From Reject to Role Model "Before Kira Farm, life was hard. Now, I am so happy because I am able to succeed, and I feel beautiful and loved." Gloria came from an abusive home and faced stigma and isolation in her community. After one year at Kira Farm she is now a role model in her village. She teaches subsistence farmers new agricultural skills so they can enjoy three meals a day, she is training four young people in tailoring and she is supporting her siblings so they can go to school. Gloria’s story is one of remarkable change – and this is just the beginning! A Social Outcast "My father died before I was born, although I was unaware of this as a small child. When I was a baby, my mother married my stepfather and went on to have six more children. I was always thin and sickly as a baby, and as a result, false rumours spread that I had HIV. Growing up, I couldn’t understand why the other children didn’t want to play with me or sit with me in class. I even had to take my own crockery and cutlery to school as I wasn’t allowed to use the same utensils as the other children. The children weren’t the only ones who believed the lies – the teachers did, too. My stepfather had always been loving towards me as a child, but when I was about nine, he started to beat me. I discovered this was because people believed I was HIV positive, so they assumed he was, too. He was particularly angry because when he approached other women for love they would turn him down because they were afraid of getting infected. Up until this point I’d always thought my stepfather was my real dad, so it was a shock when I discovered he was actually my stepdad. It was an awful time – I thought I had a dad who loved me, then I realised I had a stepdad who hated me. When my stepfather’s abuse became too much, my mother escaped with me and my half siblings and we went to live on my grandparents’ land. Although we managed to get away from a terrible home life, things continued to be bad at school. Eventually, when I couldn’t face the bullying anymore, I dropped out of class and spent my time helping my mother raise my siblings instead. I would work on the farm and take produce to market to sell. Although my mother, brothers and sisters were very proud of me, we were still so poor, and I hated myself. I thought that I was ugly and that I would never have any friends. When I heard about the opportunity to train at Kira Farm I was so excited – and I was delighted to be selected! Life on Kira Farm I loved life on Kira and learnt so much. Speaking to other trainees made me stop complaining because I discovered other people had even worse problems than my own. The training taught me the trade of tailoring and helped to give me purpose. By the end of the training I felt beautiful and confident that I could succeed; and I was determined to help others prosper in life and share with them the love I had been so grateful to receive on Kira Farm. Moving Forward My life back home has been amazing! I am so grateful I returned to my village so positive about life and my future. My improved self-esteem helped me to address the stigma surrounding the rumour that I had HIV and made people realise that it was totally untrue. Because I faced these fears, I am now making friends in the village; something that has enabled me to run several successful businesses in the community. Kira taught me about good business management - I can count my profit and losses, which helps me to invest the income from my tailoring business. In just a few months of being home, I have moved from struggling to help my mother to buy simple things like soap and sugar, to helping her to pay the school fees for all my siblings, including two who had to drop out of school because we couldn’t afford the costs. Giving Back When I left Kira Farm, I was so determined to help other people to succeed and now on Saturdays I train four young people in tailoring – passing on the skills I was so blessed to receive at Kira Farm. I do this on a voluntary basis. I also share some of the conservation farming skills that I learnt with the community, enabling others to multiply their crop yields. Now, I am earning enough money to help at home and save money – something I never thought possible! I am saving about £20 a month so that I can eventually buy my own land for a big tailoring workshop. Before Kira Farm, life was hard. Now, I am so happy because I am able to succeed, and I feel beautiful and loved. Thank you so much to Park Community School. Your support has meant that I have learnt new skills, set up a business and I can help my mother support my half brothers and sisters. It has also helped me to love myself – thank you!