|Dominica leads her students in a lesson on social studies.|
Dominica Chelatan (24) displays a rare trait, she has a photographic memory of her childhood. Her recollection of her upbringing speaks to the survival tactics she developed, living in a culture that had little regard for a girl child.
She was born into a large traditional Pokot family of twenty children. Her father was a village elder who was respected in the community. His words were like commands and nobody dared to disobey him. The sad thing is, he had no regard for education.
Dominica says, “I grew with a tiny body stature and I was the least noticeable among my siblings. But strangely enough, my father secretly kept tabs of my growing up, with motives of marrying me off when I hit my adolescent years.”
Luckily, World Vision had just established a center for girls escaping Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C) and child marriage - Morphus Rescue Center. Dominica was among the first girls admitted to the center. She says, “I stayed at the center while attending school at the nearby Morphus Primary School. I did my primary school national examinations and I performed exceptionally well.”
To ensure that the girls had a smooth transition from primary schools to high school, World Vision invested in teacher training and other improvements at a new secondary schools in the community. Dominica was selected to join the pioneer class of girls enrolled at St Elizabeth’s Girls High School. She says, “I was elated to have joined high school, it was a dream come true, none of my sibling’s had made it that far. My father used to marry them off at an early age to gain dowry for economic gains. Knowing where I came from, I took advantage of every opportunity to work hard and perform well in school.”
After high School, Dominica was privileged to attend Mercy Vocational Training Center. After 6 months of vocational training, Dominica joined Rongai Teachers Training College.
Dominica graduated from Rongai Teacher Training College. Now a teacher at Seretow Primary School, Dominica is proud of herself and the radical choices she made in life. She says “I still have many plans in my life, and one, is my desire to further my education in the next three years. I also want to make sure my younger siblings get a good education like me.”
Dominica is now a role model to her siblings and peers in the community. She teaches and supports three of her younger siblings. Her father now brags of her achievements, perhaps thinking in his mind of the tiny daughter who challenged his wishes but now towers high in his family.
A teary Dominica seemed at a loss for words when asked to talk about World Vision. She could only utter, “I owe my life to World Vision, I have greatly benefited from their gracious generosity. May God bless the work of World Vision as they continue to touch the lives of other people like me in Kenya and around the World.”