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Wednesday, 27 September 2017 19:33

Breaking the vicious cycle of poverty, sex work and drugs

At age 25, Sinfrosa Njeri, a mother of one seven year old boy has been through what seems to have been a journey of a thousand miles. Born in Mukuru informal settlement in Nairobi County, Kenya, she found herself in a home where her mother struggled to feed and educate her and her siblings. At the time, her mother sold bananas at two shillings each which gave them a meager earning to survive on. At the tender age of 12, Sinfrosa began her

debut into sex work. She quickly discovered that the men in the neighborhood could give quick money for much needed food and supplies. She narrates her story,

“Out of poverty and desperation and believing that this was the best way for me to survive in the slums, I began sex work when I was twelve and continued on with the trade through my adolescent life. I completed class eight but did not continue on to secondary school. I ran away from home and tried to secure employment and trying out business ventures like selling soap. All this time I still went on with sex work to earn a stable living.”

 

Sinfrosa began to take drugs in order to numb the pain. The night life was not as rosy as she portrayed to her friends. She was smiling on the outside and completely broken on the inside. Deep within during moments of self-reflection, she regretted the path she had chosen that was riddled with demeaning abuse from clients some of whom would abuse her and leave without paying.  Still, not seeing a chance to get out of the vicious cycle of sex work and drugs, Sinfrosa soldiered. At age 18, she got pregnant and got her baby boy, but things did not work out with her partner and she took the boy to her mother’s house. She later landed a job in Mombasa. This is where things turned for the worst.

“I had a day time job which I did not do very well. My real job was working the streets at night. Eventually, I lost my day job. This made me extremely desperate because sex work did not guarantee stable income. At one point I was homeless and I would sleep on the beach. I increased my intake of drugs to completely numb the pain and not have to deal with reality. Only God knows how I survived the abuse I experienced because clients and strangers would take advantage of my drunken stupor to abuse me. I was also very sickly. I feared daily that I would die, but I was not ready to die. I thought of my son who was back home with my mother and felt that I needed to live and take care of him,”  narrated Sinfrosa.

In 2015 when she was 23 years old, Sinfrosa went back home and decided to try get a fresh start. She began selling coffee in the neighborhood. It is during this time that she came across a DREAMS enrollment that was being carried out by HOPE worldwide Kenya (HWWK) and she remembered her dreams of becoming a fashion designer. She enrolled for the fashion and design course offered at the Mukuru Center of HOPE. Soon she realized that there may be, after all, some light at the end of the tunnel.

“As I began the fashion and design classes, I also found that I could access counseling and there was a clinic where I could check my HIV status and get a health check-up and treatment for free. I was reluctant at first, but because HWWK staff and mentors were friendly and open and there was no stigmatization, I was able to open up and get much needed support. I can now confidently say that my life has turned completely around. I completed my fashion and design class and I am planning on getting a sewing machine so that I can set up a business . I am now a mentor at the Mukuru Center of HOPE and I help other young girls who are facing the same struggles I did in this slum. I encourage them using my story and using the mentorship skills I have learnt during the mentorship trainings given by HWWK. I am determined to raise my son and not to return to the streets because I have been empowered to see that I can accomplish more in life using my newly acquired entrepreneurial skills. I am also reaching out to my community and sensitizing them about HIV prevention in the hope that I will help people shun risky behavior,” concludes a determined Sinfrosa.

Last modified on Saturday, 02 December 2017 21:40
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