A COMPANIONSHIP RE-AFFIRMING MY VALUE.
My name is Aduke Christine and I am 35 years old, I joined Meeting Point International (MPI) in 2011, I have now been a member for nine years now. I come from Kaberamaido in the Eastern part of Uganda, am a kumam by tribe but I speak Acholi language as well. My husband is called Labeja Carlos and he is an Acholi from Agago district in the northern part of Uganda. I got to learn Acholi from his family members. I stay with Carlos, my young sister (Lucy 14years) and my two children (Sandra 11 years and Emma 5years). We stay in Kireka D. I met Carlos several years back when I was still at school, I was in senior four by then. I got pregnant and gave birth to Sandra, I didn’t go back to school again. I started to stay with him from then onwards. Living with Carlos was not bad, we would have arguments and fights but we would solve them. However, in 2019, we had a major fight, he beat me up, abused me verbally and chased me from his place. There was no place I was left to go to other than my parents’ home that is in Kireka D.
My parents gave me little money to hire a small pickup car and collect my belongings, for Lucy and my children. We were staying in Kireka C by then when Carlos abused me. My parents welcomed me into their house but living there as an adult was very hard since, in most of our cultures, a grown woman is supposed to be in her home regardless of the problems she is facing. Around the same period, I was having problems with Carlos, I also lost my job. I was working at Darling, a company that makes hair products. This made life harder. Even with these problems I was facing, I would still attend the weekly meetings that the women of MPI would have with Rose. But I had quickly turned from the lively woman I used to be during the meetings to a shell of that. I would go for the meetings, sit and just look on. I was very depressed and stressed out. What made it even harder is that I heard Carlos had got another woman. I would sit and watch other women, they all looked happy like they were not facing any problems. Soon they noticed that I wasn’t happy, I then narrated to them what I was facing. Most of them shared with me the problems that they were having and I realised that some of them had bigger and more problems than I did. What perplexed me is that they still managed to remain happy amidst the problems.
I was counselled by some of them, the social workers like Jackie and Teddy, and aunt Rose who reminded me of my value. All these made me stronger and able to face the hardships I was facing without reducing myself to them. With this new awareness, life became simpler for me. I now concentrated on making myself a better person. My mother suggested that I should join in in her business. She brews local alcohol commonly known as ‘marua’ here in Uganda. I agreed to her suggestion and joined her business. I then started to save every coin through the saving groups that we have, I was doing this on a weekly basis. In January 2020, through the savings I got, I managed to buy a small piece of land in Kireka D close to my parents’ home. I continued to work hard to save some money so as I could construct a house for myself. My mother supported me as well, she lent me some money to help me with my plans. Within some months, I had started constructing my one-roomed house. When I was almost finished with it, my husband heard that life was getting better for me and he decided to meet me. He apologised for what he did to me and wanted us to get back together. I really hesitated to have him back in my life and it took some time before I really forgave him but I finally did. I forgave him because of the teachings that I had received from the meetings with Rose and other women. I also couldn’t imagine myself with another man besides the father of my children considering my age as well. My heart was free and whatever he didn’t make me become a bitter person because I knew my value. He requested to participate in constructing the house though I had done most of the work already. He provided money for cementing it and connecting electricity into it. Today, I eat and even get satisfied, this is because I open and close my door for myself with no query from anyone. My husband works as a window and door fitter, he now provides some support for the family. We are planning to expand the house when we get some money so as we can have a bedroom as well.
I noticed that when the relationship between me and my husband changed, my children also became happier. One of them called Sandra, changed so much. When we used to fight a lot with my husband, she would cry and even refuse to eat. Her social worker noticed that she was always sad and less lively compared to other children. But when we sorted out things with my husband, she became happy, livelier and she opened up a lot. She is now able to express herself much better than she could before. I then realised that the relationship parents have with each other really affects our children.
Everyone needs a shoulder that they can lean on in times of need because a problem will never overcome or suffocate you if you are really attached to someone who loves you and helps you realise your human value and dignity. One that can encourage, advise and always welcomes you at all times. For me, I have Meeting Point International and this is where I belong.
Compiled by Adoch Mary Clare