Women’s Day

Meet Julieta. One of the strongest women I will ever meet. She’s 7 years old.

From before the sun rises to after the sunsets, Julieta makes countless amounts of trips to the well 50 meters from her house in 1 day. She carts water for drinking, cooking, dish washing, and bathing.

Now I’ll put you in her shoes.

It’s night time.
Finished with today’s chores, it’s time to bathe before bed. With your green bucket in hand and using only the dim moonlight, you make your way to the well. The only things stopping you from a good nights rest are the 50 meters to the well and the 50 meters back home.  As you approach the well you notice that there is no one there, which means no waiting time. It’s your lucky day.

You set your green bucket down and begin pumping. You are deafened by the screeching of the pump and blinded by the darkness of the moon being covered by the abandoned building to your left. Screech, screech, screech… almost done filling your bucket. Now you could feel something. You feel a large hand covering your mouth. You feel the tight grip the large arm picking you up. You scream, no sound. The abandoned building to your left… now you are being carried inside. Over powered, in shock, scared; you have no control of what the man twice your size is doing.

What seemed like an eternity is now over. Before he leaves he tells you that if you ever tell a soul he will hurt not only you but your family also. Numb. Scared. In pain. You pick up your green bucket and walk the longest 50 meters of your life back home.

Julieta, 7 years old, was raped by a 17-year-old male. She went two full days without saying a word. Bed ridden and in pain, her caretakers, her aunt and uncle, knew this wasn’t your typical case of malaria. Not until her aunt asked her what really occurred was when Julieta finally broke down. Julieta finally explained and showed her aunt why she’s been unable to walk for the past couple of days and was immediately taken to the hospital for care.

Julieta is one of my kids. She’s one of my few kids who are always at my house cooking, playing or simply just sitting in silence with me. Any time I would come home she’d be right there waiting for me to hang out with her. This incident occurred on a weekend I had been traveling. When I arrived from my travels my first stop is always to Julietas house. When she saw me she approached with the look of sadness and defeat. We always give each other hugs but this hug was different. I picked her up; she lay her head against my neck, wrapped her hands around me with an unbelievable force and didn’t let go. I could feel her pain, her sadness, and her defeat. I gave her aunt the look of ‘what the heck is going on?’. That’s when Julieta’s story was explained to me.

Would she have been hanging out with me if I had stayed home?
Would I have heard her screaming if I were hanging out in front of my house?
Could I have prevented this?

Being constantly reminded about the incident every time she made another trip to the well, Julieta stayed in Balama for only one more month. She’s now with other family members in a different town.

This is Julieta’s story. A story which almost went untold by her, a story which almost went untold by me. How many of these stories have gone untold?

I share this story on the eve of International Women’s Day to illustrate the some of the constant struggles that women go through not only here in my town but in many places around the world. These are struggles no one should ever have to go through.

Empower one another.
Respect one another.
Love one another.

Rafael

IMG_8674

Julieta hiding from the rain while waiting for her turn at the well.

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~ by rhexperience on March 7, 2014.

One Response to “Women’s Day”

  1. […] story along with Julieta’s story made me realize that I had to do something more than just coach women’s basketball. I, along […]

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