The story of Mma Mariama
In the verdant heart of Zongo village lived a woman of resilience and indomitable spirit, Mma Mariama. The mother of twelve, her life bore the imprints of joy, struggle, and sorrow. Despite losing five children - three to the grasp of sickness, and two never making it into the world - Mma Mariama forged on, her spirit unbroken.
Each child was her lifeline, her beacon of hope against the stark realities of life and death in the village. They were her fortress against the throbbing pangs of hunger, the tyranny of malaria, and the grief of loss. Each child was also a hand to help work the farm, a legacy her late husband left behind, and the beginnings of a reciprocal circle of care she hoped would extend into their adult years.
In Zongo, children were born with the African Tax - a responsibility to care for their kin when they found economic stability. Mma Mariama's dream was that her children would shoulder this tax, taking care of their elderly mother when they came of age. To achieve this, she committed herself to their education, hopeful that one day they would repay her dedication with their support.
Despite their humble learning environment under the mango tree, using stones for seats and the bare earth as a desk, her children embraced the British curriculum taught in the village school. They sang passionately about London bridges and apples - symbols alien to their surroundings, and memorized textbooks in preparation for the big exams. These exams were their gateway to a brighter future, an escape from the harsh realities of life.
Her son, Kofi, bravely faced the national exams. But the examinations failed to consider the peculiarities of his situation - a child from Zongo studying often on an empty stomach, in suboptimal conditions. The rejection letter broke Kofi's heart, but more so his mother's. Mma Mariama was forced to watch as one of her lifelines was pulled back into the cycle of rural poverty.
Next, came Ama, a vibrant, inquisitive girl who danced through the same challenging system that Kofi did. Despite minor setbacks, she emerged victorious, winning a place at a school in the city. However, the cost of her continued education was beyond Mma Mariama's means.
Hope came in the form of a gentleman who promised to pay for Ama's education. Grateful, Ama found herself caught between assisting her mother and investing in her future with the help of her newfound benefactor. The echoes of her story remain incomplete, her future uncertain.
Meanwhile, Mma Mariama found herself balancing the demands of her remaining children, a grandchild, and the increasing pressures from Kofi, now betting on soccer for his big break. Her farmland, once a source of income, now lay barren due to adverse weather patterns and a lack of fertilizers.
In a bid to sustain her family, Mma Mariama turned to selling firewood and making charcoal, believing that she was merely using what nature provided. Little did she know that her survival strategy was one mirrored by over 500 million smallholder farmers worldwide, all caught in a similar struggle to survive.
How then, can Mma Mariama transition to a regenerative lifestyle without external assistance?
Stories from Dream Village Ghana
Dream Village Foundation
Dream Village Ghana
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