What gives me hope is the experience of one woman, a "foreigner" as she was sometimes referred to. Tall, bold and brown-chocolate with refreshing smiles indeed. She was the synonym for courage. A woman in her own league, a lioness, not even the toughest man in the entire village intimidated her. The ground under her feet made that thunderous sound as she walked straight and upright.
She moved and stood at the entrance of Lodi the village most fiercest man who was chasing his first wife with a red faded belt for failing to cook his favorite black beans. It was a crime, an insult for that to him. Time could not be an excuse and it could not save her except for this this woman standing at the doorway. She commanded the man to let his wife Sylvia to come out. Small and young as she was, the man obeyed her authoritative voice. She took her by the hand and added her to the group of women already gathered at her house under the big mango tree. She wanted to bring a difference, a change not only in the lives and households of these women but the entire community.
"Madam" they called her, for she was a teacher by profession, a primary school teacher loved by every pupil in the school. She was from a different part of the region, but only a wife and teacher in that town.
Her first topic always was submission. A reminder to all the women who attended her Try And Apply It meetings. She talked so passionately about submission to husbands that I now think St Paul used to smile down on her from heaven. Before any other thing to be communicated, submission was always the thing, accompanied with how to take care of a home, including the children and the in-laws. She emphasized that when all these were in place, being submissive to husbands was now that aroma and the bottom pot taste one gets when eating.
She did basic school training on especially, maths, primary healthcare, home economics and English. She was strict but very lenient, understanding and patient with them. The fast learners attached to those who newly joined or slow in catching up. Food security was added in their "curriculum". I saw this working as she never had to spend in buying food items but all came from the farms. She also invited a number of her colleagues whom she met from other schools during workshops and seminars to talk to these ladies and encourage them.
Just as they say, "When the messenger is gone, the message must continue" so true it is. I recently visited this village where I learnt the art of being a woman myself though I was way too far away from that age. I saw her legacy still intact. The message is really continuing, I found that even men (husbands) are now in the Try And Apply It group and some more programs have been added, for example those with HIV/AIDS are cartered for in that they are encouraged to go for drugs, take them on time and should keep themselves and others not yet infected safe. They are encouraged to go to schools the students to keep safe and also go to the health center as counselors. I talked to a number of them including the discordant couple who testified of how their marriage is now flourishing and are happier than before one of them fell sick and joined the group. This is because you come and try by acting out the problem solving tactics in dramas and then when you go back home and a problem comes up, you apply what was in the drama during the trying.
Lots more people testified of how homes are happier, less domestic violence as everyone is aware of their rights and know where to run should the challenge or situation runs out of hand. How children attend school not like before when it was only for the boy child and are graduating as teachers, nurses, police officers or start up businesses. "With no war and the like of Kony (LRA- Lord's Resistant Army) the community is happy and intact". Their now leader a well built woman in her late forty concluded.
This striving initiative started by, the Proverbs 31 woman as she was popularly known among the elderly women. As a form of rescuing wives from the claws of domestic violence. Knowing that the initiative is still on and growing each day gives me hope that one day all the women, will be this woman, my late mother, Christine was her name and let her candle burn on in their own homes and pass these to their children no matter the gender and marriage will be a celebration. The thought of such an experience in that community is very refreshing.