Two single mothers who believe that transformative education is the most important investment they can make in their children.
The stories of Madalena & Theopista's Mothers
by AFPF Intern Catherine Namwezi
Madalena, now a high school teacher, was my classmate at the URDT Girls School. Her mother is a single mother who lost her husband in a gunfire attack.
When I had the opportunity to visit Madalena and her mother during my summer internship, I was warmly welcomed to their home where they had grown a beautiful banana garden and other crops. They also had solar power and a tank for water harvesting which I found very unique. After Madalena highlighted how much she had benefited from the URDT girls school, her mother emphasized how they had been positively impacted by URDT as a family. After her husband had passed away, Madalena was able to continue to provide for her family with the help of their family vision and by practicing commercial agriculture.
Madalena’s mother showed us the tomatoes, corn and coffee she is growing for sale using the knowledge and skills she gained from the URDT Girls’ school workshops. She is very confident that she will successfully provide a college education for all of her children using this income from her commercial agriculture.
Returning to campus this summer, I heard everyone in the organization refer to the term “commercial agriculture”. People are successfully transitioning from subsistence farming, whereby they only grow food their own consumption, to commercial agriculture where they are able to sell their crops for income generation. Throughout the home visits, I was impressed by how many parents are now shifting towards commercial agriculture.
Theopista, has been a student at the girls school for over seven years.
Despite having spent so many years at the school, her family still resides in a mud house. This was surprising to me because most people transform their homes in terms of structure within three years of their daughter being enrolled in the URDT Girls School. However, I observed that the family had put into practice much of the knowledge they had acquired from the girls school. For instance, they had achieved all the sanitation measures by implementing a good bathroom and latrine at their home. They also had income generating projects.
I was very curious to know why Theopista’s mother had not invested in a new house. When asked what impact URDT had had on her life in the seven years Theopista had attended the school, her mother confidently brought out her vision and elaborated on it. It was then that I understood why she has not yet built a permanent house even though she has income generating projects.
Like Madalena’s mother, both of these single mothers value and prioritize education. These two women have become champions in providing an education to all of their children. Both women told me that they did not think their daughters would ever attain an education and expected their daughters to be married at a young age. However, after joining the girls school and watching their daughters be transformed into inspiring leaders, these women decided to focus on giving the rest of their children the best education they could provide.
On her vision, Theopistar’s mother highlighted the things she wanted to achieve including a good house. However, at the top of the vision she had stated “only after educating my children.” She is not only a successful single mother but also one that truly values education. She knows education transforms individuals and she wants that transformation for her own children.
Unlike other single mothers who end up in dire poverty, these two wonderful women are now serving as role models. URDT provided them with the knowledge and skills to successfully manage their families and are now headed towards very bright futures. My mother too was a single mother and she constantly told me that the choices each individual makes will always affect his or her generations.