Featured Storyteller

UGANDA: What My Grandmother Taught Me

Juliet Acom
Posted August 29, 2018

Juliet Acom shares her grandmother's wisdom with the world.

“Informal education is wealth.

When I look back at my childhood, I realize the short holiday visits to my grandma's home in the TESO region of eastern Uganda made me who I am today.

To some, it may seem a far-fetched story that the lessons my illiterate grandmother taught me have allowed me to empower women and communities and contribute to international development goals. And yet, I am sure any child who had a chance to live in a typical rural Ugandan household can relate.

I share with you just some of my grandmother’s many words wisdom:

  1. Environmental Conservation: Whenever you eat a fruit from a tree that grows big enough to give shade, carry the seed along with you. When you come to a place without a similar tree, put it in the soil so that the people and animals there can have similar fruit and shade.  To date I find myself carrying random seeds from my travels to try and plant them, for my grandmother would tell me this whenever I would eat a mango or tamarind.

  2. Menstrual Health: When my grandma found out that I had become woman, she said, in her own words, "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!” (As an 11-year-old, I thought she was being literal. Only years later did she tell me that it was for my own good.) She said, “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."

  3. Food for All: Never go to bed belching while the person next door is starving. If they are too proud to take handouts, 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.

  4. 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 grandmother! 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 could always have milk.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 cannot solve a problem that you do not have.”

  7. 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).

  8. Community Development: God does not bless you with knowledge, skill, or resources for you to hoard. The selfless share these blessings with those who are less fortunate. When you share, your heart will always be in a happy place.

My grandma and I are still walking this educational journey, and so, these lessons are not yet a complete list. I cherish the time I spend with her each day, for she is proof that informal education is wealth, and that there is richness in our stories and our wisdom as women.


STORY AWARDS

This story was published as part of the #WealthofWomen event and the World Pulse Story Awards program. We believe every woman has a story to share, and that the world will be a better place when women are heard. Share your story with us, and you could be our next Featured Storyteller! Learn more.

Comments 15

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  • Tamarack Verrall
    Sep 04
    Sep 04

    Dear Juliet,

    How beautiful. Your Grandmother is so wise. I love that her advice includes caring for others, and for the earth long term. I believe strongly that it is the wisdom of women that is lacking in leadership everywhere. What a great photo. And how very special that you still have each other. I believe strongly that it is the wisdom of women that is lacking in leadership everywhere.

  • Stephanie Mah
    Sep 04
    Sep 04

    Hi Juliet,
    You grandmother was very wise in teaching you, it was as if she new you will Carry the masage out to the world. Thanks for sharing with us God bless you.

  • jlanghus
    Sep 05
    Sep 05

    Hi Juliet,

    Congrats on getting featured storyteller status again... good job!!!

  • Genial,
    Bonne éducation et toute fière de toi d'avoir partager votre histoire avec nous.
    Je voulais même partager si du moins tu m'accordes de le partager. Merci

  • Adanna
    Sep 05
    Sep 05

    Dear Juliet,

    Thank you so much for sharing. Your grandmother is indeed a wise woman.

    You know what? I have copied this so that I can read it everyday :)

    Love,
    Adanna

  • moses
    Sep 06
    Sep 06

    Well done Juliet, thank you for sharing such great lessons indeed your gradmother taught you well # you can still remember everything.Such lessons are very important in shaping our lives and they are the foundations for our development in every thing we do.# No man is an island sharing and caring for one another is good for our community growth.
    Thank you
    Greetings to your gradma
    Kisakye moses.

  • Hello, Juliet,

    These are wise words from a woman of wisdom. You are so blessed to have a grandma who pays guides you. Thank you sharing these nuggets of priceless wisdom to us. It reminds me of my grandmothers, too.

    Congratulations for being a Featured Storyteller! Yey!

  • I forgot to say please hug your grandma for me. My two grandmas had already passed away. I miss them. So please hug her for me. Treasure her while she is around. Hugs to you, too.

  • Ngwa Damaris
    Sep 07
    Sep 07

    This is great.i wish I had the opportunity to meet her too.:)I have learnt alot from these

  • Gulzaib Tareen
    Sep 10
    Sep 10

    Societies having low literacy are only at the mercy of informal education provided by all these elders.

  • Tarke Edith
    Sep 10
    Sep 10

    Hi Jullet
    Crongratulatiog sister for that great performance

  • Mem
    Sep 11
    Sep 11

    Juliet, thank you for this lovely story. I was thinking of my grandmother today as I unboxed some dishes she left me. Nanny didn’t say much but she did lead by example. Many of the same themes you picked up. Seems like our elders understand so well about helping others. I guess the more you see the more you realize how beautiful we all are when we lift each other up.
    Take care.

  • ARREY - ECHI
    Sep 12
    Sep 12

    Your grandma Juliet, Is one very wise woman. Thank you for sharing her wisdom with us on WorldPulse. Please do give her a hug for her wealth of wisdom she so generously shares. I so much agree with her.

    Love, Arrey

  • Ambassador4Christ
    Sep 13
    Sep 13

    What a beautiful grandmother you have. There should be more women like her. God bless you both!

  • zawadi
    5:10am
    5:10am

    hi Juliet
    Thanks for sharing with us such good lesson.God bless you