| This is the 148th story of Our Life Logs |
Nothing melts my heart like watching the little smile on a baby’s face. The clutched tiny hands, the feet kicking freely in the air—just the soft scent of a baby is captivating. It sets butterflies in my stomach with anticipation. Unfortunately, I am still waiting to raise a child of my own.
I was the youngest in a family of four, born in the late 1980s in the sleepy village of Lower Nyakach, Kenya. I was barely five years old when my mother died. My father was clueless about how to take care of a child alone, so I spent the better part of my childhood being “shared” by different relatives who took turns exploiting me. I felt like a parcel, always packaged for the next delivery. Most aunts who took me in only did so because they wanted a house servant in exchange. I quickly adapted and learned to do house chores before I even knew how to write my name. It was my selling point. The moment I set foot into their compounds, I would be put to work so that they could enjoy more family time.
My typical day would start before the cock crowed. I would scrub the floors, do laundry, prepare breakfast, and wait for my host family to finish their meals so I could salvage what was left and feed myself. That was followed by a thorough scrubbing of the dishes and resetting them for the next meal. It was an endless cycle. Despite being enrolled in school, the silent rule was that my classwork would be the last thing I did. Most of the time, I never had enough energy left to lift a page. In my quiet moments, I longed to get the attention of my father and let him take care of me.
It was not until 2001 when I was in fifth grade that I had a reprieve. My grandmother took me in and my definition of love got a new meaning. She never asked me to do any chores, though I did them out of respect for her taking me in and showing me kindness. I knew she loved me. When I got tired as I worked, she would take over for me and allow me to rest. While I lived with her, I got more time for homework and to enjoy being a child.
I should have known those happy moments were fleeting.
Two years later, my wish to live with my father came true. I was both excited and anxious. Even though I was sad that I was leaving the woman who was like a mother to me, I had hope that my father’s presence would quench my deep desire for his attention.
When I got to his house, I walked back into my worst fear. I learned that my father had already remarried and moved on. He even had other children, but I was not close to them at first. I ended up becoming a babysitter for my step-siblings. My step-mother took advantage of my father’s disinterest in me and turned me into their house servant. Sometimes I worked so late at night that I would fall asleep with food in my mouth.
Despite my bitterness, my heart eventually warmed up to my father’s children. Instead of taking my frustration out on them, I fell in love with their innocence and kind hearts. Through them, a desire to one day nurture kids was ignited. After finishing my primary education, my elder sister asked me to stay with her during my secondary education, and I agreed, even though it meant leaving the kids behind. I realized that there was nothing much left to salvage from my relationship with my father. It was my turn to move on.
I completed high school in 2008, and throughout the four years, I felt cared for in a manner I had desperately longed for. My sister took over the role of a mother. She helped me break my self-depreciating thoughts. I finally believed that I was valuable, not to be disposed of at any given time. Through her kindness, I developed self-confidence, was able to better express myself, and became less anxious and shy. Things finally began to look normal.
In 2010, I met and married my husband. He brought so much joy into my life and gave me the love I’d been searching for. He not only listened to me but motivated me to be myself and explore whatever I wanted in life. He encouraged me to enroll into an early childhood training (ECD) college after he saw how natural I was with children. He knew the career would be a great fit for me, and when my sister seconded his idea, I registered and trained as an ECD teacher.
With my career on the right track, I was ready to move onto the next chapter of my life. We began trying for a child. After three years without any luck, we started visiting hospitals and undergoing numerous medical check-ups to identify the problem. After many visits, nothing could be pinpointed. I began to feel hopeless, as if pregnancy was never going to happen for me. Self-doubt crept back into my mind. To an outsider, I looked happy, but I was dying a little bit more inside with each passing day. Something was wrong with me.
Determined to hold my head high, I decided to focus more on my career. I started my own ECD daycare and nursery school, naming it “Beliok,” a combination of my husband’s and my name. My husband helped me get the school started. Since we couldn’t have a child of our own just yet, our family grew through the kids I took care of in the school. All day, I took care of others’ children, yet God had not found it appropriate to bless my womb yet. It was emotionally draining and frustrating, but I tried to make the best of my situation. I make my work stand out so much that when a parent comes to pick their child up, the child cannot stop talking about how much fun they’ve had and how excited they are to come in and see me the next day. That feeling is something I wouldn’t trade for anything.
The process and the financial requirements for adoption is a nightmare in Kenya, so I have never even tried to adopt. I keep waiting for my womb to be blessed with my own child. For now, I take heart in what I do each day, caring for the children in my school. Truly, it’s a commitment. Some friends have gossiped behind my back, mocking me and scorning my lack of biological children. Before I give in to pity, I remember how far I have come in life, realize that I pursue what I love, and it becomes much easier to ignore anyone who thinks differently. Through it all, I am grateful that my husband has given me his unconditional support and shares in my pain.
We have been trying to have a child for eight years now with no success, but I am still optimistic. When a new child enrolls in my school, I take a moment to thank God for giving me a chance to care for another little angel. While waiting on God’s time, I will spend every single day of my life taking care of the innocent children left in my care, something that keeps me fulfilled. I know that, eventually, my time will come.
This is the story of Belinder Awour
Belinder grew up without the love of her mother who died when she was only five years old. Left under the care of relatives, she quickly learned how to make herself useful, and in the process, developed an attachment to children. This set her to a career in childhood education. She owns “Beliok ECD and Daycare school” and spend her time putting smiles on the faces of children. Belinder is still childless but is waiting patiently for the day she is finally blessed with a child of her own. She lives with her caring husband within the school’s compound. She can’t help but smile when she receives the children she teaches each day. Caring for them always lifts her spirits.
This story first touched our hearts on August 27, 2018.
| Writer: Opondo Maureen | Editors: Kristen Petronio; Colleen Walker |