Not too many years later, one of my sisters became pregnant, and I became the proud aunt of twin girls. But when my nieces were only six, not only did their mother – my sister – tragically die, but so did their father.
There was no question in my mind. I was taking in those little girls and raising them as my own.
I was only a school teacher, which you might imagine paid very little, but I made up my mind that I would find the money to care for my nieces, who I now called my daughters.
So, to earn a little more income, I decided I’d start a small business, and that’s what I’d like to tell you about today.
It has been almost 15 years since I started my business. I would sew baby clothing, and then every Tuesday I’d take the garments to the local hospital in Bor, where women would get their check-ups. They were prime candidates for my products! And, I used the profits to buy milk for the girls. I’d also save a little to buy more material and to give to people I met who were really struggling to care for their families.
My twin girls attended the University of Juba in Khartoum and Sudan University. And, I just couldn’t have been prouder of them! And one of the girls got married and had a baby girl, but that didn’t stop her from her studies!
But, with her marriage, I faced another challenge. You see, in Sudan, when a girl gets married, her family is the one who buys all of her household goods for her to start her home. We don’t have American bridal showers here. And, the bride’s family also hosts a feast in the new husband’s house. The bride brings the lamb and other food to the feast and the entire community will come to welcome her.
I was so sad when she went to her new home with no household items, no lamb and no food for a welcome feast. And that is why I worked even harder at my business. To provide for my girls, whatever their needs might be. I even expanded my business and am now sewing bed sheets, chair covers and table cloths.
Eleven years ago, I joined the Mothers’ Union Literacy Program, and since I was trained as a school teacher, I’ve been able to use these skills to become a Mothers’ Union trainer. Unlike most trainers, I’ve had to work alone a bit, traveling all over the Diocese of Renk, but I am committed to do that. I love teaching and encouraging other women, so that they too can support their families.
Rebecca Adaw Ricek
Mothers' Union Trainer, Diocese of Renk