To celebrate this special day, we want to share the story of Amani team member Vestina and her experience as a refugee. Witness how God loves, comforts, and transforms sorrow to joy.
The Story of Vestina
I was adopted by a lady in Burundi at a very young age. I have no idea who my parents are. A couple years later, the lady who adopted me arranged for me to marry someone as his second wife. I was very disappointed, because my husband was way older than me. I was very scared of him. By that time he had just left his job with Burundi’s army. One day, he just came home and told me that we needed to leave Burundi immediately. I didn’t ask much, but I suspected that it was something to do with the government. So we began our journey from Burundi to Kenya via Tanzania. This was about 7 years ago.
Settling in Kenya
My husband and I were hosted by his friends here in Kenya. After a little while, his friends moved to another country. Now it was just him, me and the bills. My husband started doing side jobs which would allow us to rent an affordable place, but the only task that I knew was farming. I loved farming because I grew up on a farm. When my husband was not able to get enough money to support us, I looked for jobs in the local market and found one in Kawangware. I could be paid 200 shillings (about1.7 dollars) for every 100 kg of groundnuts from which I sorted out all the bad ones and stones. This became my job for quite some time. Then, I met a lady there who told me about TUSA (Tushirikiane Africa) that can help me train in sewing. Then after training, they mentioned Amani Ya Juu to me.
Finally, I joined Amani Ya Juu. Here, I came to realize that my skills in stitching were little. Amani started training me, it was like a new beginning. At first, I didn’t know how to speak to people. I would just keep quiet. Later, I began opening up, and when I did I felt freedom in my heart. Here, we share our stories, and finally I started to feel like a person. In the past, I used to feel like I was nobody. Before, when I felt angry, I would think of death, because nobody cared about me. I don’t have any children, no parents, so what’s the point of living? Amani helped me to open up with other women. This has become my family. I call Amani “my parents”. Amani has walked with me when my marriage was falling apart. I experienced physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, and my heart was always troubled. Some of the Amani women who knew what was going on held my hands and went through all of it with me. Here, I have found friends and sisters. Sometimes, I feel like Amani has helped me more than my parents. I have learnt more skills in sewing and I have learnt how to make a lot of beautiful products. And I am able to support myself now that I am on my own.