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The voice of an orphan

I am an orphan. I am 17 years old and I am a Form Four candidate this year. I am in boarding school and I am working extra hard. I want to go to University. My mother died when I was seven, My father died when I was six. My grandmother died when I was eight. My grandfather is alive but very poor. He never went to school. He cannot read or write and when I spend time reading my books he grabs them from me and beats me hard…very hard. He says I must help him with the farmwork as I will not get married to the books I am concentrating on. Grandfather is very harsh. Whenever I see him I feel terrified.
My parents loved me and I think my grandfather loves me too. I think if he had gone to school, he would treat me better.
Grandfather keeps saying that orphans are trouble. That we are spoilt and expect to be treated in a special way. This is not true. Relatives mistreat orphans and some are even denied food.
When my parents died, my grandfather took me to live with my father’s brother. He is a mechanic and fixes cars in a garage that smells of petrol. He has blue dirty oily overalls which he wears everyday. He usually looks very filthy. My family turned me into a housegirl. At seven years, I was cooking and caring for children much older than myself. Uncle has four children.

Grandfather was not happy with my uncle because he had promised to take me to school together with his other children. But I never went to school. He would give me a lot of housework as his children went to school. My parents used to be farm hands to a kind coupke in the settlement scheme. My grandfather went to my parents’ former employers and briefed them on my situation.

The farm lady said my mother used to work for her and was ever so honest. So to repay me for my mother’s honesty, she adopted me. She took me to one of the best primary schools in the country and she continues paying for my fees and my shopping. But she drives me rather hard. She always wants me to be top of my class. Last term she was not very happy with my report because I had moved from No three to No 12. I promised I would work harder. Grandfather shouted at me and told the farm lady to stop paying my fees. He said I should now get married.

My brother died last term and the teacher would not allow me to attend his funeral. We were only two in the family. I guess this affected my results. Now I am alone. And I hang onto my books with all my might. They are my only hope, you know.

Thanks to you my sweet farm-lady for caring for orphans. And to all orphans, I say be strong. There is hope out there.

Copyright Omwa Ombara 2012

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