I felt called to give to the SHE fund when I read about the challenges of FGM and childhood marriages. I emailed Kim and told her I would like to support a girl through college.
Kim said, “I have just the girl for you, her name is Jennifer.” We were introduced via email and Jennifer immediately asked me if I am on WhatsApp? This infrequently used app was soon to become our “love line”. It brought me back to memories of spending hours on the phone as a teen with my girl friends. Jennifer would send me all kinds of messages with lots of hearts and smiley faces and say things like “I love you so much” and “I really miss you…MOM.” We talked about all matter of things from her rescue from early marriage, her faith in God, her school, her boyfriends and her life.
I could feel Jennifer’s heart and yet there was something in me that didn’t fully believe her. Could she really love me and miss me? When her own mother died in May, it was the impetus that pushed me to go to Kenya. I felt I wanted to go see this girl and understand this Jennifer.
My husband & I have raised four daughters and one son. I stayed at home with all of them as they grew up. I know what it feels like to be deeply connected as a mom to a child. Even so, when I met Jennifer in person, I was overwhelmed with my own feelings of missing her and loving her. She brought me back to my own young self with her rants about pimples and her longing for a larger butt. What? You want a bigger butt? You know, in the US we are all trying to lose weight in our butts! She was so young yet I could see how she got around in Nairobi and she was streetwise.
When we visited the safe house, where she spent about eight years growing up, she noticed a picture on the bulletin board. Jennifer wanted to take it off and give it to me. It was a picture of her at the age of 10, dressed in her wedding garments sitting in a small van being rescued from a forced marriage.
Now she is studying business at the University of Nairobi, living very simply and doing quite well. I feel that the S.H.E. support of Jennifer is the real deal and my hope is to help launch her as an educated and stable woman who can enter the workplace with all her heart.
~ Claire Brossmann