Here are the stories of some of our girls. Their names have been changed to protect their identity. Through reading their stories, we hope you will better understand the challenges these girls face.
“Atieno” joined the club when she was 12 years old and still very small, but she never feared competing against bigger and stronger girls. God opened up doors for her when she was in a desperate situation. Her father passed away in 2001 and then in 2006 Atieno came home from church to find her mother lying dead in her room. After that, her siblings were all scattered to different relatives throughout East Africa. At the beginning of 2010 Atieno boldly approached one of our football club officials and requested for help because she was failing in school. But it wasn’t only her, every student in her class was failing at this local public school because the teachers didn’t care. With the approval of her elderly grandparents, the club relocated her to stay with the club chairman and paid for her to attend a local private school where she has worked hard and showed improvement every term. She successfully completed her National Exam for Primary School in November 2011 and the club is helping support her through secondary school. Her bright smile and friendly personality, along with her strong Christian Character, have been a blessing to her school, her new home and the club.
“Awino” gave birth when she was only 14 years old. The club helped her through the process of forgiveness and releasing any shame she felt from her experience. She has seen and felt God’s love through a difficult time in her life. With the support of her mother, she was determined to return to school and finish her education so that she could have a better future and be able to support her mother who has struggled since the death of her husband in 1998. After his death, Awino’s mother was “inherited” by another local man who has several other wives and doesn’t take care of his family very well. Awino’s former school didn’t allow her to return after giving birth which forced her to find another school on a different island from the one her mother lives on. Her living situation there was terrible. Sometimes she had to sleep outside at night and she was harassed constantly by local fisherman wanting to take advantage of her. She endured several bouts of sickness, but through her determination she took her National Primary School Exam in November, 2011 and joined secondary school in 2012. Awino loves playing and watching football. She is often accused of being a boy because of her aggressive playing style and good skills. That aggressive has helped her to overcome many obstacles in life and have a hope for a better future.
“Akinyi” was born in 1997. Two years later her mother died and shortly thereafter her father passed away. Akinyi and two of her brothers moved in with their aunt who already had five children of her own. When Akinyi joined the club in 2010 she was the smallest and the youngest, but quickly asserted herself as one of the best with her nifty ball-work and deft passing. She is called the “silent assassin” because she is so quiet and unassuming that you hardly know she is around until she scores a goal on you. In school she is equally quiet and successful. She scores high marks, especially in English and Math. Many people in this area believe that you can’t be successful in academics and athletics at the same time, but Akinyi is proving them all wrong.
“Akoth” is a little ball of fire on the field and off. She runs up and down the field forever, yet never seems to get tired. In the classroom she has the same personality, trying to answer every question and she never stops moving in her chair. She is a blessing at home to her widowed mother who earns a living buying and selling fish or vegetables. In 2010 Akoth was the 12th best out of over 1500 girls in the district who took their National Primary School Exams. Because of her success on the field and in the classroom, she received a chance at the best girls’ secondary boarding school in all of Western Kenya. Akoth also has that same passion in her relationship with Christ. She is always the first one on the team to volunteer to pray and always has a praise song she is ready to lead the team in singing.
“Akeyo” has always had challenges in school. She had sat her National Exams for Primary School in 2008 and failed. Her widowed mother sent her to Mbita to repeat class 7 and 8 so that she could try again. In 2010 she failed once again. She most likely has a learning disability, but many times those don’t get assessed in the rural public schools. We were happy that she was at least able to finish primary school because most girls in this area don’t even make it that far, but we didn’t know what to do next. She didn’t have good enough marks to get into most high schools and the club didn’t have money to sponsor her either. After much prayer, God opened up a door through another club we had played a few weeks earlier who offered to take Akeyo and two more girls of ours. They not only allowed them to join their club, but they found a school for them and are paying all of their fees to continue their education. Akeyo has a warm and funny personality; always trying to be the life of the party. She is talented on the field, especially as a defender.
“Mourine” is an excellent student, finishing primary school with one of the top five scores in the district on her National Exam. When she comes home from secondary school, she lives with her widowed mother, who is a sweet lady with a gentle spirit, that has also been caring for another orphan. Though her health is not so good, she is taking daily medicine that keeps her strong. Mourine’s father died in 1999, when she was three years old. Her mother makes a small living by selling water drawn by her donkey cart. She also has four rooms which she rents out. This helps in supporting the family. They live in a tiny, two room house on the side of a hill. The house is made out of mud walls with iron sheets for the roof. They have no electricity. They get water from a nearby tap which they use for cooking, drinking and washing. Mourine is aggressive and hard-working and plays with no fear at all. She has really improved over the past two years as she continues to grow.
“Linda” was born in 2001 and she came to Mbita in 2010 when her uncle decided to take her in. Linda’s family lives in Ndhiwa, about 1 ½ hours from Mbita. Her father was a primary school teacher until he developed a mental problem and wasn’t able to continue. The uncles each agreed to take in one of his children, since he was not in a position to take care of them anymore because of his medical condition. Her guardian owns a local restaurant and does some other business in town also. He has stayed in Mbita since 1987 and is well known in the community. Linda is still very small, but has very good skills and plays with no fear, no matter how big the competition is. She can play in the midfield or as a striker, though she is still trying to improve her left foot. She joined the club in May, 2011.
“Josphine” was born in 1993. She attended primary school on a remote island, but the conditions on the island were not very good. It is mainly used for fishermen who come and stay for a short time and then move on to another place. Because of that, immorality is rampant. Josphine’s older sister got pregnant and dropped out of school in 7th grade. Her older brother became addicted to drugs and alcohol and also dropped out of school before he finished 8th grade. Her father was elderly and sickly during her younger years, and he eventually passed away a few years ago. Josphine is an average student who usually scores around the pass mark on her exams. Her performance in school has been very inconsistent over the last three years, greatly influenced by some of her decisions she makes outside of school. When she first started playing with us she was a small girl that ran all over the field chasing the ball. She has now matured considerably as a person and also as a player. She has developed into a very aggressive striker or wing who uses her speed and dribbling skills to push the ball up the field with a lot of pace and take strong shots at the goal or cross the ball to her teammates.
“Edwina” is currently in secondary school. She is a slightly above average student who does best in Math. When she is not away at boarding school, she lives with her grandmother who is a widow. The grandmother works with for the government. Edwina’s mother died after a long illness and left her at the age of two. Edwina’s mother had never married, so the child was left in the care of the grandmother. Edwina is quiet at times and outgoing at other times, but very polite and she loves school very much. Her grand mother’s house is a very big house but has no electricity or running water. They use lake water for washing and treat it for drinking.
“Adhiambo” has a hearing problem and after struggling in public schools all of her life, her family finally moved her to a special school for the hearing impaired. Her home is on an sland. Ahiambo’s hearing impairment makes it difficult for her to communicate with others at times. Despite her handicap she still does average work in school though her language scores are very low which made her to repeat several classes when she was in public schools. She stays with her father, mother and three siblings on the island when she is not in boarding school. She has an older sister and two smaller brothers. Her father is a retired school teacher who was a polygamist with several wives and many children. Adhiambo enjoys singing, especially in their church where the family attends. In football she is an excellent striker that has a knack for putting the ball in the goal. She is not the fastest player, but she knows how to control the ball and dribble through defenders to get strong shots on the goal with either leg. Passing is also a strength of hers as she knows the right time and place to deliver the ball to her teammates. Always calm and composed, she really enjoys playing soccer and often you will see her smiling and laughing in the middle of the match when the ball comes to her.
“Cathy” is an average student that struggles in the languages especially. Since joining the club, her performance has improved much. Her football skills and the exposure the club has offered gave her an opportunity to join another club that is sponsoring her in secondary school. When she is not in school, she stays with her mom and one of her younger sisters. Her father passed away in 2000, leaving behind three wives and over twenty children. Cathy is the second youngest of the six children her mother had. Her older brothers and sisters live in other cities throughout Kenya. Her mother does not have any job, but has a small garden where she grows millet, maize and some other things to feed her children and sometimes she is able to sell some of her crop to make some money. Cathy is also a good runner as well as football player. She is very active on the field and has a good skill level. She loves dribbling and showcasing her good ball-work.
“Mercy” was born in 1995. Her widowed mother works in a small restaurant at a fishing beach near their home beach and has a big shamba where she grows crops to feed her family and sells some of it. Besides Mercy and her siblings she also has two orphans she supports in secondary school. Mercy is an average student. Her foundation in school is weak, but she is really trying to catch up. Her principal praised her for always helping to lead chapel each week in the school. She has a powerful voice and loves to lead songs when she is in a group. Her ability on the football field is similar to in the classroom. Her foundation of skills is pretty weak, but she is really working hard to improve. She has good speed and the mentality to keep on fighting so when her skills develop she will be a very strong defender.
“Caro” was born in 1993. Her father died one year later in 1994, leaving behind two widows (he was a polygamist) who have not remarried. In Caro’s mother’s home there are 2 boys and 4 girls. None of the girls have finished 8th grade, and only one of the boys has gone on to secondary. Before joining the club Caro had made some bad decisions that greatly affected her life. She gave birth around September 2008 when she was 15 years old. Her mother is taking care of the child as Caro tries to continue her education. With the help of the club, she received an opportunity to join secondary school and her fees are totally paid by a sponsor. She is an average student in Math, Science and Social studies, but struggles with English and Kiswahili. Since joining the club her academic performance has improved. Caro is a quiet girl who is very serious in her demeanor. She is a good athlete and uses her speed and good ball-control to influence a football match. She is very unselfish as a player and so everyone loves to have her on their team.
“Verah” was born in 1995. She is a low performing student who has had a difficult life. Since her parents passed away she has been living with her older brother, his wife and their small baby. He is a local fisherman, but is still young and doesn’t take very good care of Verah. She is given a lot of work to do at home and sometimes is forced to miss school to take care of her brother’s baby or to do other chores. She also lives with another younger brother. She is absent from school a lot because of her problems in the home. Her foundation in school is not very good which makes it difficult to succeed. When she first came to the club, she knew very little English so she rarely talked and was usually wearing a scowl on her face. In the past few years, she has really improved in English and is now a very talkative and outgoing leader. Verah is a slenderly built girl who is fast and a strong kicker. She loves playing and will juggle the ball anytime she is free.
“Evaline’s” birth certificate says she was born in 1999, but we suspect she is a few years older than that and just started school late because no one in her family realized the importance of education. Her father passed away from Tuberculosis in 1999. Her aunt saw that she was not doing anything in her home, so she brought her to Mbita to stay with her and go to school. The guardian is a policeman who is now working in Nairobi, but the wife is selling vegetables. Evaline is quiet and shy, but does average work in school. Her best subject is Math.
“Valary” is short and stocky in stature and very quiet in nature. Her performance in school is very low, especially in the languages. That could possibly be attributed to a difficult home situation. Her father died when she was young and her mother died a couple of years ago. Valary was staying with another wife of her father who was a polygamist. That mother just recently passed away in 2009. Now she is under the care of her elderly grandmother. The only one in their family who earns an income is her uncle who is a teacher. Valary is one of the smaller ones in our football club, but she plays strong and can play multiple positions including mid-field, striking and defense. She has good skills and has shown much improvement over the past year.
“Cynthia” was born in 1994. Her performance in school is below average, especially in Kiswahili and Social Studies. She does well in English though. Cynthia’s father is a polygamist with five wives and numerous children and grandchildren. His first two wives have passed away, leaving Cynthia’s mother as the oldest of the three remaining wives. There were nine children in Cynthia’s immediate family, though two of them have died. None of her older sisters were able to finish primary school before getting married at young ages. The father has a farm down by the lake where he grows maize and vegetables to try and provide for his big family. Cynthia is a fun-loving girl who plays with that kind of spirit on the football field. Her skills are very low, but she makes up for it with hard-work and aggressiveness. She is one of the best at heading the ball, jumping up high to clear balls away for our end of the field. If the rest of her fundamentals can catch up with her speed and strength then she will become a very dangerous defender.
“Jane” is currently in high school. She is a very well-behaved and responsible girl in the house, at school and everywhere she goes. She has a great attitude and a strong Christian character, but she has always been a little weak in school. The father died when his children were still young. Jane’s widowed mother makes a minimal income buying fish from the fisherman and selling it in the market. Jane has three sisters who live with their mother in a tiny, two room house on the side of a hill. The house overlooks Lake Victoria and is made out of mud walls with an iron sheet for a roof. There is no electricity or plumbing, but they have a latrine. They use firewood for cooking. On the football field Jane is a very determined girl who is difficult for opponents to get past. She fights hard in whichever defensive position she is placed. She has also worked hard to develop her left foot to almost be as strong as her right foot.
“Mary’s” father died in 2009 after complications he had during a drinking binge. He was the eldest of five brothers in his family, four of them have passed away now. The youngest one is the only one remaining; he recently finished teacher training college in 2010 and is teaching at Mary’s school. Mary is the third born in her family. Her oldest brother just finished secondary school and is also a very good football player. Her grandmother is also still alive, though she is very thin and weak. Mary’s mother earns some small money by making charcoal and selling. Mary is quiet and shy, but aggressive on the football field as a defender. She is still learning the game, but shows a lot of potential.
“Joyce” joined the club this past year. We are not sure about her exact age but is probably around 18 years old. Her father died back in 1996 and the family moved in with the family of her father’s brother. The mother later died in 2005. Joyce took her national exams in 8th grade in the year 2008 but didn’t do very well. She didn’t pass the exam and the family had no money to send her to secondary school so she didn’t go to school for a couple of years. During that time, she engaged in many negative activities that she now regrets. Both of her sisters got married. One became the third wife and the other a fourth wife of polygamist men. In 2011 the guardian decided that she should go back to 7th grade so that she can learn the things she missed and try the national exam again in 2012. On the field she is a very capable defender that can use both legs. She is aggressive and can show a mean streak at times. Joyce is very determined to succeed in life with this second chance she has been given
“Rhonda” stays with her 77 year old grandmother who had 11 children of her own, six of which are still alive. Rhonda’s parents had 4 children, but the two younger ones died. Her mother also passed away in 2008 and her father died the following year. The family was living in another town and Rhonda was going to a private school because the father had a good job and was making a lot of money. In fact, her father was the only breadwinner in the entire family so all of his siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins etc. were relying on him. So it was a catastrophe when he passed away. Rhonda’s elder sister was in secondary school but had to drop because of a lack of school fees, and she eventually became pregnant. Because of a good foundation in a private school, Rhonda is a good student. She scores really high in languages and was able to join secondary school recently. As a player, Rhonda has good ball-control and speed. As a striker her only weakness is not getting enough power in her shots, though she has recently shown some improvement in that area.
“Anna” was still very young when her mother left her father after a disagreement and the mother hasn’t been involved in her life at all until recently when Anna was trying to acquire a birth certificate and had to contact her to get a copy of her national ID. Anna’s father remarried when Anna was around 8 years old and has had four children with his new wife. Anna is the oldest in the family and is required to do a lot of work around the house. The father loves her very much, but her relationship with her step-mother is not as good. The father works at a fish banda as the chairman of the fish traders union and also serves as chairman of her school committee. Anna is a fast sprinter in the 200 meter race, and in football she is a strong defender with good skills. She joined the club in August 2011.
“Helen’s” father died in 2005. Her mother lost her sight in 1995 when she was digging in the garden and dirt got into her eyes. The mother used to be a good athlete when she was younger. Helen is the second oldest in a family of five children. Her older sister dropped out of school in class seven when she got pregnant and has never returned. Helen has always struggled in school, probably because of the many chores she is required to do at home. She takes much time every day going to the lake to fetch water and wash, gather firewood and purchase food for meals. Her younger sister also helps the mother with those things. Their home is on the side of a hill. They live in a small, semi-permanent house. Anna is a happy, outgoing girl. On the field her skills have greatly improved over the past year and are starting to catch up with her great athleticism. She is developing into a very dangerous striker.