When I look back at my childhood, I realise that the short holiday visits to my grandma's home in the TESO region of eastern Uganda gave me lessons that have made me who I am today. I am able to empower fellow women and communities because of the random musings she shared about life, reminders of how i should behave, working alongside her during her personal errands and household chores and even in the occasional rebuke she gave when i erred!
To think that the lessons I got from my illiterate grandma's kitchen have enabled me contribute to the millennium development goals may seem like a far fetched story but any child who got a chance to live in a typical rural Ugandan household can relate............Today I would like to share this with someone out there who never got an opportunity for informal education such as mine.
- Environmental Conservation: whenever you eat a fruit from a tree that grows big enough to give shade, carry it along with you to any place without a similar tree and put on the ground (soil) so that the people and animals there can get similar fruit and shade (this whenever I would eat a mango or tamarind). To date I find myself carrying random seeds from my travels to try and plant them.
- Menstrual Health: In her own words when she found out that I had become woman....."Juliet, You are now a woman,no human being or animal should ever see your sanitary towels. Do not discard them anywhere lest a dog sniff them and you will never have children!" (my 11year old self actually believed this, only years later did she tell me that it was for my own good). It is now important to bathe twice a day and if there is ever a scenario where this is impossible, reserve water to drink and wash your "women's parts and your under clothes"
- Food for All: Never go to bed belching while the person next door is starving ..........If they are too proud to take hand outs, propose to them to cultivate your garden in exchange for food or money. And while they cultivate your garden join in! otherwise God will reduce your blessings.
- Economic Empowerment: A woman does not need only fancy clothes, jewelry, good food and a rich husband to make it in life. She needs to read all the books, to save money, to join a savings group, to learn a skill, to volunteer at a home for the needy and most of all to listen to her grand mother!!! Many times when my parents were faced with financial challenges especially concerning school fees or medical bills, my grandma would sell off her goats and some of her farm produce to support them. When each of my cousins was getting married, she offered them a cow so there children can always have milk.
- Water and sanitation: Do not urinate or dump waste near a water source, lest you use your own urine to cook. And if you find rubbish near the water source, do not be embarrassed to pick it up and dump it far away. And when you hear of community activities to clean the village, be the first to show up at the meeting point.
- Education: A person who has worked at something for a number of years is better than you - before you start it seek their advice; if they are unwilling to give it, pay attention to them as they go about their business. Do not stare, instead observe respectfully and learn. If they do not want you around them, go to the one who taught them, if they can not be found - seek divine intervention! In her own words - you can not solve a problem that you do not have.
- Conflict Resolution: Never take sides with someone who is clearly in the wrong, the tears of the oppressed are why many once affluent persons die a painful death (according to my grand mom they end up with all sorts of crazy diseases if corruption doesn't catch up with them first). Never part ways using conflict as a basis - that way you can always seek help from the person when you need it. If your partner continually uses their fists to resolve issues, separate them. You are not hand sewn to each other.
- Community development: God does not bless you with knowledge, skill or resources for you to hoard. Selfless share them with those who are less fortunate and your heart will always be in a happy place.
This post is a work in progress because my grandma and I are still walking this educational journey. For now I have to translate everything i have written as well as your responses so she can know exactly why her picture is on a computer.