Terry Gobanga's story is one of the most inspiring I have ever heard. You can't hear her story and not be inspired to stay strong and keep trusting God, to keep believing that there is a light, a bright one at the end of the tunnel.
Speaking on KTN’s Morning Express show, Terry said that on the morning of her wedding, she decided to escort her friend who had slept over and on her way back she was waylaid by three men who abducted and drove off with her.
The horror that awaited her in the car was nothing short of wicked. She was repeatedly raped by 3 men in a moving car for 3 hours. The last man removed the pieces of clothing that gagged her and shoved his manhood into her mouth. In her mind, Terry knew that she was about to die and felt she had nothing to lose and that is when she bit his manhood, sending him reeling away in pain.
This act set off her assailants and that is when they stabbed her repeatedly and tossed her out of the car, leaving her for dead. She was found and taken to the hospital by good Samaritans after the horrific incident. While in the hospital, doctors informed her that she could never have any children as her womb had been ruptured after she got knifed by her attackers.
While some may would have made it for the hills after this unpleasant occurrence, her then to be husband stuck around and they got married about a year after the incidence. This was after doctors made sure she was in the clear medically. 29 days after their wedding, another tragedy struck Terry and she lost her husband to Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
Despite all that happened to her and the persecution from her dead husband's family, Terry stayed strong and is now married to Pastor Tonny and they both lead the Stones to Rubies Ministries Church in Laiser-Hill Rongai. The doctors were also proven wrong as Terry is now the mother of two children
Read Terry's full story below...
One early morning seven years ago, Terry Gobanga, then 24, woke up a happy woman.
It was her wedding day. But as she and her bridal party went about the house preparing for the big day, she realised she had a piece of her fiancé’s wedding outfit.
She asked a friend, Judy, to take the item to him. It was about 5.45am and since Judy was not familiar with Nairobi’s Buruburu estate, Terry walked her to the matatu stage.
As she made her way back home, she saw three men in a parked car watching her closely. One was seated on the car’s bonnet.
Excited about what the day would bring, she paid little attention to them. But just as she walked past, the man on the bonnet grabbed her, forced her into the vehicle and they drove off. She barely had time to call for help.
“All that time, I was thinking it was a big joke because it was my wedding day,” recounts Terry, who was, and still is, a pastor.
Two of the men in the vehicle started hitting her and told her to cooperate with them or else they would kill her.
One of the men held a knife to her and she realised her life was in danger.
Raped her in turns
The car began to speed dangerously as the men raped her in turns, stuffing pieces of cloth in her mouth so she would not scream.
The car stopped at one point so that the driver could also assault her too, only he inserted his male organ into her mouth.
Terry bit him despite the risk as she believed the men would kill her anyway.
The guy howled terribly and stabbed her in the stomach. Shortly after, she was thrown out of the moving vehicle and rolled several times into nearby bushes.
“I was kidnapped at a quarter to six and found by my family at 1pm. There was a huge congregation at All Saints Cathedral for my wedding and they were all left wondering where I was,” Terry says.
The groom, Harrison Ouma Olwande, was equally worried about his wife-to-be, but his phone had been taken away so he could relax and enjoy the proceedings without worrying about any last-minute issues.
Eventually, their church décor had to be taken down to give way to a second wedding that was starting at noon.
A young girl witnessed Terry being thrown out of the vehicle and ran to her grandmother to report the incident.
The grandmother shouted for help. Those who came to her aid tried to flag down vehicles to take Terry to hospital but the longer it took the more convinced they became that she was dead given the amount of blood she was losing.
Further, someone checked for her pulse and told those gathered that she was dead. The police on the other hand were not responding to calls for help.
Terry was later informed that a prominent person happened to pass by decided to find out what was happening when he saw a huge crowd of sad people. He then managed to convince the police to come to the scene.
The police saw her and proclaimed she was dead. She was then wrapped in a blanket and the vehicle headed for City Mortuary.
The police, however, decided to stop at a station to record a statement when Terry returned to consciousness and coughed, startling the officers who had thought she was dead. The police quickly took her to Kenyatta National Hospital.
Back at home, her family was frantically getting in touch with anyone who knew her to find out where she was.
And at the hospital, a matron looked at her and told the other nurses that Terry looked like a bride. “Let me check the churches around to see whether they are missing a bride,” she said.
Coincidentally, she began with the All Saints Cathedral where Terry was to wed. Terry believes it was the hand of God that directed the matron.
The presiding cleric confirmed that a bride had failed to show up for her wedding and came to the hospital and confirmed that Terry was the missing lady.
The story of the matron was narrated to Terry after she came to full consciousness as she had been very violent and shouted at anyone who dared talk to her.
Got wind of the story
Her family was informed of her whereabouts, but the media also got wind of the story and several reporters and cameramen were at KNH to get the details.
“It hurts when you’re the one wearing the shoes and others are just there to get the story. I wasn’t aware of what was going on, but my family was annoyed and tried to prevent the media from taking pictures,” Terry recalls.
She was transferred to the Nairobi Women’s Hospital where she was treated and later counselled. She was also put on anti-retroviral drugs to protect her from HIV.
After 6 months on the drugs, she was given a clean bill of health and started planning for her wedding again with her fiancé who had stood by her.
Some well-wishers – Sherehe Africa and Vip Ogolla – were moved by Terry’s story in a local magazine and paid for her wedding.
This time around, the groom did not want to take any chances and hired bodyguards for his bride. Terry finally had her colourful ceremony. She moved to Kabete with her husband.
The period during their honeymoon was a difficult one as she was still going through trauma. “We were not able to have a normal relationship as husband and wife and this even affected our lovemaking,” she says.
But Harrison was patient and waited until she was ready. Terry describes Harrison as very loving, gentle, protective and understanding.
They met at a hospital where Terry, then 20, had been admitted for chest congestion. Terry was trying to hit an emergency button to call for help when Harrison, who was at the hospital visiting a friend, passed by her bed just in time to see her almost fall.
He pressed the button for her and helped her back up. From that day, their friendship grew.
After the sexual assault, Harrison, her family, church members and senior pastor stood by her, offering her the support she badly needed.
As a pastor, Terry had never imagined something like that would happen to her and she blamed God for a while.
But with the spiritual support she received, she got to the point where she decided to surrender all that had happened to God.
And then tragedy struck once again. One very cold evening, 29 days after the wedding, her husband lit a jiko to help keep the house warm.
He put it in the bedroom. Terry was in the kitchen preparing dinner when her husband, who had been restless all evening, asked her to stop cooking so he could talk to her.
Out of the blue, he said: “In case I die, it will be important for you to get someone loving because your family is close knit.”
These words really stung Terry and she wondered why her husband was thinking of death so early in their marriage.
She cut him short, saying she did not want to hear any talk of death. Sadness engulfed the young couple’s hearts and they both began to cry, holding on to each other. Eventually, they had their supper and left for bed.
General body weakness
Not long after, they started experiencing general body weakness. Little did they know that it was the effect of accumulated carbon monoxide in their bedroom from the jiko.
They had thought they were safe as Harrison had earlier moved the jiko to the sitting room. They passed in and out of consciousness but Terry was able to drop out of their bed when she vomited.
She struggled to the main door and called for help from her neighbours. She survived but her husband died in hospital of the effects of the dangerous gas at the age of 28.
A doctor broke the news that her husband had died as she was recuperating in an emergency ward.
At first she did not believe the doctor and just laughed uncontrollably. It was after the doctor slapped her thrice that the tragedy hit home.
It was a hard time for her as she tried to come to terms with the untimely death of her husband.
“Only 29 days before, I had walked down the aisle to marry this man,” says Terry. She describes that chapter of her life as a “dark season”.
“Life came to a stand-still and I was now living for Harrison. Nothing mattered to me any more and I kept wishing he would walk through the door once more,” says Terry.
She buried herself in denial and lacked the will to eat, shower or even brush her teeth. The months that followed saw her fall into depression, but the support of family and friends helped her recover.
Terry would sing songs of praise to God to help her forget what she had been through. She, however, vowed never to get married again or trust that a man would love her after what she had been through.
But in 2007, at 27, she got married to her current husband, Tonny Gobanga. They have a two-year-old daughter, Tehille Gobanga.
Terry met Tonny at a church basketball tournament in Kisumu when she had gone to visit her sister.
He later became a good friend and was among those who helped with her recovery following the rape and loss of her husband.
He would call her for hours and comfort her even when all she talked about was her late husband.
Terry describes him as one who had “a very clear motive” to be a friend at a time when other men wanted to take advantage of her situation.
Doctors had informed Terry that she would never conceive since her womb had been damaged as a result of the stabbing she received when she was raped.
She informed her current husband who said he did not mind not having children. But the doctors were disproved when she got pregnant.
Despite having gone through a lot of negative experiences, Terry says her inspiration comes from the fact that she can tell people that bad situations are only there for a while.
She has written a book – Crawling out of Darkness (2011) – that captures the details of her story and gives hope to those in despair.
Terry and her husband pastor their church, Stones to Rubies Ministries, located at China Centre along Ngong Road.
Terry also mentors women through a ministry called Pearls of Hadassah. She uses this platform to teach women how to cope with the situations affecting them and uses her story to help them overcome their challenges.
“When you’ve been hit so much with life’s challenges and everything seems to come to an end, never give up.
There are periods you feel you’re done but don’t stop turning the pages. It’s a bad chapter right now but when you continue walking, you’ll realise there’s something more. God has put an intrinsic treasure in all of us. Don’t quit,” she says.