“Dashed hopes and good intentions.”- Edward Albee
It started with some tears. Kemi’s tears. A friend was getting married. Young, bright and quite unwilling. But her family had no money to send her to school. Or to feed her. And 18 years is past adulthood.
Fast forward a few months later we were in Zimbabwe, working 40 young women. Not Kemi’s Friend. But still young women on the brink of something. On the brink of womanhood. The kind that comes too early. Thrust upon you in the form of expectations and reality. What are you to be good for in life? A hefty bride price? We could do with some extra income this month. A doctor? Because if you are going to go to school, you make sure you become somebody.
We spent just about 7 weeks, nearly every day with these young women, telling them that if they worked hard at this, that if they could dare to dream, they could have a shot of turning simple skills into a different life. They could make their own money, they could be their own people. Because the one thing that people respect, coming in right below a woman with a “good husband” is a woman with a good paycheck. We took them to the city. Told them one day they too could live here. Patience is all it takes. Patience and some hard work. They believed it and so did we.
And then we left.
And as they say “Things Fall Apart”. And when they do, do you pack the house out and leave?
It’s almost been year. Some of them have graduated. They are adults. Living adult lives. Whatever that means. I am living mine. But I am haunted by the dreams that I sold them. The dreams that they bought. With all they had in their pockets and in their hearts.
Now I find myself gathering those pennies and that hope that they gave me. I will bring you that thing I promised. Patience, Trust and a whole lot of Faith. That thing that I promised will come one day.
“The substance of faith is a hope in the unseen.” A version of Hebrews 11: 1