The Invisible, Enormous Power of The Image of Inspiration To A Girl

Theresa Takafuma
Posted October 19, 2018 from Zimbabwe

A Zimbabwean motivational speaker, Nyaradzo Shato once said people think in pictures, and I believed her: this is why.

At some point in my life I had to walk over 20 kilometres every day to and from school.

No, it is not just "some point". I did it for four years-from when I was 14 until I finished high school. 

My mother is a primary school teacher, I have five siblings, I am the second born child, and this translates to me having to bear the brunt of scarce resources as my mother singlehandedly did all she could to raise us.

Every week day of those four years I had to cross two streams, cross plains and forests to get to school, sometimes on an empty stomach, because apart from the general scarcity of resources at home, my stepdad was not exactly a kind man.

I started my Form One at a mission school, so life was bliss until my father's only brother passed on (I lost my biological father when I was three) and that meant nobody could afford the boarding school fees so I had to transfer to a rural school.

The first few days were hell—I could not fit in at all because, first, I did not have a complete school uniform and second, things were totally different from what I was used to.

Things were bad on most of the school days, and I had told my mother on several occasions that I wanted to quit school and look for work as a domestic helper because I felt I was going nowhere with all my ambitions.

One day, a woman from the community told me point blank that most of the girls who came from that area could not go past form three before getting pregnant or eloping.

Monthly periods were the worst—I would walk all that distance with throbbing pain from period cramps and more often than not, the sanitary wear I could afford (mostly pieces of cloth) left my inner thighs bruised.

I didn’t have more than four decent changes of clothes, most of which were hand me downs from my maternal aunts, and had to share down to underwear with my elder sister.

Our alcoholic stepdad often took our school backpacks and either sold or exchanged them with something he could use, so most of the time we ended up using plastic bags to carry our school books.

Every day I would imagine myself in the following five years, with a great fear of failure, not having achieved a single of my dreams because the circumstances were just so gloomy for me to keep my dreams alive, but all the same I kept dreaming.

I started being very active at the Scripture Union (SU) Club in a bid to resuscitate my wounded hope, and that is when something that made a total overhaul to my dreams transpired.

One day, a group of student teachers came to our SU club to fellowship and share their stories with us. Among them was this tiny lady, very neatly dressed, with long hair and smelled divine.

She narrated how she had grown up in strikingly similar circumstances to mine, and I needed no one to tell me that life for her was better now.

Listening to her testimony, wide-eyed, I began to imagine myself in a far better place, in college, neatly dressed, with long hair and holding up my own, with younger girls looking up to me.

Fast forward many years later, on a different career path, I became that young woman—pursuing my tertiary education soon after which I got a job in my dream working place-the newsroom.

Recently, I came across a video of Dr Tererai Trent, a Zimbabwean woman who hid her dreams in a tin, under a rock, was inspired by another woman, an aid worker, who came to her village when she was in really difficult circumstances, asked her about her dreams, and inspired her to pursue them.

Earlier this year, when the movie Black Panther came out, I listened to renowned Zimbabwean-born actress Danai Gurira give a speech at an Essence event, narrating how, when she was still a kid, a Black American visitor to her school in Zimbabwe held her tiny face and told her she was beautiful, which gave her the confidence to go and be a force to reckon in Hollywood.

When I look at all these stories, I feel the power of representation, and how much our girls and young women need them. It has made me realize that indeed we think in pictures, and those images of inspiration are vitally necessary.

Had it not been that student teacher, whose name, no matter how hard I try to remember, I have totally forgotten, I probably would have given it all up, but the only things I remember is how nicely she was dressed, and how pleasant her scent was.

A few weeks ago, I stood at a Southern Africa regional platform, to speak about an organization I co-founded (Girls Speak Out), and how passionate I am about empowering the girl child through access to information and tech training, and guess whose words brought me to tears? My very own 11year old cousin!

She told me how proud she was that her big sister appeared on a big screen, fearless and eloquent but little did she know that I was nervous and anxious before and during the presentation—but there she was, drooling with pride and wanting to be like me.

All these moments always bring me back to the dusty rural paths I trekked every day, where after meeting that student teacher, I would imagine myself in a better, safer and happier place—the power of representation!

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

This story was submitted in response to #DayOfTheGirl.

Comments 10

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Jill Langhus
Oct 20, 2018
Oct 20, 2018

Hi Theresa,

Thanks for sharing your inspiring story. I'm glad your visualizations and hope weren't in vain. I hope you tell us more about your organization. Good luck with your story submission!

Hope you have a great day!

Theresa Takafuma
Oct 20, 2018
Oct 20, 2018

Hi Jlangus

Thanks for the encouragement. The image of inspiration indeed kept my hope alive during the difficult circumstances, and when I look back I can only marvel at how important the power of representation is.

About Girls Speak Out: It is a youth led media initiative that aims to develop the media, advocacy and coding literacy skills of young women between the ages of 14-24 living in Zimbabwe’s under-served communities through journalism, advocacy and code training, combined with civic leadership mentoring, designed to trigger community activism and bring about social change.

For more information about the organisation, kindly follow this link: www.girlspeakout.co.zw
Our Twitter handle is: @GSO_ZW
Facebook: Girls Speak Out

Kindest regards

Theresa

Jill Langhus
Oct 20, 2018
Oct 20, 2018

You're welcome:-) That's very cool. Yes, visualization can be so powerful, as well as the student teacher/earth angel that also helped:-)

Great! Thanks for letting me know about your organization's mission as well as your website, and social media links. I will follow them.

Hope you have a great day!

Olutosin
Oct 24, 2018
Oct 24, 2018

My darling sister, you just shared my story too.
May you soar higher. Amen

Theresa Takafuma
Oct 29, 2018
Oct 29, 2018

Thank you dear sister. We look and wonder how we got over those times, don't we? May your days be filled with happiness.

Marie Abanga
Oct 31, 2018
Oct 31, 2018

What a story dear Theresa,

We thank God and the resilience you had

Loads of love

Marie

Theresa Takafuma
Nov 08, 2018
Nov 08, 2018

Thank you Marie. It was a tough period, but I got over.

Thank you
Love,
Theresa

Muchoh Florence
Nov 09, 2018
Nov 09, 2018

Hy Theresia, thanks for sharing your story with us.

Theresa Takafuma
Nov 21, 2018
Nov 21, 2018

Thank you Florence. I hope it inspires others.

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Mar 08
Mar 08

Dear Theresa
This is a wonderful write up full of inspiration.I love this story.Hope it gets to the final stage of award.
Love
Veronica
Cameroon