Growing up I wanted to make a difference and be a leader. In primary school I always wanted to know if others had lunch and if not I would share mine with them. During, high school I was elected the president of SRC (School representative council) which was a very active role that made me motivated me to do what was right in every situation.
I am raised by parents who spoke about God as the centre of everything, which developed in me a deep love for God and hunger to understand him. All that shaped my life and beliefs. I believed that God is love and he will protect me at all the times
My belief was shaken when I became a victim in 2002. I had been asked by my manager to work extended hours for a reservation in the restaurant. At the end of my shift I travelled back home using a train. I got off the train and while walking somebody touched my shoulder and I got excited that somebody will walk with me.
Little did I know that was the beginning of my nightmare. Suddenly my eyes were closed with a cloth and tape. I fell as I was trying to fight back but they dragged me to a car and drove off. We reached a place where I was thrown down on the floor and left there confused and scared.
All I could hear were whispers. At that point I started to wrestle with God. I began to ask him questions:
- Is this the reflection of your love for me?
- Where is your protection?
- Why have you allowed this to happen to me when I had just made a choice to serve you more and wait for the right man in my life for marriage?
In the midst of my wrestling with God, I remembered a scripture from the Bible from Romans 8:28. It says "And we all know that in all things God works for good in all those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose". The only thing I could do after being reminded of the verse was to pray for God to spare my life.
The nightmare continued as I was undressed, brutally beaten and raped. I remember when I was beaten I cried until I felt so numb that I couldn't cry any more.
When all was over the next morning, I was driven back to where they found me and left there helpless. Through this experience:
- I lost my confidence as a women.
- I lost faith in God.
- I lost my job as an assistant manager.
- I spent three months in hospital to heal from the beating, and also from the effect of my contact lenses having broken in my eyes as a result of the blindfold.
- I became depressed and isolated myself.
That was until I met IofC through Creators of Peace Circles in 2007, during which we explored the power of forgiveness. I shared my story with people I didn't know. For the first time I felt like a baggage I'd been carrying was removed from my shoulders. From that day I realised I needed to forgive myself and the perpetrators, not to condone what is wrong but doing it to free myself from the prison I was in. That gave me a fresh breath to start over again and repair my life.
Months later, with the support of my family and friends, I realised I had so much to give to the world. In 2009 I started feeling the conviction to be the voice for other women who might have been through the same experience as mine or any experience that needed healing. I felt God needed to prepare me for that calling so that I can be able to understand and connect with the other without judgements or reservations.
With this experience, God, through Creators of Peace, gave me an opportunity in leadership roles such as facilitator, trainer, mentor and International coordinator, and programs manager for IofC South Africa. The women we have reached are mostly challenged by rape, domestic violence, low self-esteem and unforgiveness. The gift of my experience, within the Creators of Peace Circle help women to have a change of heart and be inspired to start their own healing journey.
I am glad to say I no longer see myself as a victim but a victor. Today I know that I am beautiful despite my experience, because my experience does not define who I am but my calling does. True leadership comes when we are able to still make positive choices in the midst of our pain. Sometimes when we go through pain we ask the question "why me?" The truth is, if not me then who. No one deserves pain but remaining in pain robs us of the potential we can unleash.