Madiina Nabalamba (not real name) has been a domestic worker since she was 9 years old. At a tender age of 9, Nabalamba toiled for nothing. She did not go to school as promised , nor was she paid a wage for her services. Instead all she got were excuses and promises. Meanwhile, her employer’s kids never dropped out of school.
After the two years, Nabalamba was fed up with the lies and wanted to move on. She thought of looking for a benefactor to help put her back to school, but adolescence had quickly transformed her into a grown woman. Her bust was threatening to tear her childish clothes and her bosom had expanded somewhat. She felt that by now she had grown too old to sit with kids in primary four, the class she was attending before her father died.
A neighbors’ house girl who was slightly older than her, offered some counsel. She promised to find her another place to do the same chores only that this time, she would receive a monthly salary of Ushs 30,000. Nabalamba felt flattered. She had never been paid any money and therefore she merrily took the job immediately.
At her new job, she found a matronly woman who had three sons ranging between the ages of 16 and 20 years. The moment she got to the house, the boys started scrambling for her attention. She informed her employer but the lady did not take the matter seriously. Instead of confronting her boys, she advised Nabalamba to just ignore their advances.
One day, while her employer was away, one of the sons allegedly raped her. She reported the matter to the mother of the boy who, again, did not take things seriously. A few months later she discovered she was pregnant but the mother of the boy did not want to listen to her. She instead said Nabalamba was careless.
Denying that her son had made her pregnant, the mother claimed she had seen the girl with many men in the village and therefore believed the pregnancy was for one of those men, not her son. The boy also denied ever having sexual intercourse with Nabalamba. She was eventually thrown out of the home and was paid money for only three months yet she had worked for 2 years.
Fast forward, after delivering her baby, two years later, Nabalamba met the woman she calls her savior. She accepted to take her as a maid along with her baby and agreed to pay her Ushs 40,000 per month which she has been getting on time for the past 11 months. She agrees that the work is much but she is happy that her employer gives her many concessions and does not discriminate against her like usually happens in her position.
“Aunt treats me like her own child and even buys things for my son therefore I do not have complaints,” Nabalamba says.
When asked about whether she would love to go back to school she says she does not think it is possible since she is now a mother. When an alternative job is suggested, she is hesitant, because she feels she is where she belongs.
People like Nabalamba, whose opportunities were destroyed when they were still young, are many. And they are mainly girls and women.
And yet, if offered an opportunity to go back to school, they would be able to escape the servitude and unwanted children that tie them down and suffocate their opportunities in life.