Jackline Wanjiku Muna, 99 years, an orphan and mother of two, speaks on being thrust into widowhood at a young age
Twenty-nine-year-old Jackline Wanjiku Muna, an orphan and mother of two, speaks on being thrust into widowhood at a young age, raising her children, her healing journey and offering support to other young widows.
At only the age of 27, Jackline Wanjiku Muna became a widow. She earned a title she never imagined or thought she would own, at least not at that young age and in her prime.
After just four years of marriage, her husband Antony Kiarie Muriuki passed away in a hit and run accident.
“It was a completely surreal experience,” she begins. “I got married in 2017 after dating my husband for two years.
Together, we got two boys; Travis who is four years old and Jayson who is one year nine months old. Life was good.
He was a supportive husband who went out of his way to ensure that we didn’t lack anything.
He was an ever present dad to our sons. He moulded and nurtured me into the woman I am today.
He taught me how to save and invest and played a role of a dad in me too,” explains Jackline who was raised by a single mum (a widow).
Jackline says her husband went missing on December 12, 2019, marking a new and sad chapter in her life.
“He had left the house at around 4pm after bringing us some shopping. He went out for a drink, but never came back, which was unusual for him.
I tried calling him, but his phone was off. The next day, we reported the matter at Embakasi Police Station.
On a Monday, his elder brother was called from his work place and he went to identify his body at Shalom Hospital morgue in Athi River.
He is the one who broke the news to me. It was devastating,” Jackline narrates.
The news of her husband’s death sent her in a state of shock and confusion. “I kept on wondering what would happen to me and my children at my young age. It was the most painful thing to go through,” she says.
According to Jackline, 29, life as a young widow is hard. “She offers: “First, I lost friends, especially my married friends.
They talked behind my back and others did it to my face. They didn’t want to associate themselves with me.
I went through a lot of stigmatisation that led to depression. I was lost. By that time, I was breastfeeding my youngest son and the milk just disappeared.
My baby would cry in my presence but I couldn’t hear his cry. I thank God I had a supportive house girl, Mary, who did her best to look after me and the children.”
Baking the grief away
As time went by and she started healing from depression, Jackline decided to readjust her life.
“I moved from where we used to live to a place I could afford. I enrolled for online baking classes that really helped me to heal.
Baking for me was some form of therapy. I would wake up in the middle of the night to bake, especially on those sleepless nights,” says Jackline, a teacher by profession.
“My house girl and my sisters were my greatest support system, and my mum-in-law was always there for me.
I had also lost my mum in October 2019, so it was a double blow. My first born child used to ask for his dad, but now he no longer does.
The children still don’t quite understand death, but as they get older I will explain it to them and what happened to their dad,” she says.
It is out of this experience that Jackline decided to start a platform to encourage young widows who have gone through the same experience as hers.
“I started the young widows initiative because of the stigma young widows are subjected to in society.
Many face rejection, neglect, and are even termed as a threat by married women who think that a young widow will eye someone’s husband.
Some lose all their property or are denied the right to their husband’s property by their in-laws.
Some fall in the wrong hands of men who use them and mess up their lives and that of their children.
Often, many are left jobless and have no idea where to pick up the pieces and move on with their lives.
That is why I thought of starting an initiative where I could bring young widows together so that we share our stories and ideas and encourage each other,” she says.
Jackline says young widows are often afraid to speak out and most of them suffer in silence.
“Being an orphan, I had a hard time because I felt no one really understood what I was going through or how I felt like my mum would.
Hence meeting people who had gone through what I was going through gave me hope and a reason to push on,” she says.
“My future plan for the initiative is to use my baking skills to train the young widows to grow themselves and provide for their children.
I also hope to introduce other short courses such as beadwork and crocheting.
I will also engage professionals such as lawyers who can teach them about their rights, how to invest and many more issues,” she adds.
For Jackline, getting married again is not in her mind right now. Her main focus is bringing up her boys and building her career.
“Continuously moving forward helped lift me out of the depression that comes with grief. Part of grief means losing the dreams you had, but life can be beautiful post-loss.
You just have to search for the glimmer of light in each day and make that your beacon of hope.
That is what will get you through the future days and years to come,” Jackline says.