It’s a theme that has got me thinking, for weeks, what really is the wealth of women. I began writing the first article some weeks ago, but I stopped, because I felt that wasn’t really my conviction and understanding about the wealth of women. I still don’t know if I am clear about this topic, but after some in depth reflections, I can only think of my mum. Yes, my mother is the only one who comes to my mind, right now.
You may wonder why, but truth is, I think the environment we grow up in really shapes our thinking! Particularly on this topic, my reflections on the wealth of women, revolve around her, the loving, caring, and strong woman who raised 6 of us to maturity, and bore the life-long grief of losing 2 of her off-springs, in circumstances she had no control off; disease.
You see, my mum was and still is one of the most beautiful women I know off; till today, her village still talks about how beautiful she was when growing up. I heard she had an Ethiopian descent…or at least that is what I like to tell myself, when people press to know my origin, in a country where one is judged harshly for being from a particular tribe. Forget about her blinding beauty! My mum comes to my mind because of something quite intangible.
My mum never saw the door of a classroom, back then, before the State of Emergency (Which led Kenya to attain its Independence) most African parents would not dare take their daughters to school. My mum’s only brother (may his soul rest in paradise) really wanted to take her to school. However, her mother (whom my siblings and I never saw, because my mum was orphaned as a very little girl, refused to let her go to school because she needed someone to help her fetch water. Because of house chores, she never went to school.
Married-off at the tip of her adolescence years, she bore 8 of us, and took such great care for us , from when she was a young girl to her senior years, because I was the very last-child, where the age-difference between my eldest brother and I was quite significant. Amidst drought, crunching poverty, violence, and disease, she remained steadfast on one goal, ensuring each one of us got an education, enough to ensure that we could all start our own informed journeys of economic freedom.
As if that was never enough, she often took in her relatives’ children, providing them with food and accommodation to ensure each one of them got an education. She is also one of the founding pillars of one of the most successful primary schools in my village. To this day, she tells young women and men in the village (including us her children who’ve heard this for years) “Education is the Key.” I must say, however, that she never goes beyond that. I’ve listened to her telling her grandchildren this, and all women and men who happen to pass by home. And yes, I agree with her short phrase.
My reflection then spreads out to my Aunty, who recently passed on (may her soul-rest in paradise). When we were composing her eulogy, everyone in the team narrated how she was generous, cooking meals in very large pots to ensure no child visited her and went back on an empty stomach. Everyone, young and old, friends of her children, friends of her grandchildren, and even us, her nieces, talked about her heavenly generosity with food and sometimes, money. I cannot forget, she raised up my mum.
This phenomenal woman was also a pillar to her family and community, where young and old went to seek wise counsel. It was beautiful to listen to young women church leaders, narrating how she held their hands and supported them in their journey of Leadership at the Community Level; how she would generously welcome Church leaders on pastoral visits to pass by her home and have a sumptuous meal. Of course, her generosity would not allow her to let the church leaders leave her compound without something to carry back home, for example, Green Bananas. Many, talked about her strict disciplinarian efforts to ensure all her children and grandchildren got an education. Her strength and courage are just an icing on her cake of extraordinary attributes.
When I examine deeper about these special women, who seem to have shaped my deep reflections about the “Wealth of Women” I can only think about two words: Love and Compassion. To these two golden words, please add the word “Unconditional.”
Indeed, I feel the “Wealth of Women” can possibly, best, be described by The Unconditional Love and Compassion of Women, across all boundaries, all barriers, all strife, all oceans, rivers, mountains, valleys, countries, nations, races, what else?
There’s just about one thing that binds women and which to me is the true definition of their Wealth. I think of Mother Teresa and her love and compassion for the destitute, poor, and dying souls of this world. The many tears she would cry, the trials she would painfully bear, to carry some love, hope, and light to those who laid in misery, dying lonely death, rejected and abandoned by everyone. I think about Princess Diana. I think about Michelle Obama, Oprah, Malala…I think of … (Please add the beautiful names of all women who truly inspire you with their Love and Compassion)
But most importantly, I think of my own dear sisters, on World Pulse, who inspire me to continue believing in my cause no matter how confusing and challenging it seems at times. I think of Olutosin, Phionah Musumba, Ch Urmila, Sophie Ngassa, Arrey Echi, Nakinti, Caroline, Jill, Amoit Idewa. Yes, I think of these sisters because they exude an extraordinarily amazing sense of Love and Compassion for their families, what they do, their communities, the girls and women whose lives they selflessly impact, through little and big efforts, but often while struggling to contain and surmount various challenges in their path. Their Love and Compassion, if it were to be a light, would blind all of us.
No, I have not forgotten. How do you do it Sister Zeph? Can your well of Love and Compassion for those girls, for Meerab and all her colleagues ever run out? I know it’s a definite NO.
I think of all of you phenomenal women on World Pulse, who are making baby steps in living your purpose of spreading Love and Compassion to fellow women and girls, Men and boys alike, and those who keep advancing, cracking your brains on the next Social Change Innovation. I think of all those phenomenal women, who hold this platform together, and keep it going and growing…because their Love and Compassion for us and the world has brought us here!
I think of my team at TAP Africa. I think of Susan, Fridah, Sofina, the incredible young women, who without their love and compassion for young people, across hills, valleys, and the dark alleys of informal settlements in Kenya, TAP Africa’s vision would not be gradually gaining root.
I think of the wrinkled and seemingly worn out faces of women in rural and remote parts of Kenya…yet amidst this, bright smiles readily draw from them, to brighten up your day, as they offer you a cup of water, show you direction, or just share with you their hope for their children.
I think of all the phenomenal women, who hold my hand at one point or another of my journey of Love and Compassion.
I think of Clara Michelle…yes, her lingering smile and bright eyes, spell out, Love and Compassion.
This to me, is truly the "Wealth of Women."
(I am eternally grateful to all of you fellow women, who inspire me with your Love and Compassion, because, it is that inspiration that informed my understanding and subsequent description of the “Wealth of Women”)
With Love & Compassion,