Loved 240 times! Feeling Worthless “My parents had seven children including me: five boys and two girls. We were very poor. In our culture, when a girl marries her family benefits from a dowry paid by the husband’s family. This can amount to a number of cows depending on what education the bride has; their beauty and how rich the future husband’s family might be. Dad was fuming about not having more girls as he always wanted to be rich and own lots of cows. No one can imagine how much he resented me and my sister. To make things worse, my brothers would torment me saying that I looked like a man, and not as beautiful as other girls. They called me ugly and said that no man would pay a substantial dowry with my looks. Because of this, I grew up feeling totally unloved and in fear of my future. When my father paid school fees, I was always the last one, and only then if there was any money to go around. He never bought schoolbooks for me, only for my brothers and sister. My mum felt sorry for me so she would buy me the books I needed, but I could never understand why my mum seemed to care for me, but she never stopped my brothers from bullying me, or my dad from publicly showing his disdain for me at every opportunity”. “After a long struggle I managed to complete my primary schooling at the age of 15. This is the time I met a young man who used to say beautiful things about me. I fell head over heels in love. I was happy for the first time in my life. I couldn't believe there was a young man who actually thought I was beautiful. I knew if I was ever going to make my father happy, I needed to get married and make sure he had some descent cows in return. I told by boyfriend that I was happy to go ahead and get married, but there was a catch. He said that I had to first get pregnant before he would pay any dowry. This was because my brothers told him I had the genes of a man. Not knowing what to do I gave in. I was desperate to prove to my brothers that I was like any other female, and to win the approval that I so craved from my father. So, at the age of 15 I left home to live with my future husband’s family and gave birth to a little baby girl”. “Things went from bad to worse, as soon as I gave birth my boyfriend said he couldn't pay a dowry because I was far too ugly, and what’s more I had given birth to an ugly daughter. Hearing this coming from the first man I had ever loved utterly destroyed me. I hated myself before I met him, but now I totally detested myself. My only option was to move back home; it was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make because I knew what would be coming if I moved back home. Thoughts of suicide crossed my mind, but I couldn't go through with it because of my little baby daughter. After my boyfriend threw me out, I slept in the bushes for a couple of days with my baby. Confused and in deep despair I gathered all the strength I could muster, and, with huge shame and apprehension I walked through the door of our family mud hut. As expected, my brothers and father welcomed me with a tirade of insults, which only confirmed how worthless I really was. I couldn’t take anymore so I totally gave up on myself”. Experiencing Love “To be honest, going for an interview to see if I could get a place at Kira Farm had nothing to do with wanting to be trained. It was a way of getting as far away from all the people who despised me as possible. I knew that if I didn’t do something soon, I would be likely to take my life. At this point, my daughter was three years old and old enough to be face life without me. So, I felt that nobody cared for me, or would even miss me. I was tired of being treated like a nobody, I wasn't even allowed to build my own hut. I was made to sleep in the dilapidated old kitchen as a sign I didn't belong. I always smelt burning and I was covered in dust from the open wood fire. No words can express fully what going to Kira Farm meant for me, but I felt relief, freedom and peace. Hearing that I was loved and being treated with love started the process of healing a lifetime of hurt. Nobody knew, but I counted the times I heard that I was loved: they numbered 240. Trust me, by the end of my training I was in no doubt I was loved. I hated mirrors before Kira but on Kira I would look in the mirror and loved the young lady that was looking back at me. I was determined to go back home and make my daughter feel special and know that she was loved”. Life after Kira:“My first three months were very difficult; I had not grown any food in my garden for a whole year. My brothers hated sharing what they had with me. The one good thing that kept me going was that I now loved myself! I focused on making a new start in life and didn't care if anyone hated me. I would make a point of constantly remembering what Joshua taught us about resolving a conflict and the restorative approaches we were taught at Kira. The greatest weapon against hate is loved, so no matter what anyone said or did, I decided to love them, and you won't believe the change I’m seeing. With a renewed mind and the conservation farming techniques I learnt at Kira, I’m expecting a profit of at least £450 from this season’s crops. With my tailoring business I’ve been able to send my child to school, costing £15 per month. Since returning home from Kira I found my mum quite poorly. I’m paying half her medical bills, which is surprising the whole family. I challenge anyone to talk to my family and ask them how they feel about me now. You won’t ever hear words like ugly or worthless. There’s a lot more I want to achieve, but I’ve conquered the greatest thing in my life – to love myself. I know achieving the rest will be easy in comparison”.