by Mekhala Chaubal
Published on: Apr 29, 2009
Type: Experiences

Sarah, 20, Salvation Army Camp, Kenya

It is nine ‘o’clock at night in Kenya when I call Sarah, and as soon as she picks up, phone with shouts and noises of women’s voices in the background. Amidst all of this, Sarah’s stands out. We talk about various things, and she begins to tell me about herself.

Born in a small village in the township adjacent to Nairobi, Sarah was diagnosed with physical disabilities that required her to use crutches, but was unable to, because of her family’s financial issues. At fourteen, her classmates donated one to her, while a hospital where she had surgery arranged for another during recuperation. Sarah still uses the same ones, ‘and I need to be careful with them, or I won’t be able to walk much.’

After having to leave school soon after her surgery, and because of her physical constraints, Sarah had no choice but to take to the streets of her hometown. ‘I would beg, because I had to.’ She says.

In January of 2009, Sarah was given the money for bus fare to Nairobi by a friend, which led her to the Salvation Army Camp, where she was enrolled in a dressmaking course. Unfortunately, she has not been able to afford the fees for this program, and is worried she might not be able to return when classes begin in May. For April, she will return to her village, where she says she has, ‘friends and nice people who will help her for the month.’ She hopes to be able to find the money for her fees, but is worried, because ‘there are no jobs for people like me in Kenya, or they are very difficult to find.’ She knows she would be happy to work hard, if given the chance, and says she, ‘wants to be a successful tailor and dressmaker,’ and ‘wants to show everyone what I can do.’

Above it all, she says, there is one thing that worries her the most. ‘Whatever it is, I don’t want to go back to begging on the streets.’ She pauses. ‘Even a little bit of help, in any direction, will be enough to inspire me to succeed.’

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