It is rare to come across stories like this, but meet Beatrice Akech, the girl who beat all odds when she escaped forced marriage, suffered child-labour, beat poverty and achieved her life dream; what a champion!.
Beatrice is one of the many children born to Betty, a single parent who worked so hard but could not raise enough resources to give her children the good life they deserve. As a result, she gave away her children to different people who approached her with promises to support her by educating them (most of them relatives or friends of relatives). Beatrice was taken at seven (7) years old with promises of good education and a great life in the city, Kampala (Uganda). She left for the city with her new guardian; a relative for a brighter future as she looks forward to starting school.
On arrival in the city, there was no education for Beatrice but an unpaid baby-sitting job and later, family chores. Beatrice had no time for school with her daily tasks as follows; waking up early morning to get the other kids ready for school, cleaning the house, making breakfast for everybody, washing clothes, cooking lunch, making evening tea, making and serving dinner, making sure the kids had their bath before bed and then locking up before going to bed. This was her life and daily tasks for thirteen (13) years with promises to start school or life-skill training going unfulfilled every year. The day finally came; Beatrice`s family wanted her sent back to the village since she was too big to start primary school and her guardian could not sponsor her for any life-skill training. Her guardian decided to send Beatrice back to her family in the village with just enough money to pay for her bus fares to the village.
Photo 1: Beatrice Akech
When Beatrice arrived home to her family, she found out that her family had arranged for her to be given away in marriage to a man she has never met. She instantly made a decision that; that was not going to happen and she rushed in tears to talk to Mercy Akongo of This Life Foundation; to help her.
“Can you imagine, my mother gave me away at just seven (7) years old for an education that never came, I became a house girl and worked like a donkey in someone else`s home taking care of all family chores, baby-sat children and watched them grow, returned to my family after thirteen (13) wasted years of my life only to find I am already sold to some idiot in marriage? Help me please and take me back with you. My family wants to give me away to some man and I am not going to let this happen. This is not the end of my life, I have a future and I am going to do what it takes to change my life and to have a future I deserve, please help me” ~ Beatrice Akech
“I did not know what to do; I was a student by then at the university and had no idea how i was going to help this girl. I knew one thing for sure, I did not want to leave her in the village to be forced into marriage to a stranger and I believed it when she said she had a future and that her life was not going to end this way. So, I brought her back with me to the city, just three days after she was returned to the village from the city” ~ Mercy Akongo
Picture 2: Mercy Akongo
Mercy then got Beatrice a job at Home-Care Supermarket, which belong to a friend of hers and also got her accommodation with her best friend. Beatrice did not take her job lightly, she worked very hard and her employer who became very happy with her work decided to give her some few hours off work to study since that was her heart`s desire. Beatrice worked all day and attended her classes in the evening until she knew how to read and write. After learning about numbers and some theories on business management, Beatrice was promoted to manage Home-Care Supermarket as a branch manager, unbelievable.
Nine (9) years after Beatrice escaped forced marriage and worked for Home-Care Super market, she called Mercy Akongo to deliver the good news; she has started up her own business and now owns a Super Market in Kampala, the Capital city of Uganda. She said she has been planning on how to deliver the message to Mercy and to thank her for saving her life and giving her life.
“I would like to tell you something which I know will make you very happy. I am no longer working for Home Care Supermarket, I have started my own business and now owns a Super market; it is all because of you. I want to say thank you very much from the bottom of my heart, I do not even know how to express it. I wonder what my life would be like if you did not take me, got me a job and a place to stay and always been there for me. I cannot really thank you enough but God will pay you and I pray for you every day” ~Beatrice Akech
“Hearing this great news humbled me and listening to Beatrice on the other side of the phone tells her successful journey melted my heart, and left me teary. She also told me she met a man she loves and who love her very much. They were engaged and getting married in May and she wanted me to be the first to know. Honestly; I could not hold back tears of joy, I felt overwhelmed and I am very proud of her. When Beatrice came to me asking for help, it was her firm statements that got me. She told me that she was going to do all it takes to change her life, and she made a firm statement that she had a future, I believed her and I admired her. She inspired and challenged me to believe in possibilities and in my abilities to help her achieve her dreams, she believed in me” ~Mercy Akongo.
There are many vulnerable children and young people out there just like Beatrice who believes in themselves and need someone else to believe in them too. This Life Foundation is ready to work with every stakeholder and well-wishers to change someone`s story just like Beatrice`s by helping them achieve their dreams.
“It is a good feeling you get, I really can`t express it. I never thought about it and it was not my plan to support or brings this girl to the city, it took a moment for me to make that decision and it was based on the way she believed in herself and the determination in her eyes and voice, I could not resist it. Seeing the results of such decisions is the greatest feeling ever and I argue people out there to try it, you actually get the reward, and it is priceless” ~Mercy Akongo
Please watch out for Beatrice`s full success story coming up in the near future which is being captured currently, what a champion!
This Life Foundation