Mother to four (4) beautiful children, Yeko Joy has continued to survive every storm she has had to bear; though they’ve not left her unscarred. Having been forced into child marriage as early as 12 years old, she conceived two children with her husband but was later4 disowned by her in-laws because she did not want to undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
“Though his family chased me away, my husband would still come over and from those encounters I conceived two more children,” recalls Joy during the project mentee’s monitoring visit. “He however stopped when I started demanding for help with the children. I haven’t been in contact with him for over a year now.”
She relocated to Tulolwo village, Kwasiir sub county in Kween district when her marriage failed. Joy dropped out of school and with no sustainable source of income, she started doing casual labor like weeding, planting and uprooting irish potatoes on farms to provide for her children.
Joy is now among the mentees under the “Catalysing a New Generation of Activists to Challenge FGM, Child and Forced Marriage (CEFM)” project funded by WomanKind. One of the project objectives is to empower girls and young women to develop their own campaigns and initiatives to challenge the harmful cultural practices of FGM and CEFM. Through these campaigns, vulnerable girls were selected to receive psycho-social support through financial aid. She received start-up capital for a retail shop to help her increase her revenue, be self-reliant and provide for her children.
Since joining the mentorship program, she attests her life is more purposeful and taken a positive turn. It has been step in working towards her dreams.
“Before I was introduced to NAWOU, I thought my life was never going to change. But now I have more confidence in myself, I’m glad I did not give into the demands of my in-laws. I have made new friends and finally feel like I belong,” beamed Joy. “I have been able to learn more about FGM, its dangers and as mentees, the mentors guide and focus their collective organising to challenge FGM and CEFM through creative ways like drama which I enjoy participating in.”
As her business continues to grow, Joy Yeko looks forward to a future where her children are going to school and her being among the best tailors in Kween district.