This is where the ripple began that later brought my family the opportunities and empowerment we cherish today. Change for women and girls is possible, and we are working toward it one woman, one community at a time.
My grandmother is almost in her 90s, but you would never believe it.
She still stands strong, holding together her family of eight children and now 35 grandchildren.
While their husbands converge every morning to tap and drink palm wine, the women take care of the children (some have as many as nine), go to the farms, prepare food, and still see to the financial and physical needs of their husbands.
Under these circumstances, I expected to meet frustrated and angry women, but instead, I met a group of vibrant, grateful, cheerful, and hard-working women who all have open hearts and are ready to move forward.
My mother is the first daughter and first child of her family.
Back then one would have expected my illiterate grandmother to follow the norm and keep her daughter home to prepare her for marriage.
She drew from her experiences growing up and gave her all so that her children could go to school in spite of the difficulties. She invested what she had, sold all she had, and borrowed all she could to send us to school.
My mother followed in my grandmother’s footsteps, and today my mother’s children are following in hers, continuing the ripple effect.
I always wondered how my mother managed to sail through all the traumas she had in marriage and raising her three children.
As I grew up I discovered it was from this woman, her mother, that she drew strength.
This was not common in the community, and it set the pace for every child in the family.