It all started with a deep reflection on my career objectives as a professional and my passions in life. I had been married for nine years with three kids, and one more on the way. I came to realized that my professional career had taken a toll and as a result it had stayed stagnant. I was getting depressed as I could not believe that I was at same spot.
I remembered my mother’s advice before I got married. That was fifteen years ago, she told me to make sure that I advance in my education and professional career because education is an immense and determining wealth for a women especially in Africa. She said “Knowledge surpasses silver and gold”.
At the end of my deep moments of reflection, I decided to go back to school to further my education.
I started preparing my application for a Master’s degree program in Water Resources Management at the University of Dschang, Western Region of Cameroon. I decided to share my ambitions with my husband. My first thoughts were that he will not like the idea. But to my greatest surprise he encouraged me to apply.
I was heavily pregnant and my baby was due for the next month. After having a long dialogue with my husband, I finally applied for the course. I received an email confirming my selection for the program exactly four months after my registration. .
I had to travel to Dschang with my 3months old baby to complete my admission process. This was my fourth child with which I faced great challenges, including my reluctance to move on.
I visited one of my aunts who had had a similar experience, to explain the situation to her. She encouraged me by telling me her own story. Her story inspired me and from that day I developed the right motivation to face my situation.
On a Monday morning I travelled to the university, getting on campus I went straight to the notice board to have more information.
That is how I found myself on campus with a baby in my arms. Some other students around looked at me very strangely. I could see many questions on their faces.
I looked at the list of 30 names of candidates that were selected and I found out that I was the only female on the class list. I was sad and felt bad. I said to myself “When shall this situation ever change?” At all levels we find the same imbalance. Feeling very discouraged again, I went to the office of the Head of Department (HoD) to introduce myself to him.
With my baby in my arms I got into his office. He gazed at me for a while, looking very puzzled, without uttering any word. I introduced myself and said why I had come. Then he asked: “How are you going to manage both your studies and your baby… we have no child care center here.”
Feeling very frustrated I told him that I had come just to have more information about the program including the time table. He give me all the information I requested and I headed back to Bamenda.
Classes began two weeks after I had returned to Bamenda, however, I did not report on campus to begin my studies simply because I was confused. I had to make one of the hardest decisions in my life.
Looking for a solution, I called my mother to come over and help me out with the baby. We had a lengthy discussion and we decided that my aunty who was not too occupied will come over to assist me in taking care of the baby.
Finally, I went to school late, as late as the third week of classes. My class mates saw me for the first time and they very excited to have one women in their mist.
I interacted with them for a while and later developed a good companionship with them. One day during break one of them asked me “Madame are you the lady that the HoD described in class the other day…?” I asked him to tell me more about the description given them by the HoD and he continued ‘He said you came to his office with a baby in your arms and you want to study as well.” I told them I was the one and I added that I was very determined to have my Master’s degree at the same time with them. From that day I took up the challenge and stoop up for success in my education.
I went through the program and completed in two years. I believed in myself and also in hard work. My peers were very encouraged by my story and most of them also decided to further their education. Now, women come to me for advice on a regular basis.
Though the path was rough, I was successful because of the support and encouragement I received from my family.
I believe that women have to step out of their limiting and unfulfilling traditional roles created by society and move barriers in order to be the change they want to see in the world.
My dear friends believe in your self and all that you are.Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.