|Mama Caroline Odubo|
Caroline told me more of her story yesterday, how her husband ran off with a mzungu from New Zealand and left her to raise the children on her own, how her father gave her a plot of land as an early inheritance, how she cut grass and tied it into bundles and sold it for those wanting to thatch the roofs of their houses.
"I paid my children's school fees through the grass growing freely around me," she said. "That was wisdom from God."
Caroline also cultivated the land, growing sweet potatoes, cassava, sorghum, and beans.
Somehow Caroline got hold of a copy of Treasure Island, and inside was a picture of Jim Hawkins sitting under a tree, contemplating his predicament. When Caroline saw that picture, she also happened to be sitting under a tree. Caroline stopped reading, stared at the picture, then looked up into the mango tree branches above her.
"This is my Treasure Island," she murmured. Caroline told her children, "We will get gold from this place, but we must work hard and not give up. From now on, we will call this place Treasure Island."
Caroline lived in a small grass thatched hut with her children, the chickens and the goats.
"All in one room?" I asked.
"Even the goats?" I persisted.
|Chobe National Park - Botswana|
"It was very difficult," Caroline said, shaking her head, "but 'Lak lyec negu won ungo' - the elephant's trunk, though it is heavy, cannot defeat the owner."
Caroline painted the outside of her mud hut, then wrote the words of that African proverb on the wall. "Every day I read those words and they encouraged me to push on."
Even though the challenge of raising her children single-handedly was great, Caroline refused to be defeated. Today, her children are doctors, lawyers, teachers and businessmen.
Whenever you feel discouraged or weary, remember the elephant's trunk, and the brave Ugandan woman who set her sights on greater things.
With God, all things are possible, even an island in a land-locked country.