* text by Fernanda Galeoti
My name is Linda and I'm from Nairobi.
I am very happy and proud to be part of Hai Africa. I am filled with joy, because Hai is really a great help to me and my children.
Africa is a very beautiful continent but unfortunately many of the men here are abusive at times. I had my children with a man who abandoned me and I struggled a lot to take care of them after that. I had to work with everything to feed them. But a lot changed when I met this beautiful girl named Mariana Fischer, the founder of Hai Africa. She noticed my situation and came to my rescue, helping to take my children to school.
Telling a little of my story, I was raised by a single mother and she died when I was 4 years old. After that, I moved in with her sister, my aunt. At first, she took us to school and treated us well. But one day she suddenly changed and started to treat her daughters better than me and my sisters. If one of her daughters did something bad, she wouldn't complain, but if we did something bad, it would have heavy consequences. Then he took everything my mother left us and threw us out of the house. I once had to sleep on the floor in an abandoned building for three days.
Life was hard and I had nowhere to go. Things were even worse because I had to live without my mother. In Kenya you cannot survive without money. If you go to school without paying the fees, they send you home.
The situation was too sad. I had nowhere to sleep, nor did I work at the time, so I had no option but to get married when I was 18. But at least I managed to finish high school in this period.
Today, I am a single mother. My husband left me with the children and married another woman. I was 25 when he left. He beat me and mistreated me a lot. So now I decided to be alone.
I've been working at Project Três, Hai's partner NGO. This job really helps me pay rent and buy groceries. I love braiding bracelets and this is the art I do for the project. Still, I keep another part-time job.
Before, I washed clothes for us to survive. If it weren't for Hai Africa, my children would have no education at all. My journey with Hai has been a good one and I am very happy to be here, where education is of high quality, so I am very grateful to everyone.
Today I have my job, my children study and eat very well.
Now, I can smile again.