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PAR Girl Mothers|College of Arts and Sciences Gender and Women's Studies Program

Voices of Girl Mothers

"We were facing rejection at home and felt that if we were able to support ourselves and our children then things would get better at home.  We would also be able to pay for food and medicines for the children."

"Before this project came, I bought kerosene by the pint, but now I buy it by the gallon."

Esther Greene in the metal shop.
Esther Greene in the metal shop.

"The drama that we did during our meeting instilled in my mind a sense of how to relate to other people.  I now feel much better with them."

"We did a drama about what it was like when we came back from the bush and people shied away from us.  The drama also reflected the alienation that we felt when we came back.  We did our play to the community and they said that they wanted to join us and join in our activities.  Before others were shy of us and now they talk upright to us.  We used the drama to bring those who were shy of us closer again."

"I sell fish, pepper, onion and other condiments. I sell before going to school. Every month I make a profit of fifty thousand Leones. I use this money pay my school fees and take care of my child.'

"Our meetings have created a sense of one-ness among each other and now we share our burdens.  We are each others' sisters."

"Before I didn't know how to be around friends.  But now I can be with my friends and laugh and share things.  Before the meetings I was ashamed to be with friends, but we had a workshop together and that helped me know how to be together."

"The person you see before you today is not the same as you would have seen before the project.  Before I was sad.  I was alone and had no one to advise me.  But when[ the agency] came, they helped me learn to take care of myself and I can care for my children now. I learned not to think too much and to forget about the past.  Before when I was alone I would always think about the past.  Now that I have friends, I don't think about the past as much.  I can have fun now.  I talk with the girls who dropped out of the project earlier because they wanted money quickly, and I tell them, forget about the money for a moment because the help I got is about how to make myself happier."

"The money from my livelihood (palm oil production) has helped improved relationship with my parents. Since I can now meet some of my needs".

"Before I used to sit alone and think about the past.  But now when I sit alone, my friend [in the project] comes over and takes my hand and gets me to play or sing with her and I don't think about the past anymore."

"I think now, looking at how things have improved so much, my family must be embarrassed about how they used to treat me and my daughter.  Before, my brothers and sisters would greet my mother but ignore my child and me.  Now they even give small money to my child.  I'm glad of how my family is now.  It feels so good."

"My mother used to abuse me and blame me for my children, but now I make soap that the community buys, my mom sees me better."

"Before my uncle never talked to me.  But recently, he came to visit me in the market where I was selling kerosene and he advised me about where the best places to sell in the community are and how I can look after the money."

"So little ended up helping so much.  The little you gave me made me want to take better care of myself.  I now try to get good clothes and wash my skin and brush my hair and eat good food.  The little bit you gave me made me try harder."

"The money itself was not such a big deal, but from within I feel a change.  The money I make now is not for drinking or smoking."

"They [my children] were very thin before, but now they look good."

"The community sees great changes in us. What we were not able to do before, we can do for ourselves now.  Our businesses are going well.  They admire us now and ask us advice.  They even ask us to lend them money!"

"Before the PAR came, I was not considered worthy in the community.  If there was fighting and I was walking nearby, someone would automatically blame me even if I was not at fault.  Now if the community sees me in conflict or if something is stolen, they do not blame me.  They see me taking care of myself and they see my business is going well and so when I complain of something, they listen to me and believe my side of the story.

"Before, when I bought flour by the cup, I would often beg from my neighbors to borrow.  But now that I buy flour by the bag, my neighbors borrow from me!  I feel proud to give them help."

"I've changed.  I can send my son to school and I can pay my hospital bill.  I used to sit around and look for men to help me and now I can stand by myself." 

"I used to not know how to write my name.  My friends would tease me because I couldn't write my name.  But now I can write my name and I go to school."

"We see a vast difference in the girls now.  Before there were many family disputes with parents or boyfriends.  Also there were fights in the community because girls would take credit and not pay it back or they would steal. Girls were seen as a threat to families because they would go with married men and snatch husbands.  The parents had given up on these girls.  But now they are fully engaged and they are not creating any problems.  They are more accepted by parents and community.  I see a lot of potential in the girls now.  They can meaningfully contribute to this community."

"We are monitoring what they learn so that they can help others.  We're not going to let the program end"

"I do hair dressing. I built a saloon near my house. I usually plait customers with their ordinary hair and also join false hair. I can design hair with styling gel and raps. Each day I go home with fifty thousand Leones."

"Now we can boast of being useful."

"They now know how to talk, what to say, how to behave."

"The project changed the lives of the girls and the community. It made the girls to know their rights and sustain themselves."

"Through the project, I am fully reconciled with my parents. Even the community and people I was staying with admire me."

"I have stopped going out with boys. I have changed and they have accepted me. And the business I do I am able to support my family."

"PAR girls can now read and write. Sometimes they have picnics, I am so proud of them. It has been a very dull community, but it has become very active."

"Sometimes the gara group would cook together, eat together, and it helped us be one" ("and even helps us solve problems")

"We act out plays to show how a girl mother has suffered in the war. From the sensitization they have received, they should understand our situation now"

"The community is embracing us now. We used to be idel, people would point fingers at us, and we were not respected. The community now respects us and doesn't point fingers."

"Men will continue to take advantage if she doesn't finish her education and earn an income."

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