A grandmother instilling the value of education. Pic: Courtesy of RoomtoRead Charity

When I saw these lines of Claire Fagin today, I thought I could make a difference for you too if you are reading these stories.

My grandmother told me that educating her children, boys and especially her girls, was the proudest she has ever been of herself.

The importance of this is that – she herself was never educated, immersed in a culture and of a tradition that never preached the value of education in her ears, that proclaimed her role as a young girl was to learn how to cook, clean and be a good daughter so that she could be a wife to enable her to be good mother; was all she knew.

Yet she deemed it a necessity to educate all her children no matter the hardship, the struggle and long days she would face to make sure they went to the best schools and attained a quality education.

Today, all her sacrifices, her worries paid off. Her children are educated and they, in turn, have invoked the voice of education in the ears of their children.

In different ways, different forms, again and again, we talk about education, its needs for our development and the value it has for our growth. I want to reiterate the point again but through stories. Stories I have heard from those around me. Stories I hope they would not mind me sharing.

A boy that loved football so much, was passionate about being the best player -dreamt of being a professional player but realised that those dreams were too expensive for someone from a large family with many mouths to feed and not enough to waste.

So instead of having the luxuries of a dream, he turned his talent into being educated, being the best so that his mother – who thrived to make sure his son succeed – would be proud, would live the life she deserved for the sacrifices she made for her children.

A boy that could have floated with the masses, complaining about his fate and not being well of, instead saw poverty as the problem and education as a solution to break out of it. And break out of it he did.

The young girl from a long time ago, from a family that did not have the connections or the right family name, walked from one town to the next, on an empty stomach with shoes held together by strings, a faded uniform with a hole or three sowed in by a different coloured thread, under the blazing sun.

She walked to educate herself, she walked to break away from the barriers that held her back, that told her no, that denied her of her rights, she walked to change her life for herself and for those around her. And she did.

To the mother, and back again to the grandmother, who sold what she could, praised the right people. Scolded her kids, lectured them when a teacher said they did not do so well that semester. Did what she had to do for her children’s sake. Her strength was seeing her children succeed, her tears fell on the day they came back to tell her, thank you, to honour her for giving a gift so precious without which they wouldn’t be where they were now.

If you see yourself or see someone in these little pieces, then you know, then you understand and cherish the need for education.

I have learnt from these people, I have appreciated their stories and to me, they are my inspirations to make sure my hands were in a mixture of those that wanted to fight for education for everyone, everywhere.

By Fatou Mbenga

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