HOW I MAKE IT WORK...
Kenyan-born Rosemary Kariuki-fyfe.
Igrew up in Kenya, one of 16 children. My father had two wives and we all lived together on a farm. We were always working, helping with house chores and looking after the animals. The sexual abuse in my family was able to happen because the household was so full and busy and we were scared to come out and say anything. We were told not to talk badly about others.
When I moved to Australia in 1999, aged 39, it was a fresh start. I was lucky that I found so many wonderful people who helped me. When I came to this country, I didn’t have any information about becoming part of the community – so it made me realise how important that help is. I’ve worked as a multicultural community liaison officer with the NSW Police Force in Western Sydney for 10 years now. I love waking up every morning to go to my job. I work with the whole community, refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers, to educate them about the role of police and how to do the right thing.
The hardest part of my job is trying to gain people’s trust. Lots of them are very traumatised. They don’t trust anybody because of where they came from.
I can understand how they feel. I had never told anybody about my life until I met Ros Horin in 2011. She was working on a play about African women who had survived abuse, kidnapping and war, and she wanted to hear my story. For some reason, I trusted Ros and my story spilled out. It was very painful. But after telling her, I felt like I had been born again.
When we started rehearsing the play, I felt scared about sharing my story [publicly]. I was worried, because so many people knew me. I thought, “How will I walk down the street?” My sons didn’t even know what had happened to me, and I didn’t know how they would react. But after seeing the play, my children matured overnight. And now they love me more.
A documentary about the play is being released. It’s important for women who can’t move forward to know that whatever issues they have gone through, there is more to life.
This experience has given me a voice to speak on behalf of those who cannot. I’ve managed to open up, move on and forgive. I get my strength from loving myself. I wanted to heal – and I have. The Baulkham Hills African Ladies Troupe is in select cinemas nationally from October 6.