the first time? Why did you allow yourself to stay? It’s not like you were married or he owned the house you were staying in. For two and a half years. I had wanted it to work so badly because he got me – I was literally dangerously in love. Sometimes we have to let our guard down and be vulnerable with people, but we choose the wrong people. Every time I took him back, it meant I lost a little bit of myself.

Over two years, I negotiated situations and avoided triggers, I learnt to read this man to avoid the punches. I felt like it was my fault that on a night out he couldn’t find me so he choked me for leaving him at the club. This was on my birthday. He had missed my birthday dinner, then showed up drunk to the dancing afterwards. He found me waiting for him as he had called to say he was on his way. I remember the necklace I was wearing being ripped off my neck. When people pulled him away from me, I ran to the nearest cab and went home.

I fought back. I had taken him back after a long separation which included a move to a different country. In his reconciliation visit, a blow meant for me landed on my friend. I felt more rage that he had attacked her and went after him. Suffice to say, I came out worse. I fell and got kicked in the face. It took a couple of guys who I am forever grateful to intervene and pull him off me.

When my friend begged me to go to the police station, I did not report him but instead the police took me home. I was always making excuses to make sure he did not have to be held accountable.

My friend once said after I took him back, “We are going to bury you after he does something to you.” Now that was the literal rock bottom. I was 23 and I was devastated that the man I loved would not change. I thought that I could save him from his own issues. It took a long time for me to comprehend the fact I did not do anything to provoke him.

With time, prayer, friends, determination to become the first graduate in my family and saw me through. I am a believer in God and at my lowest he saved me.

Some will ask why did he not intervene in the middle of it all? How do you save someone who refuses to take your hand? We all need one friend that holds us accountable.

I had the opportunity to figure things out myself, something I never thought I would be able to do. I have not lived in the same country as my abuser in the last years so I could forget him. The thing with coming out alive is sometimes the elements come together and work in your favour where you never have to be in the same space or breathe the same air with a man who made you question your worth.

In the end, the biggest lesson I have learnt is that there is no type cast for who gets abused. A man or woman uncomfortable in their own skin will seek some form of power over another. For the man who abused me, he chose to vent his demons on me. I am able to share my story not seeking self-pity but to help who ever needs to hear it. Thankfully my pain made me strong and gave me the determination to rise against the odds.

 

Happily Never After

Happily Never After

 For some Ugandan women, the case of happily ever after is a tale that has remained in the story books and Telemundos. Violet watched as the man she fell in love with became a monster, hoping against hope that he would change. I listened intently as Violet narrated her story to me.

“Ours was love at first sight, he was the storybook tall, dark, and handsome or at least that is what I thought. It was two years after graduation.  Long story short, we got married. A few months later, I was pregnant. He was responsible and I had no doubt that he loved me.  When the child was born, I noticed that he started staying out late with his friends.  I brought up the issue and he instead brought his friends home every day of the week – they ate all the food in the house. This became an issue.

When I finally got a salaried job, he stopped buying food or anything for the house.

We were arguing one day I don’t remember about what when he slapped me, I slapped him back. He kicked me, pulled my hair and hit me with every object his hands could touch. He was like a rabid dog. I thought that it was a one off, but later, it became routine. In the morning, he would apologise and tell me that he did it because of the alcohol and that he would never do it again. I clung to every word that he said.

I was tired of neighbours’ peeking eyes that pried the nightly scuffles. I secured a salary loan from the bank, bought a piece of land and started to build a house. We moved into the house in an isolated place outside town.

I wanted to stay married because I didn’t want my friends and relatives to know that I was fighting with my man. For a few years, we had been the perfect couple.  When my boy was three, the fighting intensified. At 3:00 am, he would return home drunk, and chase all of us away from home – My kids, my maid and  we would spend the rest of the night in the bush.

I thought enough was enough. I called my father to mediate. My husband told my father to take me away with him. My father asked me to go back home with him. I refused. I was hoping that he (my husband) would change. He was a different person when he wasn’t drunk. It is like they were two people. I clung onto the good sober person that I had fallen in love with. I turned my eyes to church to pray for him. I prayed for peace for my in the family, I prayed for peace to grease my heart. The peace for my heart was an illusion. I dragged him to church, they prayed for him I didn’t see the results for months until he got saved. We savoured some peace.

Those few months when he ‘got saved’, I decided to have another child. I was six months pregnant when he started to drink again. He started beating me, he would strangle me, urinate on the bed, and sometimes even shit on the bed.  Yes, you heard right a grown man defecating on our marital bed. I would be expected to wash up the mess in the morning.  I cannot count the times he said that he hated me.

I thought that he would change. Often, I went to work with a black eye. At work, it was an open secret that I was being battered. Where was I supposed to go?  I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere not even at my parents’ home. I was scared of the gossip of the villagers. I was stuck. I decided to stay. I felt like no one would truly understand my predicament.

The day I gave birth to our second son, my husband didn’t show up at the hospital. He texted me saying that there was no food at home. He had been fired from his job because of alcohol.

One day, I was coming from fieldwork on a dirt path that leads to my home, I saw two people wiggling in the grass, I requested the company driver that was dropping me home to switch on the full headlights. The driver turned on the headlights. I quickly asked him to switch them back to normal, because I noticed that it was my husband on top of a woman – a village drunk. We all knew her in that village as that woman who got drunk every day. I was speechless but my mind was racing. That was the last straw. I got home, bade the company driver goodbye. My mind went blank. I sunk into the couch.  Checked on the kids. I paced. I couldn’t sleep. I was losing my head. About three hours later, he knocked at the door. I refused to open. I told him to sleep outside. He banged the door as if he would break it with his bare hands. I placed the kids and the maid in one room. There was silence- a calm like one before a storm. My mind was telling me that he would kill me. I tiptoed and unbolted the door and I run back locking myself in the room with the kids. A few minutes later, he fell inside the house when he came  back to bang the door with force.  He snarled and yelled, threatening to kill us if he lay his hands on us. This was the last straw.

When he fell asleep, I packed my stuff. I waiting for dawn and I left never to look back. Leaving everything behind, I had lost my job already. I had nothing left to fight for.  I had saved up some money, I started a business. I didn’t have time for a pity party. Driven by the determination to work hard for my children, I moved on.

When I left him,  I started to talk about the abuse. I didn’t care who listened to my story, I told it to everybody like a broken record. It is only when I started to speak out that I realised that silence was the key to the handcuffs. When I broke the silence that had held me captive, my friends started to counsel me, my family received me and accepted me. By God’s grace, I started to heal. I am still healing. It has been five years since I started the healing journey.

The consequences of his actions live with us. One of my boys the other day was diagnosed with severe anxiety and has had sleeping disorders since he was three.

At first, he (my ex) would call promising to send school fees for the kids, I would wait for the school fees in vain. I stopped waiting for him when I realised that his empty promises were one of the ways to keep himself relevant in our lives.

I have moved on since. My business is doing very well and I can take care of myself and my children. He is just a past chapter in my life.  I love my boys, I will work to the very last drop of my sweat to give them a good future. To the women that are stuck in abusive marriages, there will always be signs, leave the relationship when the signs begin because changing a grown up is hard.”

 

Side Note: Are you an overcomer of an abusive relationship and would like to share your story? Please share  to encourage those that are stuck in these toxic relationships. Get in touch with me at nyapru@gmail.com I would like to tell your story.

The elephant

The elephant

To tame an elephant, catch it young or make sure that it is born in captivity, she will never know her power. You will use her in the circus to entertain humans, You will ride on her the safari to see other animals, You will use this elephant as crane for construction projects, and you can use her in religious festivals like the Asians do.

This elephant will never know the power her African cousin wields.

She will not know that her African cousin is the real king of the jungle. She will not know that her African cousin’s one kick is enough to knock out  that preying lion that is trying to eat her calf, She will never know how the Matriarch of the savannah gracefully leads the herd.

This story of the elephant reminds me of the free expression story of Uganda.

The suppression is steady but sure. From the banning of the ebimeeza (citizen forums) and the birth of disclaimers on radio stations that the ‘views aired on this radio station are not necessary those of this radio station.’ I chuckle every time that statement comes through my radio after a heated political debate. Those that make up the largest percent of the Uganda’s population probably scantily remember or not at all the ebimeeza.

This same generation that was brought up by a bunch of cautious individuals.

I was watching a Jesus movie with my father recently when he told me that the Kiboko they gave Jesus reminded him of his own by the Obote 11 army at Makekenke barracks in 1980.

“Can I write your story dad?”

“No, please don’t.”

“But it is an amazing story.”

“No.” He sternly said.

The topic closed and our eyes were glued back to the movie we were watching but I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want me to write the story.

So, we were brought up by a generation that didn’t sleep. The trauma of constant coups and conflict lives with them. They will do anything to have that good night sleep. A thing that millennials cannot comprehend.

When the Ebimeeza were banned, life moved on like normal.  But After the walk to work protests, and the Buganda riots, the 9th parliament passed the Public Management Order Act passed with ease in 2013. For public interest was the reason, this law gives power to the Inspector General of Police to use his discretion to allow a public gathering. What if the IGP is in a bad mood?

That meant that Ugandans could no-longer access the city square without permission. You know this is the only green area in the Kampala central business district. The city has no parks where lovers hold hands to muse over their new love on a bench in the evening as they gaze at the stunning Kampala sunsets.  When the Kampala afternoon sun is fierce and you want to catch a breath on a park bench, this green area is no place for you. We quickly got used to the fact that the square doesn’t belong to us but rather to the Kalolis and the police guys.

Who needs the green grass and the sunset over Mapeera house when this is the digital age? We can make as much noise as we want nn our phones, after all, the digital age had dawned on us. We convinced ourselves that we would tweet, Facebook, WhatsApp all we wanted only to realize that can only happen on other days apart from days like the election day.

Ugandans are dull, Ugandans are terrible at active citizenship, why are Ugandans docile? are some of the harsh indictments that I hear from people of other nationalities and Ugandans alike. Before you judge us, understand us. We are on a leash. Our locks cut like Samson, our fangs removed, our will stripped like the Asian elephant.

 

 

“I have a plan”

“I have a plan”

” I have ever made 100 dollars. You know how? Someone hooked me up with a white man at the Sheraton that wanted my services, he was going to pay me well. I was 19 and I was hot. I thought 20,000 shillings maybe. So I put on my best clothes and there I was at the Sheraton. When I was done giving him the service, he told me to pick from a bundle of money in his coat pocket. I had never seen such money before.  So, I went to that forex bureau at the casino that operates all night. When I exchanged the money, it was about two hundred something thousand shillings. Well, I don’t remember exactly but all I know is it was a lot of money. I was happy. I rented a new place, bought a plastic carpet, bought new covers for my 2-inch mattress and a kerosene stove. But rumor moves quickly around here. One of the popular guys Hamza said that he wanted to talk to me in private. He took me to that other side of Bwaise where there is a boxing club. He took me to a room. I thought he wanted sex. No, he wanted my money. He said that someone told him that I keep money in my knickers. That I cut my knickers, sew an extra cloth on top and hide money inside. Yeah its true but I had told one friend so clearly she didn’t keep the secret. We know each other around here so word goes around.

“Where is the money?” He asked.

“Which money?”

“They told me you made a lot of money.”

“I don’t have any money.”

I wanted to run, his one hand gripped my arm and the other reached for my knickers, he wanted to pull them off. He threw me down. He was on top of me. His one hand tugging at my knickers. He held my mouth, every time he released my mouth, I screamed. I was trying to tell him that I didn’t have the money. I had hidden the remaining money in the new stove that I had bought. He instead grabbed my mouth and my nose, I could feel life leaving me. I surrendered. I knew that was it. He suddenly released me and rushed out of the room. I didn’t tell anyone about what had just happened. I didn’t see Hamza for a long time. Years later, he came back, he asked to see me, he said that he wanted to apologize to me. I accepted to see him. He was splashing money around. I guess when he was away, he was robbing people, he was known here for terrorizing people in those rich neighborhoods. I hated him but I was scared that If I don’t go to see him, he might kill me. You know what? Hamza was killed last year while breaking into a woman’s house in Kazo.  The woman hit him with a metallic object on his head.  I sometimes dream about him and yet that was 2004.

I was 17 I when I came here. I deliberately refused to go to school. My mother wasn’t rich, but she could afford to take me to school. I wish I had an opportunity to tell the girls that deliberately refuse to go to school. I would tell them my story. But I guess the tears of my mother have cursed me. In the 13 years I have been here, I have never had peace. I have a man that I stay with, I stay with him because he protects me from rapists and people like Hamza. When I was pregnant with this baby, he used to beat me every night. Three days before giving birth, he threw me in that sewage stream. Everyone here knows me as  that woman who they beat every night. Our home was also a bar, he brought women, gave them beer from my bar and refused to pay. He went away with them and come back that following morning. When I gave birth, he played very loud music and continued to beat me.

I thank God that he lost his job. He had a job with KCCA to excavate rubbish stuck in sewage channels. When he lost the job, the beatings stopped and he doesn’t play loud music anymore. He sold the music system. Now he takes care of the baby when I have gone to work. Yeah, he knows the kind of work I do. When I come back home in the morning, he asks “Have you brought me something to eat?” Its OK I feed him, I feed the child too. I hope he doesn’t get a job soon because “esente zimuwaga” (money disturbs him).

I have plans, I am 32 but I tell everyone here that I am 30, please don’t tell them. Yeah, I have plans. I picture myself owning a salon, with big mirrors on the wall, two dyers in one corner, those nice white plastic chairs, two ladies helping me. A man washing the customer’s feet and painting the nails, a black and white carpet and those curtains in salons – you know them. So one day maybe one day.”

“I am the mama of the prostitutes here”

“I am the mama of the prostitutes here”

 

“Everyone knows me as the mama of the prostitutes in this area. I came here in 2000 after the death of my husband. He loved me. He pampered me. We had property together. I lost him to sickness in 1999 shortly after the birth of my son. My Husband’s elder brother had been hitting on me even when his brother was alive. This was his chance to inherit me as his wife. I refused. I thought that was shameful. He waged a war, took all my property threw me and my children out of the house” She said as I listened intently.

“I came to Kimombasa.


At first, I was embarrassed to sleep with men, but after months, I got used. I got my first child when I was 15. From my marriage I had four children, from here I got two more. So I have seven kids in total. My first two girls are married. I have a son that I gave birth to in 1990  dropped out of school recently, he was pursuing a law degree at Makerere university. We’ve completely failed to raise the school fees. So he is now working as mechanic and renting his own room away from here.  He is trying to save up money so that he can go back to school. His dream of being a lawyer is still alive.

My son, that one you see there is in Senior 4, he is hardworking, he goes to church, he loves the Lord, I was worried for him when he joined a boxing club. My friends had told me that those boys in that boxing club are hooligans that all they do is smoke drugs, yet whenever he came back from practice, he was a better boy, he was cleaner, he respected me even more. He now has 4 medals from the boxing competitions. He makes me proud. I just hope that he can finish school. There is an organization that is taking care of his school fees.

Whichever girl stumbles onto this area, comes looking for the mama of the prostitutes (mama wa bayaye ). I take them in but I have rules –  if you drink all the money that you make, I will can’t work with you, if you are not using protection-  look, this box here is full of condoms an organization brings it to us every month and I ensure that they are on family planning.

Whatever organization comes in to help, I receive them. I get for them lawyers when they have been arrested on charges of ‘Rogue and Vagabond’. Yeah, police arrests them, charges them, so we have to get them out of jail. Sometimes there is a rapist lurking in the area. Last year there was one I reported him to police. I made sure that I got the girls to testify he was charged 25 years in prison. When they are sick, I assign one of the girls to go to Mulago to take care of them. When they die, we bury them. We buried one at the end of last year, she was trying to abort on her own. She died.  Those who we don’t have families, we collect money and they take them to a cemetery. But sometimes when we have no money and they die, we abandon them in the hospital, we know that they will be taken to the mortuary and end up in the cemetery anyway. Now that there are national IDs, I am working towards seeing that each of them gets an ID because when they are arrested, it is easy get them out when they have IDs. I keep their deepest secrets, some of them are HIV+, when it is time to take their ARVs, I remind them. I solve their cases, sometimes they are fighting over men. Sometimes a man likes one particular girl and when he is tired of her, he goes to another. I try to explain to them that that is normal. Oh by the way, I have married off three girls so far, I attended their wedding ceremonies as their Senga. The men got them from here.

I have rooms in this area, they have double décor beds. You pay 1000 for a night. Some girls choose to sleep two on the bed so they pay 1000 shillings each. When they use my beds for business, the pay me 500 shillings for each session.

I am 48 now, I want to leave this business, but who will take care of these girls? As you can see, when I cook a meal, we share it. We are family. They keep coming, since 2005 when I started this small bar, I have had over 200 girls go through my hands, some stay for years, others for months, others get married and others die. Most of these women as you can see them are the forsaken of society, 90% have no families, those that have families can’t turn back. Their families don’t want them back, a lot of water has gone down the bridge. They feel like outcasts. You should be here when their children have been chased from school for school fees, this place is full of children, we let the kids sleep inside and we sleep on the verandas. However, I am worried, at 12, the girls want to join the trade. I tell the women that we have to fight to keep our children in school.

So when I leave, who will take care of them? Maybe that is my life’s mission. ”

 

Visiting the Dentist

Visiting the Dentist

Think of a Vitz car owner, every three months they will service their car at 100,000 Ugx.  A new Pirelli tyre (65/70R14) is about 250,000 Ugx, they will pay without questioning but the same car owner will frown when a dentist tells him that a dental checkup is at 35,000 Shillings.

Priorities anyone?

Many Ugandans like me dread the idea of visiting a dentist, the last time I was at dentist’s, I was hoping he would say,

“let us cement the tooth,” he instead said, “I am sorry you will have to lose that tooth.”

I wanted to run out of the clinic, but the pain from the previous night had been unbearable.

“Check again,” I asked him.

“That is it ma’am there is nothing we can do about it.”

“If I start to remove teeth now, won’t my mouth be empty by 50?”

He went quiet.

“Is this tooth beyond a root canal or something?”

“Yeah it is, because, it is broken from all corners, and it has a deep cavity there is nothing we can do to save it ma’am.”

“How about an implant?” I asked

“an implant?” He chuckled.

“That will cost you 5.5 million shillings ma’am.”

“I am a blogger sir; bloggers don’t usually have that kind of money lying idle on their accounts.”

The hope of saving my tooth was waning.

“When you make up your mind, I will be here.”

I strode in the corridors, the thought of not having teeth at 50 bothered me.

Without invitation, I entered the room, removed my shoes and mounted that chair like a lamb ready for slaughter. The dentists room reminds me of a construction site, cement,  pliers, screws, nails, screwdrivers, chisels and those wielding machine-like things. The difference here is the size – they were probably picked from Lilliput. Anyway, The dentist enters with a mask covering his nose and mouth.  He injects me twice, now I feel like my mouth is larger than life. The excavation starts, I can almost see wielder’s sparks as the dentist mercilessly pulls. In my mind, I see my mouth tearing into two pieces.

“Wider” he says, “open wider.”

That is the widest my mouth can open.” I think to myself.

Surely if this tooth was this hard to remove. It could have been saved. A-not-so comforting thought crosses my mind, I picture my 50-year-old self at a barbecue as the pork platter passes by.

“Do you want a piece ma’am?” the waiter would say.

“I am fine.”

‘I am done.’ The dentist announced.

He placed a large blood-spattered molar on one of those silver plates in his room.

I put my molar in my bag. And waved him goodbye.

This week on Monday was the world oral health day, Code Clinic hosted a blogger’s meet and greet and of all places in the dentist’s room. I narrated my ordeal to Dr. Steven Mugabe, in response, he said. 

“You know you don’t have to go through this torment again. You will have to practice better oral care. Eat meals on time so that you don’t have to snack and if you must snack, eat fruits. Stay away from soda, ice-cream, cake, alcohol, parked juice instead go for fresh juice, water and plain yoghurt, brush your teeth twice and use toothpaste with fluoride, and visit your dentist every six months”

I was brought from the village to work as a housemaid #SexWorkerDiaries

I was brought from the village to work as a housemaid #SexWorkerDiaries

This is the story of Kemirembe a 24-year-old sex worker in Bwaise Kimombasa.

“When I was 16, a woman picked me from my village in Bushenyi to work as a housemaid. I saw this as an opportunity because I wasn’t going to school. My parents were poor. All I had were the clothes on my back and two others in a black polythene bag. When we reached Kampala, she took me to the home in Kasubi.

I never saw that woman again.

At my newly found place of work, my boss had three kids. I woke up at 5 every morning to prepare the kids for school, prepared breakfast, cleaned the house, took care of the baby, washed dishes, prepared dinner, bathed the kids and put them to bed. I would sleep at eleven or midnight. This was my daily routine.

Whenever she came back from work, my boss would many times yell and hurl insults at me and ask me what I did all day, because to her, the house didn’t look that clean and the food I cooked didn’t taste good. Once, when I tried to talk back, she slapped me in the face and for the three months that I was there, she never paid me a shilling. One Sunday evening, I came back late from church, she threw me out of her house. I didn’t know where to go, I didn’t even have transport to take me back home, I didn’t even know which buses to take.

I was on the streets.

After a long search for a job, I got one in a restaurant. They paid me 2000 shillings daily and gave us a place to sleep. Thank God. I was there for about two years. The owner got broke and closed the restaurant.

I was back to the streets.

I roamed the streets at night. I pitched camp at restaurants to help wash dishes so that I could have all the left overs to myself. I slept on shop verandas or wherever I found.

I wasn’t the only one roaming the streets, we started to notice each other, I made friends with one of the girls. We shared our stories. We protected each other, another girl joined our group.  That girl told us that she had heard of a place where girls make money in Bwaise. So we walked from Nakulabye to Bwaise.

That evening, we found many girls all dressed up, with makeup and wigs and one by one, men would show up, take them.  We joined the group. That night, I was picked by two men each paid me 2500 shillings for the service I had given.

At first, it was better than being on the street. But then after six months, I got pregnant, I don’t know how that happened. I was careful to use protection. But some men tear the condoms. I don’t even know who the father of my child is.

Right now, I stay at a friend’s place  with my boy. I pay her 1000 shillings per night. My boy is now four years. I have failed to take him to school- it is expensive. I make sure that I am on the streets by 7:00pm because I want to make enough for my child’s food.

Some days, you’ll meet a man, who on the onset looks like a sensible human but when you get to the lodge, he starts to beat you for no reason. Some will do things to you that I cannot even tell you.  Look at the scratches on my face, these are from a fight with a man last night. These days, I am like a grenade I loose my temper easily.  Some nights when I don’t make any catches, I move about aimlessly. I take a little alcohol to help me forget my problems. I feel overwhelmed when I have not taken a little drink. It calms me down.

You are asking me if my parents are alive? I don’t know. Let’s say I have no family, no one for eight years has looked for me. So now that I have told you my story, what is it going to help me?”

Good Lord, I didn’t see that coming. That was a punch in my face.

What am I doing telling these women’s stories? I feel like walking away. But I am comforted by the fact that from last week’s story, two organizations expressed interest in helping these women. You guys that promised had better be serious. The real gutters are down there.