Miriam endured a life of domestic abuse at the hands of her brothers, and later her husband. At Kira Farm Development Centre she discovered that women are equal to men; and she acquired the skills, strength and determination to confront her abusers.

Today she is an independent woman running two successful businesses. When she’s not busy working and raising her daughter, she is empowering other young women in her village to live a life free from abuse.

 

‘I grew up during the war between the government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA),’ explains Miriam.

‘I was born when rebel activities were at their peak and I remember little about my father because he was killed during one of the rebel raids in my village.

‘My family and I fled to a camp where we were supposed to be safe from the rebels; however food was scarce and crime was rampant.

‘My brothers were really messed up by the camp because they knew their lives were wasting away and they began drinking heavily.

‘Whenever they came home and there wasn’t any food my brothers would beat me and my mother badly. Even though we lived off just one meal a day, they would sell the little food we managed to grow to pay for their alcohol.’

Running away

‘Tired of the torture I endured at home I eventually ran away and got married at the early age of 14 years. It wasn’t long before I discovered I had leaped from the frying pan into the fire.

‘My husband was even more abusive than my brothers. I had two miscarriages as a result of his beating and torture, before my daughter was born.

‘One time my husband beat me into a coma because I had put too much salt in his food.

‘In the end I ran back home, but the situation there had worsened because one of my brothers had got married but hadn’t paid the dowry on time. When I turned up he started looking for men to marry me, so he would receive a dowry to pay off the money he owed.

‘Because I had a child I couldn’t fetch a very high dowry and he was angry he couldn’t make enough from me to pay off his debt. He blamed my daughter and I was afraid he would harm her.

‘I was planning on running away again when I got the opportunity to come to Kira Farm Development Centre – a vocational training centre run by Amigos.’

A new life

‘I spent 12 months at the residential centre and was empowered so much by the training I received,’ smiles Miriam.

‘At Kira Farm I learnt that we are all equal before God. On the Farm we were all treated the same and this developed in me a huge sense of strength and determination – I wasn’t going to allow any more men to treat me badly just because they think they’re better than women.

‘When I left Kira Farm last December I felt positive about my life and through the training I’d received in restorative justice, I was determined to fight for my rights in our family. Something I have begun to achieve!’

A wake-up call

‘When I returned home my brothers were shocked. They were used to a downtrodden Miriam with low self-esteem, they couldn’t believe I had the confidence to look them directly in the eye when I was speaking to them.

‘After three weeks of being home I told them that anyone who doesn’t go into the garden to tend to the crops, won’t get any food.

‘In response one of my brothers threatened to beat me but I warned him, while the others were listening, that if anyone raised their hand to me I was going to the police. They were scared because for all the years they had abused me, I had never talked about the police.

‘I started clearing our home and making our hut look nice, just like the ones at Kira Farm. Then, thanks to the vocational skills I’d acquired while I was at Kira, I began picking up hairdressing work in the village.

‘I made around £35 and used that money to kickstart my tailoring business – again, putting into practise all the skills I had learnt at Kira.

‘Today I am running two businesses and with the money I’m making I am able to pay my daughter’s school fees, so she is finally able to get an education. I also have about £45 a month left afterwards – more money than I’ve ever had in my life.

‘I can sense that my brothers feel ashamed because in just a short space of time I have brought about great improvements in our family, we even have solar power now.

‘I am so grateful to Mike and Hilary for sponsoring me, and to Amigos for equipping me. I am using my determination to empower many other young girls in our church to say no to domestic violence.’   

 

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