Walking with a Dream and Love you can achieve the impossible – Arianna Waruguru Kamuyu, Kenya, Greece by Life Treasure Collector
I am 27yrs old born and raised in Kenya. I am the 2nd born and first girl in the family of 5 children. My dad is not here with us anymore but my mum is alive and well.
My background is not the one I could wish on any child but looking back I have gained a lot of strength from it. My dad was a drunkard and a violent person, who also struggled with his life. I remember he could spend all his money on alcohol and forget to buy food for us but my mum did her best. He could then start beating my mum and sometimes chase her away. I had no option but to take up the role of being a mum to my siblings. We were not spared either from the beatings.
I remember one day he beat my mum really bad that me and my brother, who at that time we were around 12 & 14yrs old, had to intervene. She left us for one year. Life was really hard that sometimes I could go and wash our neighbours’ utensils to get money for food. I remember one day this guy called me to wash for him…I was desperate so I went not knowing what I was getting myself into…He closed the door wanting to rape me but I fought myself off him. I managed to open the door. I never shared this with anybody because I believed nobody cared for us. All of our neighbours were well off…They had a good life. But I had one hope that one day everything will be ok
It was hard for me to find balance between being my siblings’ mother and my schoolwork. Most of the times I was being punished for not doing my homework. School fees were a problem and most of the times we were sent home but the only thing my dad could do was to send us to dig in the field. Nobody ever asked us or check our reports. …but I was trying my best hoping that one day I will change our lives. My mum didn’t manage to go far in her education due to school fees, so she got married at the age of 17yrs old. She couldn’t do much about the situation. My dad was a plumber and was working on few rental houses but all his money was spent for alcohol.
2004 was the hardest year as I had to sit for my final examination in primary school, which was crucial for my enrolment in high school. We didn’t have electricity, so I had to use kerosene lit to study. I remember I got sick, my stomach was in pain and I was vomiting blood and my mum took me to the hospital and I was told to stop being stressed. I had acute ulcers which was triggered by stress…I was 15yrs old. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure about joining high school, if I failed or I passed the exams. I worked really hard. We were in the same class with my brother who seemed that he lost hope…We did our final exams I passed with a good grade and I was accepted by a good high school. My brother didn’t have good grades but he was also accepted by a local high school.
Dad didn’t care. I was crying day and night so that I could join high school. My mum couldn’t help either because she was jobless and helpless. So my grandmother (rip) my mum’s mother took me to a cheap boarding school…I asked my brother what to do and he told me “Go and study. You are great”. He gave me 300sh that he got from doing manual work. But then again my dad got sick he was diagnosed with diabetes. The disease changed him a little bit and he started coming to visit me at school and pay some money towards it. He really tried. But his health started deteriorating and he became weak.
In 2006 I had to change schools because I was under performing, so my dad’s sister decided to transfer me into a provincial school. My dad did his best to pay my fees…It was also hard but I really worked hard as, in spite of my dad being sick, his struggle with alcohol was out of control. He was also struggling to pay for my fees.
My other small siblings were still in primary school. In 2005 the primary school became free so they didn’t have to struggle a lot. In 2007 I sat for my high school examination, the final one. I remember before the exams, it was a prayers day where the family of the students would came to pray, visit and encourage them…as usual I was expecting my mum and Aunty, because I knew my dad was sick. He had lost a lot of weight and was walking supporting himself on a walking stick. I was in class when someone told me that my grandfather was down waiting for me. (All my grandfathers are dead) I was still bitter with my dad, so I went to find my “grandfather” and he greeted me. I didn’t know what to say but I cried seeing my dad in that state. He asked me what I want to study after high school I told him a nurse. ..but again I didn’t have hopes of going to university, because of the fees.
I passed my exams and people came to congratulate me. I got two letters from universities. But I had lost all of my hopes by then. Earlier, my cousin who was in Greece told me she would help me to come to Greece and study because it was free and I would work and pay her some rent. So I started looking into that. If I waited to go to university in Kenya, I would never do it. My dad was sick and there were a lot of things going around. There was a time when people around started spreading rumours that we were witched. So I secretly prepared to come to Greece. Only my mum knew everything. I remember walking past my dad across the sitting room not knowing that it was the last time I was seeing him in life.
I wasn’t excited to come to Europe! The next day I called my mum and she told me my dad had a feeling that I was leaving. One week later I called my dad and I said I was sorry for not telling him I was leaving but instead he asked for forgiveness. We reconciled and for the first time he said he was proud of me and he loved me. He also reconciled with my other siblings. He became the dad I ever wanted. If I had to call him a long time, he would call me and tell me to save my money for my future. My cousin has a day care for foreigners, so I worked there and so I was able to refund her and also support my dad’s hospital bill. And yes I didn’t go to the university.
The first thing I did, apart from paying my dad’s hospital bill, was to reconnect electricity for my family. He was proud but still told me to save the money. By this time, his health was getting worse and I had finish paying my cousin money. But she started taking advantage of me. She stopped me from making my own friends. I remember a work colleague from Uganda told me that I was rich because I lived with my cousin. I told her my story and she was shocked. I had only 100 euro and at the same time my visa was expiring. So I had to apply for asylum and the lady helped me to find a house. The owner was very kind the house was 220€ plus the deposit 440€ but I only had 100€. He told me I could have the house and pay the rest of the money later. The house was furnished. My cousin wasn’t impressed of me moving out. She started saying bad things about me and cut my salary to 500€ and sometimes she was paying me very late. It was hard because I had to help my family and pay my rent and bills at the same time.
One day she said she needed one person of her staff to stop work, so I said I would. She wasn’t happy. She called my mum and told her lies about me but my mum stood by side and my dad, who was feeling things weren’t going my way, advised me to leave my cousin and take care of my life.
I found a babysitting position but I had to stop very soon as I wasn’t being paid. I stayed a month without work. I had little money only for food but, eventually, I found another job as a babysitter, which was 2 hours drive away from Athens. And I only had 12 hours off in two weeks. I never enjoyed working there. The kids were spoiled. The man had tempers and was a racist. On the other hand, the woman was full of threats. But they were paying slightly well. I had to stay and work there, as the situation with my dad was getting worse. He had one kidney. His lungs had a problem, ulcers. uric acid in the knees. And soon he was submitted to hospital. It was 2012, when his digestion track got infected. He had lost all teeth due to diabetes. Every time we talked he could tell me how much he wanted to die. His friend had left him. Some people were laughing at him. It was really painful to me. All I wanted was my dad to be okay. One week before he died the doctor said he has to feed on a pipe with special fluid food which was costing 100€ everyday for 11 days. At that time it was difficult for him to talk. I sent him the money and I called him. He told me that since I didn’t have the documents I couldn’t go back home but instead he told me to make Greece a stepping-stone to greatness. He also told me to look for another cousin who was in Greece in order to help me. I did and he was soo happy. On the 20th of April, I called my brother so that I could talk to my dad. He told me he was on oxygen. But he tried to talk to me. He called me with my mum’s name. I didn’t know that was the last time to talk to him. My grandmother picked the phone and told me to release my dad because he was really suffering and from then I could expect anything to happen.
On 21st April 2012 in the morning at work, my cousin called me and asked me if I had talked to anybody at home, I said no. I remember I was alone in the house with the kid, babysitting. She told me “your dad left us today at 4:00pm”. I felt like it was the end of the world. I called my lady boss. I couldn’t go home for burial but my boss refused to give me some days off to mourn my dad. I worked and sent the money for the burial.
After two weeks I decided to leave Greece to Germany using fake papers but I was caught. The police were so friendly and they told me to go back and find work. Just when I was out of the airport I received a phone call from a lady requesting for a babysitter. I went for an interview and got the job. Then, the same year my favourite grandmother died. My world was torn apart.
After a while the new lady couldn’t afford to pay me. I left and but there was still 1,200€ to be paid. She never paid and I said no need to ask since she couldn’t afford it. I found another one but they were paying badly and I was paying school fees for my sister who is studying law. I tried until she made it.
On March 2014, I went to register to an agency. They looked at me and said they had work for me in Patra, as a housekeeper. The next day I had an interview with the owner of the house and I didn’t want to fail but all she said was that I was the one they were looking for and I shouldn’t worry she would teach me everything. The next day I went to the house and everyone loved me. The work in not hard I work both at home and at their store. The lady treated me like her daughter. We agreed that I would save money and go to Australia to study. Within a year I have made a lot of changes to my family. I made my dad’s grave, I opened a cereal shop for mum and my big brother is now a constructor. My sister is a lawyer to be. My other brother is in the university doing IT. Our youngest born 10yrs is in primary school.
And I am now saving to go and study nursing in Australia, God wishes, next year. It may be a risk but I am willing to take it. When I look back at my life I feel great! And for sure I am strong!