I Honor a remarkable woman!!
I tell a story about my neighbor. She was the eldest of a family of 5, 4 girls and 1 boy. She is either my age or 1 year younger than me, but her exact birth date is unknown since she wasn’t born in a hospital. According to her father, girls are a waste of space. He wanted boys but he had only one son. He was abusive and never approved of her schooling and constantly beat his wife for sending her daughters to school.
Her father was a fisherman so he was always gone but whenever he came back and saw the girls going to school, he would instantly start beating her mother and they will have to stay at home until he’s gone. The girls would miss out maybe several months of school if he is home that long to the point where they would wish for him to go so that they can resume school.
The school was frustrated with this particular girl’s absence and suspended her for not attending regularly. Her mother could not take her to school because she was afraid of the beating she will receive. The girl came to my mom for help and she took her to the school to persuade the principal to give her a second chance.
My mother had tried many times to talk this man into letting the girls go to school regularly and even his educated brother tried but to no avail. “I do not have money to waste on their education” he always said.
The girl had to drop out before she finished middle school. With her mother giving birth every year the family size had grown to include 4 more boys. Her father had gone bankrupt and came home to live with his family. His savings run out and the family struggled to feed their family growing family size. Her mother opened up a small shop to support the family, and her business became a success. Now she was the sole breadwinner of the family. She was liberated and since she was not reliant on his income she refused to take beating anymore. Eventually, the beating reduced but the verbal abuse was his weapon now.
The girl stayed at home taking care of her 9 siblings and thought her only way to get out and have her own life was to get married. A very much older man seduced her and promised to give her a life far away from her dad’s constant abuse. She was scarred both physically and mentally and this man took advantage of her vulnerability and eventually left her after and he got her pregnant. She run away because she knew her father would definitely kill her when he finds out. She risked her life and took a route that killed many people and decided to migrate illegally towards Italy, but she was captured in Sudan and later was released with bail. She came back to the only place she knew, her family’s home.
She gave birth to a baby girl. Her father continued with his verbal abuse calling her baby a bastard and threatening to kill her and the baby. She would constantly guard her daughter and never went anywhere without her out of the fear that he might kill her baby.
Things changed now, and her sisters go to school regularly, because having the ability to earn her own money liberated her mother. Although, her father does not support the family anymore, however, her mother makes sure her children go to school with her income. Whenever she asks him to support his children he tells her to close down the shop, which is something she says will never do. Her business gave her freedom from his abuse, and freedom to educate her children. He can no longer intimidate her, no longer control her, and definitely no longer stop her daughters from attending school. The 2 elder daughters have missed their chance, but the younger 2 are in school, and one of them is graduating from secondary school and the other is in middle school. I honor this lady because she had the courage to change her life.
This is not a rare case but it’s similar to the stories of many young girls in Somalia. If it wasn’t for my mother, surely my story would not have been so much different from this one. My mother is educated; therefore she understood the importance of education. Whenever I ask her if she regrets not pursuing a career she says “Not for one bit. I chose to become a teacher for 7 children and I was successful at fulfilling my goal”. I honor my mother because she is my role model, my teacher, my mentor and certainly my hero.