‘It’s terrible growing up with a stepmother who hates you,’ says Beth, 18. ‘Whenever my father travelled for work my life would become a nightmare. My stepmother tortured me and controlled my every move.
‘She made me do all the housework, but she wouldn’t let me eat. Whenever she left the house she would lock me in so that I couldn’t tell anyone what was going on. She turned me into a slave in my own home.’
‘She spat in my food’
‘If she did give me food, she would spit in it first. I hated her, and then I began hating myself too. There were numerous times when I thought about ending my own life because I couldn’t bear the suffering anymore. My stepmother even turned my father against me - he would refuse to listen to anything I said and would brutally punish me whenever she told lies about me.
‘When I heard about the interviews for Amigos’ Kira Farm Development Centre I knew this was my chance to escape. I didn’t even tell my father about my plans as he was arranging to marry me off.
Healing from pain and hate
‘At Kira Farm I was rehabilitated from the inside out. At the beginning I was very quiet and I had a strange attitude - some of the trainees wondered if I was mentally ill.
‘Although the staff were really nice to me I thought they were just pretending, like my stepmother had done when she first married my dad.
‘After a couple of months I started to loosen up. The wonderful discipleship, training in restorative justice and the lovely environment at Kira started to seep into me, healing the pain and hate I had towards people.
A new attitude
‘When I went home for the semester break I actually managed to smile and greet my stepmother. She was completely puzzled by my kind and lovely attitude towards her and my step-siblings, even when she was being horrible to me.
‘Thanks to the wonderful business training we received by the time I left Kira Farm I had saved £4.00 and I used this money to buy some hair extensions so I could put into practise my new hairdressing skills back home.
‘It was nearly Christmas time when I got back – just when all the women in the village want to look their best. I plaited a number of women’s hair and by Christmas I had made £16.00. I had never earned a shilling before I went to Kira!
‘I haven’t looked back and have now rented a shop in a nearby town where I have set up a hairdressing salon. There’s been a drought so people haven’t made much money from their crops, but I’m still thankful to God that I have been able to make at least £2.00 a week.
Learning how to love
‘Kira taught me to how to forgive and also how to love. I chose to forgive my stepmother and show my love by using some of my savings to buy school books and stationery for my stepbrothers and stepsisters.
‘My stepmother was overwhelmed when I did this and broke down crying, asking for my forgiveness. I never, ever, expected her to do this.
‘Since then she has been treating me well and this has given me the chance to share about Christ, I’m happy that we are all going to church together now.
‘Recently some ladies came into my salon and asked me for directions to the witchdoctor who changed my heart for my stepmother. They wanted to change the heart of their husbands and co-wives who hate them.
‘Instead I shared with them everything I learnt in the discipleship training at Kira. Some of them have begun trusting God and handling issues in a restorative way and they’re so happy their lives have changed.
‘At Kira we learnt about health and hygiene and I have taught my family how to build and use a tippy tap (a tap for village settings) which has improved the hygiene in my family. My step brothers and sisters used to be sick all the time, but since I’ve been home nobody has needed to go to the hospital.
‘Today I am able to save over £1.00 every month and I hope to pool my capital with the other Kira graduates from Kaliro and start up a vocational training place by the end of the year.
‘It’s only been four months since I graduated from Kira Farm and I have achieved so much – I will always be thankful to God for the opportunity I was given by Amigos!’
Amigos Worldwide is a registered Charity/NGO both in the UK and Uganda.
Amigos Worldwide, Registered in England, Company Number 6122350, Registered Charity Number 1119450
Registered Office 7A Beech Grove, Pilton, Barnstaple, Devon. EX31 1PZ
(Amigos International and Amigos are working names of Amigos Worldwide)