BACK TO AFRICA – DAY 2

Today I was able to sit and talk one on one with the girls. Each of them had hopeful and discouraging stories to share.

I was most touched by my time with Carol. Her first question to me was, “How is Logan’s mum?” She remembered when Logan was here in July to photograph and film them and the first thing he said to her when he meet her was that Carol was his mom’s name. Although she has never meet Carol Duarte, she was so happy to her about how she was doing.  This is just one example of how caring this woman is.

I knew many things about Carol from before. I know she is a mom of 6, married, and lives in Bobadogo, a village in Mathare Valley. As a common or casual laborer for more than 10 years, she has struggled to make ends meet. Having little knowledge of doing hair didn’t hold her back from wanting to attend school. Carol saw going to beauty school only as a benefit to being able to provide for her family.

What I didn’t know was that Carol’s husband was an alcoholic and has never provided for her or their 6 children. He leaves their home everyday early in the morning to go and drink. If ever he needs money for alcohol, he will go do casual work (cleaning or washing) for one day and use all the money for himself, leaving nothing for Carol or the children. On the days when he is lazier, he will just take money from Carol. This has forced her to do casual work almost everyday. She has worked tirelssly to make sure her children are provided for. Sadly, there are days that she is unable to find work, leaving her and her children hungry for the night. She has also fallen behind on paying her children’s school fees and as a result, her oldest son was dropped from school 3 years ago. He, too, is now a casual laborer making the equivalent of $1 per day. Because her husband is gone all the time and only comes home to have his needs met, she feels so alone. In her words she says, “I feel like a widow.”

However, Carol is thankful that he is hardly home and doesn’t ask what she does day to day. He takes such little interest in her that he doesn’t know she is in school. Her talent is eveident of her hard work and dedication to the program. She will now be able to hold a steady job earning much more than a casual laborer. She will even be able to work less days and make more money. The thing she is happiest about is being able to pay her children’s school fees.

Carol has chosen to take joy in her trials. I hope her story will inspire others to find joy and whatever situation they are in. I know she has inspired me.

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