Even When Times Were Tough

Christina Selemani’s parents abandoned her as a one-year-old. Looking back, she expresses gratitude to the family who adopted and cared for her. But despite feeling loved by them, she also remembers how she lived as a maid doing all the chores in their home. Because her adopted parents neglected to send her to school, Christina grew up without learning to read or write. She desperately longed to fill the gaping hole in her heart somehow. 

“I felt like I was missing out on a lot of opportunities in life, and I wanted to be able to do the same things that my peers were doing,” Christina said.

When Christina heard of a local church offering adult literacy classes, she determined to join the program. Teachers and volunteers at the church worked with her until she could read and write.

“This was a huge turning point in my life as I was finally able to access the same opportunities as my peers,” Christina said.

As time went on, however, Christina’s adopted family became more demanding. They filled her days with chores so that she had no time to spend with friends. They scolded her for not meeting their expectations. She felt exhausted and powerless to control her own life. 

After months of feeling trapped and helpless, Christina took matters into her own hands. Running away to live with the street children seemed her only option. She decided to risk the dangers to finally gain her freedom. But her innocence soon led her into the new difficulty of an unexpected pregnancy. 

“I was terrified and felt more alone than ever,” Christina said. “I had to find a way to provide for my baby, but I had no idea how.”

Christina wondered whether she should keep the baby, but believing this was her only chance to have a real family who would love her unconditionally, she resolved to find a way to care for her child. 

A woman opened her home to Christina during her pregnancy, supporting her like her own daughter and teaching her to be a responsible mother. 

“At that time, I can say she was my guardian angel and provided me with the love and care I needed to move on with my life,” Christina said.

But after Christina’s baby was born, the woman forced her to marry a man she chose in order to get the dowry money. Married life went smoothly for a time until Christina gave birth to her second child. Then her husband began coming home drunk and beating her. Finally, Christina knew she must leave for her children’s safety. 

Christina moved from place to place, taking any job she could find, from selling fish to working as a house helper, to ensure her children’s survival.

 “Even when times were tough, I never stopped believing that one day I would be able to make something of my life and make sure that my children could pursue their dreams,” Christina said. 

In the midst of these struggles, God brought Twelve21 into her life.  

“It is just by the grace of God that I got the opportunity to work for this ministry,” Christina said. “This became my new hope in life as I was able to use my skills and abilities to make an impact in my community and the lives of those around me. Through Twelve21 I was able to find purpose and meaning in my life.”

Now Christina’s son Joshua attends Twelve21’s school where he receives meals and health care along with his education. With her earnings as a cleaner at the school, Christina has been able to buy land where she plans to build a house for her children. 

“This will provide them with a safe and stable home and will be a great blessing to them,” Christina said. “I am thankful for the opportunity to continue working with Twelve21 and I am excited to see what the future holds.”

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