How I overcame parental neglect and negativity

Parental neglect and the use of negative labels can alter the destiny of affected children. This is the ordeal that Cherono, currently in her 40s, went through as a young child. She narrates her story below, with aim of dissuading parents and guardians from taking such disruptive approaches that adversely affect the well-being of children.

After completing my primary school studies many years ago, I was excited to continue my education and attain my career goals.

But due to the poverty in our home, my parents were unable to raise the school fees. That is when my life took a turn for the worst.

To make ends meet and earn a living for myself, my parents advised that I take up a job as a domestic house worker. All went well until I became pregnant.

When I went back home, my parents were hostile and they labelled me a prostitute as I was expecting a child out of wedlock.

That is the first time I was introduced to the word 'prostitute' and I decided to find out what it meant. The definition shocked me and it remained etched in my mind.

My dad was an alcoholic. Each time he came home drunk he would be violent and abusive towards me. He eventually chased me away.

With nowhere to go, and a child on the way, I was left hopeless and desperate. I felt worthless as a person and believed that something was wrong with me, since my own family had rejected me.

The search for a better life brought me to Salgaa, where I was introduced to commercial sex work. I went along with the idea. After all, my parents had previously referred to me as a prostitute.

For some reason, I felt as if that was my destiny since my parents who were my role models, had spoken the words. My self-confidence had been crashed and I didn't think I had anything better to offer the world.

But getting into the dark world of commercial sex work did not end my suffering. It only made things worse. I started drinking to drown my sorrows and it was not long before I became an alcoholic. I also began taking drugs. My health deteriorated and I became really sick.

On the brink of death, when I thought it was all over, I got help from well-wishers who turned my life around and gave me the hope to live.

With the financial support I got from them, I began farming. I also roast maize and sell to people in town. This option is much better and I am happy with the choice I have made.

My prayer is for all children to get the opportunity to have a bright future. Parents should love their children and make them feel appreciated. This gives them hope for a better tomorrow.

Through my experience, I have learnt that words have power. When you label children different things, you may unknowingly be deciding their destiny in life.

Parents or guardians should speak positive things over their children's lives and refrain from making them feel like losers or failures in life, when they make mistakes.

Cherono’s story is a cry for parents to nurture children in ways that bring out the best in them, without jeopardising their future. Click HERE to donate and help us build brighter futures for children in Salgaa through training on effective parenting strategies.