As a young wife with two children Peacock never imagined a life without her husband. When she got pregnant at 15 years of age. He took responsibility. “I moved in with him and he became my husband. Five years later we welcomed our second baby, a baby girl,” recalls Peacock. They were doing well and everything was going according to plan.
Tragedy struck in 2017 when Peacock’s husband collapsed while on his way to work and later died in hospital. With two children to raise and no income or education to fall back on, she felt hopeless. “I thought that I could not make it anymore. I turned to alcohol and hard drugs. I thought this was a solution for my situation,” remembers Peacock. Mentally, she could not see a way out and was overcome by a sense of abandonment. Peacock continues, “The death of my husband paralyzed me, I could not do anything else except get intoxicated.”
One day while in a drunken stupor an LVCT Health counsellor, Christabel, spotted Peacock struggling to walk. “I was rude and pushed her away but she took her time and won my trust, she even helped me get to my house where I had left my children,” recalls Peacock.
Christabel began visiting Peacock at home, often bringing her food and household supplies. The concern Christabel showed Peacock slowly turned her pessimistic view of the future into hope. After a two weeks of persistent care and counselling Peacock enrolled in the PEPFAR funded DREAMS program-a HIV prevention project that addresses the circumstances that exposes young women to HIV infection.
As a DREAMS beneficiary she began taking mentorship classes. “I joined the classes here where we were taught on sexual health, including HIV prevention and the dangers of drug abuse. At that time, I had a few men who helped me financially,” Peacock confesses. The classes at LVCT Health safe space opened her eyes to see the eminent dangers of her lifestyle. Soon enough Peacock changed her behaviour and began seeking out opportunities to better her life. The alcohol and drug intake gradually came to a halt and she began to dream of having her own salon.
Recognizing her will to make something of herself LVCT Health granted Peacock a 10 month scholarship at Kenya’s leading hairdressing school. “While there I was able to braid Kenya’s former Prime Minister’s wife, Ida Odinga’s hair. She had come to support a school event and I was lucky enough to be chosen as her hairdresser,” explains Peacock.
The course exposed Peacock to high end clientele many of whom she still tends to now. She is currently saving up to have her own salon, so far she has been able to buy equipment such as a dryer, blow dryer and chair. She is completely self-dependent and is able to comfortably feed, house, clothe and school her two children. A fete she thought impossible. The DREAMS programme has been able to nurture a determined, resilient, AIDS-free, mentored and safe young woman.
As a way of appreciating the turnaround DREAMS accorded her, Peacock lends some of her time to mentor other young women in her community, helping them to be believe in their ability to stand on their own two feet to accomplish their dreams.
By Grace Akatch