Called to do more
Anna’s father had multiple wives and her mother was #2. “That’s never a good place to be,” she says. Family life was rough and when she was 13 years old it was time for her to be circumcised. Her older sister had gone along with the tradition and the big village coming-of-age celebration that followed, but Anna refused. She had grown up seeing girls die from this, including one of her best friends.
Finally, Anna decided to run away. Terrified, she found a safe place in a church, with women who encouraged her. Anna’s father eventually accepted her decision and she moved home. Through this experience, Anna learned that God was on her side, and she became a Christian.
But Anna’s journey was still very difficult. A year later her mother became very, very ill. Treated successfully at a hospital, the family then needed to pay the bill. Their solution was to marry 14-year-old Anna to an older man she had never met, in exchange for money to pay the hospital.
Within a year, her sister died in childbirth. The family decided that Anna should raise the baby. Soon after that she was pregnant with her own first baby, and her second baby followed within a year. Sixteen-year-old Anna now had three little ones to care for, and it was more than she could handle.
This began a very dark time for Anna. As she scrounged for work, she lost all hope for the future.
One day she entered a church and poured out her desperation to God. The pastor prayed over her, and she left the church feeling much lighter than when she had entered. She heard God’s voice giving her comfort and telling her to go back to her hometown.
Anna’s journey began to change. When she returned home and finally found work at a hotel, an American guest noticed her. Through a translator, he told Anna, “Something tells me that you would be a good mother to children at an orphanage I’m starting.”
This happened 13 years ago. Since then, Anna’s life has developed in ways she would have never imagined as a young mother in desperate circumstances. Now, after 13 years at Angel House Orphanage, she has been ‘mother’ to 77 children. She has had the privilege to witness the transformations of so many children in her care.
Although her work at the orphanage has been highly rewarding, Anna now feels called to do more. When she looks outside the orphanage gates, she sees more children and families suffering.
To do more, Anna realized first that she needed more education. Her education had ended when she was married off in seventh grade. When she heard about Wesley College opening in Mwanza, she heard that they had a special program for students who had not finished secondary education. When she learned that the college motto was ‘Education for the community’ she knew that she was meant to attend.
Now, at 39 years old, Anna’s life has entered a new chapter. She is pursuing a diploma in theology at the same time as finishing her high school education. But, nothing about this new chapter has been easy.
She worried about how she could go back to school after so many years. “But,” Anna says, “once I committed to take this step, I felt peace. It’s hard, but it’s beautiful.”
We, at Wesley College, are excited to know what Anna is next going to become. It is a privilege to walk beside her on this next part of her journey.