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I am the mother of eight children; four boys and four girls. I am a pastor in our community church. I am also an unpaid local council chairperson (LC1). These are positions that I hold with great pride. They require great leadership ability and patience. It is in these positions of leadership that I interact with women and children of my community of 1000 people in the tiny village of Kikuube, just outside Masindi, Uganda. I am delighted to share with you through this digital medium even though I am a BBC (born before computers).
Milly writing her post (Photo by TMS Ruge)
Almost on a daily basis, I meet with mothers who are struggling to support their families on very little income and yet are doing it with great, zeal, patience and love. In a village setting -- where mothers are ill-equipped to make this a reality -- are ladies of great generosity, who dedicate their lives to their children's future. Upon their children, they leave indelible impressions of what a loving mother should be.
They work long hours in their gardens and small shops, thinking less of themselves and more on the welfare of their children. Though harassed by the complications of life in a small village in Uganda, they willingly sacrifice their very lives so that their children will inherit a better world. These mothers are determined to be good examples to their children and even other mothers who are not mindful of their children's future.
My mother had eight children as well, and the best advice she gave me was to love my children unconditionally. This message I also relay to the mothers in my community and those around the world. Children are a gift from God, and we should endeavor to encourage them on, whatever their weaknesses or strengths.
As a Pastor, I try to set a good example for my children. I pray for them unceasingly. I teach them the Bible, and set Godly principals in the home for them to follow. I stick to it come rain or shine, and it pays off. I believe that one of the best ways for us to empower our girls is to educate them and groom them for motherhood right from adolescent stage. Because of financial constraints on many families in our community, our young girls tend to get married at an early age before they attain what's best for them.
Pamela is one of my twin daughters. She had stopped school in Senior Four because we could not afford to pay for her to continue her education. Without financial resources for higher education, she opted to marry early. In our communities, men pay bride prices, or dowries to the parents of the bride. However, the high price negotiated never equates to a happy and successful marriage. Many times, the girls eventually end up on their own without a plan of how to take care of their children. This was my daughter's fate.
Despite this setback, I continued to counsel her and encourage her to go back to school. I believe that educating the girl child is the best way to guarantee that our young mothers are equipped to take care of their children.
My eldest son, Teddy (TMS Ruge) stepped in and agreed to support her as she completed a finance degree at Makerere University. She is now a General Manager at Uganda Medical Plants Growers, Ltd. It is a mother's dream come true when your children support each other's passion to succeed. Pamela is an inspiration to me, her sisters and other young women in the community. It is my hope that she also inspires her young girls to reach higher than she ever did.
As village leaders, we are committed to seeing that all children attend school, especially the girl child. But these efforts are sometimes rendered fruitless by parents who would rather get a bride price than an education for their girls. What if we invested in those girls becoming more educated? By letting them marry early, we lose the doctors, nurses, managers and teachers that could have been the pride of this community.
All children have dreams. As parents, it is important for us to help them not only visualize their dreams, but to help them realize their full potential so that their lives will be much better than ours. Fellow mothers, let us wake up to the reality that the world is changing, and we the mothers are the agents of change. Talk to your girls, don't shy away from your responsibility as a nurturer of dreams. Inspire your daughters on and see them getting to heights you only dared dream for them.
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