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To Reach the Water
I wake up, I walk and walk, I grab the water and walk again.
My name is Asha and I am 17 years old. My daily routine is different from what you would consider a regular teenager. In their life you would go to school learn how to read and learn about the world. In my life you fetch water every other day so your family will not be thirsty, you learn how to take care of a family so that when you come of age you will be ready.
I have been living in a village named Rhonda which is within Solwezi all my life. Up until my seventh birthday I did not know what culture and religion was, I hardly knew America existed. I thought of it as a faraway fairy land because no one ever told me different.
Rhonda was a very poor village and because of that there was no education system for the children or adults. As a child I was curious I wanted to know where things came from and why they were there. So on my seventh birthday When I came back from fetching the water my father picked me up and carried me inside. My friends and family were crammed into our little shack. Father got one of the chickens for us to feast on and the party lasted long into the night.
At dusk the next day Mother comes rushing into the house with the bowl of fruits still steadily cradled in between her hip and arm. She whispers to Father who was sharpening the hunting spears. They both smile to each other and turn to me. Mother had been given permission to start a school for children between ages 7 and 14. Little did I know she was sent away by her parents to go to school in Kapiri Mposhi. She spent 10 years in school.
When she moved back to Solwezi she wanted to start a school but but she got pregnant with my older brother Kwasi. After That, she needed to help provide for me and my two older brothers. Now that my brothers are old enough to help father hunt and I was an appropriate age to attend school she asked Chief Tau if she could start a school and he said yes!
School was set up to start in september, we didn't have a building or shelter to sit under so we sat under the grand tree that is in the middle of the village. On average 12 kids showed up to classes. Mother was very flexible with tardiness and absences. She was sometimes tardy to her own class. This is because even though she started a school she still has a job to do and so does everyone attending the school.
One week in december we were learning about kings, queens, prime ministers and all the other rulers of the world. Then Fabayo, a very annoying and rude 10 year old asks if we live like kings. Mother laughs so hard she starts shaking then as if it were a contagious disease the laughter spreads throughout the room until everyone is rolling on the floor and holding their stomachs to try and keep the laughter in. When the laughter trickles to a stop I realize that Mother was the only one who knew why we were laughing. She was the only one who had ever been outside of the village and heard the stories.
At the end of April we started getting ready for our continuation and summer break. Mother had us reciting one of the traditional dances to perform for the entire village. The girls wore feathers and big skirts while the boys beat of drums that are hung around their neck. We must have practiced for hours, twirling and spinning like the branches of the great tree. I would practically run to fetch the water so I could spend as much time as I could practicing for the celebration.
April 24, 2006. 16 young educated poor africans walked out to see that their entire village had crowded into the ceremonial grounds to see their graduation. At seven years old this was the most important thing in my life. We walked smiled and danced, and shook hands with family and friends. At the end of the night Mother stood up to make a toast, “ At the end of the day we may not look like kings or act like kings or have the riches of a king but i know that inside each one of these beautiful young minds is a treasure that no king has ever had and that is a passion for what they believe in. It has been hard but it was worth it to see all that we have accomplished.”
Next year I will be leaving my village to find a job that will pay so that I can get into college and I owe it all to my Mother and the speech she made 10 years ago.