“ I was driven to illicit drugs after being raped by my Dad, I’m now HIV positve cant tell if i got it though sharing Heroin needles or prostitution”
“Dreadful, painful and agonizing events occurred in my life, these events will never fade away, the ghosts of my teen have haunted me all my life. I was betrayed by the one person I should have trusted the most, my Step Father”, said Pauline Wanjiku.
Pauline was born and bred in Githuthurai, Nairobi, in a family of four, to a single mother. As a child, she grew up in a God fearing family unit. Never lacked any thing her mum single handedly raised them. “My mum married my step dad when I was just 14years. At first i was excited since finally i would have a father figure in the family.” said soft spoken Pauline . My step dad turned out to be overly loving showering me with gifts and money, then one day when mother was away, i realized that the niceties i was getting had ulterior motive ,my step-father sexually abused me and raped me “ she paused, tears running down freely down her cheeks.
At this point i was lost for words in my entire career i have never been this jolted , my collegue Diana Moraa was equally dazed offered Pauline a hankie wiped her tears then held her hand and walked Pauline to the beach nearby while comforting her. Amid sobs Pauline continued “How could my dad rape me, I trusted him? , my virginity had been raped away from me with his firm grip of hands over my eyes and mouth. The defilement took place daily at our home. I kept putting off telling anybody about what had happened because I was afraid that nobody would believe me, I suffered in silence and agony. “ Pauline explained sadly
I later gathered courage and told my mother about this incident but, when she confronted him, he denied ever having done the barbaric acts to me. Shock dawned on me when my own mother never believing me and whipped silly accusing me of lying. tormented, dejected, i was alone each night crying myself to sleep dreading the beastly acts when mum would be away.
This really affected my studies i was so traumatized, my heart became detached from all human love. Living through the shame of abuse from a person i call my dad, left me feeling filthy and scared, how could he take away my womanhood.I became rebellious in school and alcohol was my only solace to face the daily brutal ordeals. I even started absconding school and was expelled from school for gross misconduct. My mother with advice from my step dad took me to a rehab centre in Malindi where i stayed for three months. There i met and flirted with a boy which was against the rules and we ended up being punished with hard labour at rehab centre. We eloped and both in the flight of passion soon relapsed into alcoholism, he then introduced me to hard drugs. i was only16-years-old when I first smoked heroin it was totally in love with heroin and how it treated me. It caressed my soul with gentle floods of warmth in an ecstatic union of love. Heroin seemed so friendly. I had never felt so good before an out of this world feeling. I felt so free, so alive, so in control, so happy and carefree.
But after the heroin wore off the side effects were an experience i never want anyone to go through. My body was so itchy, dry and patched mouth, i was feeling so cold yet the sun was blazing hot. Dizzy spells, clouded vision, no eating or drinking, vomiting, diarrhoea, Hallucination, Insomnia, and body shocks. This forced me turn to prostitution to get money for buying my daily doses . In comfort of the drug dens i found love and care, my fellow drug addicts were my family, we shared basically everything from food, clothes and best of all snorted , smoked and shared needles to inject the much sought after drugs.
In reality, my life was ruined as I became a relentless chaser of my own lost life. For two years life became so hard as i had to take care of my lazy boyfriend and our very costly drug lifestyle. Prostitution and heroin were the only life I had in me. When I did not have Heroin i sunk deep into depression, empty darkness would straightaway engulf me and leave me only what could alleviate my aching hurt heart . I visited L’Alba rehabilitation centres so many times as it was the only free rehab centre in Malindi, but all was in vain as i kept running away soon after i felt a little better. I began to see myself as a totally hopeless case. I would inject heroin countless times a day from whatever time I awoke from the sweet highness of the drug. This become my daily routine only punctuated by bouts of prostitution. One day i became so severely ill for about two weeks, i could not be able to go out, eat or get energy to sell my body to raise money. I was evicted from the guest house at night which had been my home for about two years since i could not pay rent and all my personal belongings consficated by the landlord. I was left clad on only in a leso to cover my nakedness. Weak and helpless, drowned in deep thought and stinging pain, it finally dawned on me I had nowhere to go.
The mere thought of going to live in the drug den was out of the question, i opted to walk 5Km to L’Alba Rehab Centre in Malindi, David Liuija Massimiliano received me clothed me and took me to hospital. Tears rolled freely, i came to my senses three days after admission, i was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and tested positive for HIV. I cant tell if i got it though sharing Heroin needles or prostitution, I hit rock bottom, how could i be HIV+ I’m only 18years old, i contemplated suicide, my life was fading away right in front of my eyes. I had vivid hallucinations and heard voices from past memories I never wanted to tell anyone my story.
I got re-admitted back to the rehab centre with warm hands, I’m now one months drug free. I want to thank God, David Liuija Massimiliano of L’Alba Rehab Centre and Kenya Red Cross for supporting my treatment and rehabilitation program at the centre, I now feel loved again. “The ability of people to heal from a damaging experience is related to their ability to confront their own feelings of fear, terror, anger, rage, confusion, helplessness, and vulnerability” said Pauline Wanjiku “ I felt so helpless , still emotionally upset. sometimes I do not want to talk, I just want to cry and I feel so unclean. People do not understand the severity of rape until it happens to them or one of their family members. It is so hurtful to see violence happening every day including rape. It hurts even more to see people we trust like our parents sitting and not acting, but guarding this secret with their lives.” She continued while we walked on the beach. “ I would like to conclude with one message to young girls, this is in the hope that somebody is really listening out there. There is NO happiness in DRUGS, it is pure illusion! Don’t be cheated! HIV is real”
Pauline Wanjiku is now, a recovering addict is undergoing a detoxification programme at the Malindi District Hospital and Rehab and counselling at La Alba centre. By the time we went to press, she was one month free of drugs. She hopes to go back to school and pursue her education and become a Lawyer to champion , child defilement cases . Once fully recovered Pauline wants to become Kenya Red Cross Volunteer and Harm reduction facilitator to mentor Youth on the dangers of Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS.
La’Alba Rehabilitation Centre which is located at beach front fishermen village near Malindi district headquarters is supported by the Kenya Red Cross Harm Reduction project in Mombasa. Kenya Red Cross with funding from IFRC has scaled up, harm reduction services to coastal residents that save lives and slow the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne and sexually-transmitted infections. Phase one of the Harm Reduction project started early this year with a main focus on prevention of harm related to drug and substance Abuse. High incidence of drug abuse has been noted in most parts of Coast Province with alarming rates in Kwale, Kilifi, Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu. The most affected age group is the youth and young adults who are the reproductive and economically dependent age group of the community. The project has Improved community knowledge, attitudes and practices as regards drug and substance abuse thus promote positive behaviour change in schools, Colleges, communities and Prison. Kenya Red Cross aims to reduce level of stigma associated with drug and substance abuse and facilitate social reintegration for drug abusers who have undergone treatment and rehabilitation program.