My daughter Michelle and I got to “shadow” a kenyan woman for a day to experience the culture first hand. Sumi was chosen for us. I have to admit, at first I was a little dissapointed because she’s a 17 year old girl. I wanted to shadow a mother. But as we got to know her better I realized she was the one for us.
Life for Sumi is not what she dreamed it would be. She attended elementary school and hoped to be able to continue her education through high school, but since it costs $300 a year to attend, her family had no choice but to discontinue her education. Both parents work in the city (we never met them) and she’s the head of the household. She’s in charge of 4 siblings. She has a brother her age in the same situation, but in a male dominated society, she does all the work. We got to her mud hut home and swapped the dirt floor. We gathered water at a nearby water hole. We went to her family agricultural lot where they plant their vegetables. We picked “greens” (more like “weeds” to me) to take back home for lunch that day. We smashed dry corn to make ugali (mushed corn). It took all morning just to do those things.
There was a moment that I will never forget: Michelle (16) is almost Sumis’ age. As I watched them working in the field side by side, I got an overwhelming feeling of sadness thinking about how their lives had turned out so differently. But I also felt gratitude for the opportunities Michelle has in this country. It was eye opening for her as well, realizing she has much to be grateful for.