My Childhood was taken away from me – Maureen Chiamaka Dilo
…I volunteer to visit Orphanage and disabled Homes to give them free haircut
By Mercy Hill
Please what’s your background?
My name is Dilo Maureen Chiamaka, a female barber, survivor and also a philanthropist. I am a student of Federal Polytechnic, Oko, studying Micro-Biology. I am from Enugwu-Ukwu , Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State. I grew up in the North. I am the first child and the only daughter of my parents. I was sexually abused as a child. That’s one of the things that propel me to listen and talk to victims of sexual abuse and everything that has to do with rape.
How was growing up like?
It wasn’t really fun because molestation was too much, typical of how life was in the north, with pedophiles around everywhere. My Dad had a bar then and people come in, of course older men. They try to molest you because you are a child. My childhood was taken away from me.
I have always been this girl that is different. I see myself doing what every other person is not doing and I have always known that there is something in me but I couldn’t figure out what it was. So, when every other person is doing something and you are just there, more like you don’t have a friend and people don’t even understand you.
Also, with the kind of men we have around us and the kind of things they subjected us to. People that were supposed to protect you are now the person that rape you or molest you. That’s what I meant when I said my childhood was taken away from me.
At what age did you experience the abuse?
The molestation started while I was in primary school. We grew up with our parents not always there. They were trying to Make money so they can take care of us. They were always busy, so they were not really paying attention to those things.
There was nothing like talk, somebody you have to talk. Everybody was scared. I will talk to them about it someday. The few times I tried talking about it, they were like, she’s just a child. Maybe she is just acting up like a child.
When you were raped, what happened? Was there anybody you talked to about it?
I talked to someone, she is my cousin. She was very angry actually. She was like you have been raped. As a child I didn’t really understand what she was saying. The crazy aspect of these things is that I didn’t know I was raped as a child. Then I didn’t know what was rape, I was just there and I was scared. She took me to the hospital and they gave some treatment.
Your parents didn’t know about all these?
They didn’t know but I had to tell them later.
What was done to the person?
When I told my parents, I didn’t want to push it further, probably I was scared. I just then decided to leave the person and live my life.
How was life after then? Was it just a onetime rape or was it continous?
It was twice. After the first person, then the second one. There is this thing they say that if you are raped for the first time, there is every tendency that you will be raped again. I think it has to do with the mind. You attract it without knowing. So, after the first one, the second one came again.
The second one was when I was hawking things then. The guy was like, okay, follow me to my house, I want to buy in my house, and I have to show my sister what I want to buy. I trusted him. In as much as I was scared of men, but this is a girl that want to help the family, a girl that wants to sell her goods. So, I didn’t really think that this guy may want to rape me again.
So, life after the whole thing hasn’t been easy actually. In as much as I have this courage to actually talk about it and try to help other people, but the pain doesn’t just leave. The pain lives with you most times but you just have to set your mind that when the trigger comes in, you just have to control your mind and your emotions. It’s not always easy, it’s just like crying for nothing.
Healing from sexual abuse trauma is hell, because people that are even good, you can’t trust them anymore. At some point, you might even become scared of your Dad or even your brother. Something that affects just one person also affects another person.
After the second rape, you continued going to school, were you able to cope with the school system?
I stopped schooling. I dropped out of school at JSS 3. I had to start working to support the family. At some point, I was like, what did I do? Did I do anything wrong? It comes with even suicidal thoughts most times. You will just feel like you want to kill yourself.
Why is it that everybody doesn’t like you? Why are men like this? That’s what I kept asking myself. Of course, my Dad is there, I have a brother,, I have good men around me but it’s not always easy because sometimes you’ll just want to leave everybody. At some, I didn’t like my family. I just wanted to be left alone but they didn’t really understand that it, because I was scared of telling them and I was their only girl child.
I didn’t know how they will feel. I became mature in time because of my experiences, that’s why I said my childhood was taken away from me . I didn’t do what my mates were doing. Sometimes, it’s hunting me back. I have to go back to those things that I was supposed to do. It is nothing I wish for an enemy because it’s hell.
At what point did you go back to school?
After I dropped out in JSS 3, I started working, I started going for lessons. After some years, I decided to write WAEC. I thought it through: I know I have always been intelligent and that I can cope . It was my brother who was to drop out of school.
The way the society is, if a boy drops out of school, I don’t know if he is going to handle the pressure. So, as an elder sister, I decided I was going to carry the burden. I think I have this manly trait; I love taking care of people and I love taking up responsibilities. So, I said my brother should keep going to school.
At some point, I started teaching. I got a job in a school so that I will not stop thinking about academics. I have always loved children so, I started teaching in a private school. After a while, I said ok, I needed to go back to school. I registered for WAEC, I wrote the exam and passed it. But after my JAMB, I didn’t make it and that was the first time, I failed in life. It was so devastating.
What were the kind of jobs you were doing while you worked?
I hawked. I did all these promos with different companies such as Etisalat promo. Then after some years, I decided to teach in a school. That was how I started teaching and went for lessons. Then I wrote my WAEC, JAMB and WAEC again. Before I dropped out, I already took my junior WAEC so it was the senior classes I never attended. After the junior WAEC, we came in for the first term, things kept getting difficult.
I was like let me stop schooling, I can’t handle it. I didn’t know how I handled it. I have two WAEC, the first one is art. People say, when you’re too intelligent, it’s a problem because you don’t know what to do: whether you should go for arts or sciences .
When I failed my first JAMB, I cannot forget it because it was the first time I failed. My mum said I should calm down. She said that I failed but “that doesn’t mean you’re not intelligent”. I had applied for law and scored 220 or thereabout for UNIZIK and I wasn’t offered admission.
After some years, I started thinking. I have this maternal aunt. She’s one woman I respect a lot. She’s the one that called and encouraged me and queried why I allowed this little thing to weigh me down. She said, I needed to re-write WAEC, that I should choose science. So, I was like, I don’t have this basic foundation. I didn’t know how I was going to go through it.
Yes, I know I am intelligent but there is this thing about basic education. But they told me, I could do it. I travelled to Abuja to live with my cousin She is married with two kids, they were like, are you sure you can do it. The husband said he wasn’t going to register me in a special centre, that I have to sit down and read.
He said I had to go back to SS 3. I started wearing uniform again. He said I had to bend down if this is really what I wanted. I wore the uniform with those that I am older than. This is what I wanted, so I started reading. I have to read and read. By God’s grace, his help and that of my cousin, I wrote my WAEC.
When the result came, I was shivering because the guy I was depending on didn’t make it. This is the same guy that was teaching me chemistry, physics and biology. They said he failed physics and chemistry. I lost hope because if this guy should fail, then what is left of me. My cousin was like, calm down, just calm down. When I went to the school, I already made up my mind because I was sure I failed it.
When I got to the school, the principal was like, you have to buy me wine before I release your result. When he finally gave it to me, I was very happy. I couldn’t believe it. So, I wrote JAMB again. I actually wanted to do nursing. I passed and I didn’t get nursing in the school I applied for. I also wrote some exams in colleges of nursing, the ones at Nkpor and Nnewi.
I passed them but their fees were very high. I don’t like depending on people. I have already started working. This is someone that has been hustling since I was a child. So, going to beg someone now, would be difficult. I didn’t want at a point when someone will start insulting me. I said OK, let me just go for Federal Polytechnic, Oko. That’s why I started with Health Sciences and Technology. Now I am offering Micro Biology and I am in my 400 level, HND. I will still become whoever I want to become.
What would you like to become?
What I would like to become is pretty broad. But professionally, I have two things on my mind. I really want to become a nurse and an author because I write very well.
You are schooling and you decided to be a barber, why?
I love being different. I don’t like following the crowd. I don’t want to do what every other person is doing. And I think, one person has to come out and say there are no menial jobs. A woman can be whatever she wishes to be; anything you want to do as long as you can do it. I am not sure there’s anything a woman would want to do, she would not do unless she has not set her mind to do that. So, that was why I decided this was what I want to do. I don’t want to do what every other person is doing.
When did you start barbing?
I started in the year 2019, but officially , I started in 2020. I decided to also help people with the skill. When you want to become something, most times you don’t really know why you are doing it. Maybe after you become that thing, that’s what makes it clearer.
I became a barber, yes, to set out that space for young girls coming up and tell them that they can do whatever they want to be. I know I have inspired people. I know people who have become female barbers currently because I inspired them. But after a while, I found out it was not just that, there were many other things I needed to do. So, I started helping, going to home of the disabled, giving them haircut, going to the orphanage homes.
I do that every month. I started doing that since 2020. That’s when I realized, this is not just about making other girls know that you can do something. It involves helping these less privileged, making them happy, making them look good and neat.
…to be continued