My Friend Miriam: Intern Post by Aliska Kilgore
The presence of duality in Kenya never ceases to surprise me.
Along with sharp thorny cacti, comes beautiful bright pink flowers. The strong, graceful lion, can only survive by taking an innocent life for nourishment. And hidden within lies big, bright brilliant white smiles of amazing children. Kenya is filled with blatant dualities. From the terrain to the people, with every downside comes the possibility of an upside.
Miriam is a 17 year-old girl in high school. The high school she attends is miles away from her family home. But her desire for an education is so strong that she chooses to leave her family and rent an apartment close to school. I use the word “apartment” very loosely. This room is about 8 feet by 8 feet with one tiny window. The only furniture is a small desk and chair. She sleeps on a straw mat under a mosquito net spotted with holes. Her roommate has had to leave because her family could no longer pay her school fees.
Miriam talked about collecting water every night and how she worries about her safety. She reveals drunk men pounding on her door at night requesting sex as she sits in her dark room, scared, all alone. Out of necessity, it’s not uncommon for female students to sell sexual favors to acquire the money to pay desperately-needed rent and school fees. However, Miriam says she would leave school before doing this. She tries to make education her first priority. But it’s hard when the only light she has to study by is the size of a tuna can. It’s hard to get all A’s when your basic needs are far from being met. She is late on her school fees, she worries if she will have food to fill her empty stomach every night; yet, she smiles. Miriam has hope. Within the walls of her poverty-stricken life she has goals and aspirations. Still, as we ask with amazement about the details of her life, she gets more somber. We tell her she is a brave girl, an amazing girl, to make such sacrifices to get an education. Her eyes fill with tears.