Keziya, 25, endured a childhood of poverty, neglect and abuse. Her schooling was sporadic and when she was 14 she was raped, fell pregnant, and gave birth alone – losing her baby and nearly losing her own life. She was forced to marry her rapist and when she ran away her parents married her off a further two times, always to abusive husbands.

When Keziya arrived at Kira Farm she felt utterly worthless. After a year of healing and training, she left in December 2017 with her head held high, ready to embark on a new life.

Today Keziya runs a tailoring and hairdressing business. She rents a home for herself and her children, pays their school fees, and even manages to save a little. Keziya is currently supporting a number of girls who have faced similar challenges in life and plans to set up community farming groups to pass on her new skills and educate more young women about their worth.

Growing up
Keziya’s family were very poor and struggled to make ends meet. Her parents divorced when she was three and her mother remarried, taking Keziya with her. Suddenly Keziya had eight step-siblings and her stepfather was adamant he didn’t want any more children in the home. He would beat Keziya’s mother and force the young girl to work long hours in the garden. ‘The garden was my prison, I was there every day from 5.00 am to 7.00 pm when it got dark, I wasn’t wanted at home.’ she explains. Occasionally her stepfather would send her to a very poor school which was so far away she would have to walk almost four hours a day.

Horror of abuse
Often, on her journeys to and from school, Keziya would look for odd jobs to buy food or personal items such as underwear. ‘As I grew older I felt ashamed walking around without any underwear on and was desperate for a bra and some pants,’ she explained. On one such occasion Keziya found a job weeding a sugar cane garden and was promised 11 pence in payment.

The owner, who was old enough to be her father, came into the garden and raped her. He threatened that if she dared tell anyone he would speak to her stepfather and say she had been stealing from him.
‘In pain and shock, I went to the nearby stream to wash off the blood and walked home in fear,’ Keziya says. ‘I have never talked about it until today.’

Trauma and misery
After a few months it became apparent Keziya was pregnant and, to her shock, her mother and stepfather were pleased because it meant she would be leaving them. The young, traumatised, girl was forced to return to her rapist in order to be his third wife, at the age of 15.

Some of the other children in the home were almost the same age as Keziya and she felt ashamed to be the wife of a man old enough to be her father. Despite her pregnancy she was badly treated and forced to make meals for the whole family. When she wasn’t cooking, she would have to graze the cattle and it was while doing this that she gave birth to her first daughter in the bush. ‘I was in a lot of pain and no one was there to help me,’ she remembers. ‘In the end my daughter died and I was found helpless with my dead baby. I nearly lost my life as well.’

Struggling to find happiness
Unable to bear any more mistreatment, Keziya eventually ran home to her parents who married her off to another man in return for the dowry of a goat. Keziya had a baby girl with her second husband, but he would be violent whenever he came home drunk. Tired of being beaten, Keziya returned once more to her parents who soon married her off again.

‘This time the man gave my parents two kilograms of sugar and two chickens as a dowry because I was of less value to my new husband as I had already given birth,’ says Keziya. The pattern continued and Keziya was mistreated by her third husband - by the time she was interviewed for Kira Farm she had run away from her third husband and was living with her parents again. ‘I returned home with two children which made it difficult for my parents to find a man who would marry me, I was worthless,’ says Keziya.

Rest and love
‘What a great rest I had on Kira,’ smiles Keziya. ‘I will always be grateful for the wonderful teaching I received. I thought I was destined to a life of torture and no longer saw any value in myself.’ It was a life-changing year. ‘On Kira I received true love and I’m so grateful to Josh and Mary (Kira staff members) for showing me what a happy marriage looks like. ‘Having glitters put on my face while doing the Shine girl programme gave me true happiness and I now know I was not only beautiful on the inside but God had made me beautiful outside. Trust me, by the time I left Kira I was walking with my head up high’ she beams.

Baby steps towards a happier life
It wasn’t easy to return home to the family who had made her life so painful. ‘I am taking baby steps in learning how to forgive, especially my mother, because she should have protected me,’ says Keziya. Today Keziya goes to church where she says she is surrounded by wonderful and supportive people. ‘I have started helping other young girls at church who have faced similar challenges in life. The more I help them, the more I am being healed from my past,’ she explains.

Success in business
Thanks to the skills she acquired at Kira Farm, Keziya now runs a hair salon and tailoring shop and has continued with the chapatti and doughnut-making business she started at Kira. She is also implementing the Farming God’s Way (conservation farming) techniques she learnt at Kira.

‘I can now rent a house for myself and my children, pay for them to attend school, and I am able to save a little in case of emergencies,’ explains Keziya. ‘I am slowly rebuilding my life and I am hopeful of a bright future.’

Keziya plans to form different farming groups in her community to pass on her new skills, and is looking forward to using this platform to educate girls in their self-worth. ‘If I had known before Kira how special I was, I would never have allowed myself to be subjected to all the abuse I went through as a young girl,’ she says. ‘Thank you Amigos, for helping me realise how special I am and helping me regain my true beauty.’