I grew up in the slums, poor and hopeless; my education was limited and my future bleak. I saw death at an early age, contributed to it in so many ways. I never believed in knights in shining armor. My dreams all had one thing in mind: escape. I needed a savior. This is my story.

I was born sometime between 1996 and 1998. My mother can’t be bothered to recall the exact day. The last of many children, I was unplanned for, not wanted. She had found out about her pregnancy too late. No money to procure an abortion, she delivered me at home and immediately went back to her. It was nothing new. I knew at least 5 of my brothers, I had sisters but no one knew what had become of them. This slum is all I know. All I am.

At the age of 6, I was a happy child. Days of no food and showers were nothing new to me. It was more shocking to get food than to go without. I sat by the railroad and watched the rich children go off to school. In big cars and school buses. I had never been in a car. I had never left the slum dwelling. I played with my neighbours and pretended we were rich. None of us went to school. We taught each other all we needed to know.

My brothers used to send money home. Or so I thought. One by one they all left, and the money ran out. Mama and Papa now had to work more. They had mouths to feed, rent to pay, clothes to buy. I was too young to understand that something was wrong. My friends started school; I was left at home all alone. Watching as they got an education and more knowledge. Why was I not joining them? I asked myself

I approached my father and asked about school. Everything changed. Papa hit me, told me I was a useless thing and deserved to die. I hid under the bed for days, no one looked for me. When I finally came out, Mama told me I was now a big girl, that if I wanted to go to school I would have to work for it. A strange man walked into the house.

I became a woman that night. I fought him, but my little body was no match for him. Reeking of sweat and alcohol, he crashed me on the mattress. Did things to me that I never knew exist. I discovered parts of my body that day. My tears dried up as the pain increased, but Mama and Papa never came in to help me. He left money on his way out.

I can’t remember if it was the same night or days later, all I know is men used me. I was to lie there and let them pump themselves dry in my body if I wanted education. I no longer cried. What was the point? No one would stop them, no one cared. I confided in my friend once, the next day her family moved away and Mama said it was because they did not want to be associated with a cheap slut like me. Abused physically and mentally, I no longer had dreams, just nightmares. All approaching footsteps made me cower in fear.

I sit on this bed, wondering what happened to my siblings. Why did they all leave and where did they go? Did they run away from this hell? Can I escape? If I do where do I go? Most of all I wonder why I had to go through this. Not knowing my future and not wanting to remember my past. Broken in many ways, I ask myself is there a God out there? Who will hear my cry and rescue me?