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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday, 18 July 2008: Travelling light

Just a few hours left before the shuttle comes to pick me up. My little cabin bag is packed and it is almost the same size as my handbag (US purse). I am a minimalist when it comes to packing: just three light summer dresses, two crotcheted bolero's, undies, pj's, toiletries, camera, conference paper, my pocket Bible and books to read. Then it's just the outfit and shoes I shall be wearing. After many trips abroad, I know that travelling light is best. Cabin luggage means I don't have to wait for the bags to arrive at the airport and no chance of luggage going astray. That's a nightmare I have experienced several times.

Woofs are safely deposited at the kennels and they both rushed off quite happily to the pens.

While I'm away, I thought you might enjoy reading one of the life stories which form part of my conference paper. M's story of loss and recovery.

M. is a 53 year old unmarried woman. She is blind in one eye, a visible disfigurement. The eldest of six children (including three sons), M.' s parents were unskilled workers. Early in her childhood she conceptualised her predicament of grinding poverty whose resolution lay in obtaining an education. She recounted her enjoyment of her schooling at a small rural primary school. M.’s first loss was partial blindness caused by the neglect of an eye injury which occurred when chopping firewood without adult supervision, a task delegated to her by her parents. Her second loss was when her parents forced her to drop out of school after her seventh year of schooling and to enter domestic service to support her brothers’ education. This action taken without any consultation was tantamount to dooming M. to a life of poverty. She felt betrayed and helpless. M. ‘recovered’ by enrolling herself in an adult learning centre where she slowly “collected” enough subjects to obtain a school leaving certificate. Another threat to her self-actualisation emerged in a marriage arranged by her parents without her consent. This time M. was sufficiently empowered to resist their plan: her school leaving certificate had enabled her to improve her employment position to that of shop assistant in an upmarket city department store. This meant that she enjoyed some financial independence although still living at home with her extended family. M.’s epiphany occurred when a regular customer at the store pointed out to her that she was eligible for admission to higher education and suggested her enrolling in a distance education institution. M.’s adjustment of her identity is reflected in her words: “And to think, I was just a shop girl!” With the assistance of this customer, “an angel”, M. obtained a government grant and entered a local teacher’s training college, this time with her father’s blessing. After her subsequent graduation and employment as a teacher, she enrolled at a distance education university and eventually achieved an undergraduate degree and thereafter two postgraduate degrees in education. Today not only does M. see her educational achievements in terms of recovery from her losses, but also as a vindication of her determination to obtain an education and a reversal of the injustices suffered at the hands of her family. Before their deaths, her parents expressed regret for their earlier decisions; ironically none of her siblings made use of their educational opportunities which their sister had financed at such great cost. M. has rationalised and forgiven her parents’ actions which she ascribes to their own lack of education. M. currently holds a senior management post in her school and owns her own house. She “loves” her job; regards her alma mater as her “school” and her lecturers as her “mothers”. She is openly proud of her accomplishments and regards herself as a competent and respected professional and a financially independent woman.

18 comments:

Eleanor said...

To whoever comes a-knocking at my cottage door while I am away, thank you for the visit! Back on July 27, I will have lots of photos to post! Love you all! Eleanor

Kathleen Grace said...

What a wonderful story. It is always a joy to hear of someone who has fought the odds and pulled themselves up out of poverty and despair. Good for M.!

Vanessa Greenway said...

Thanks for stopping by! I love the picture of your cottage! I also enjoyed your blog! Lovely puppies! Wishing you a great time on your trip! Vanessa

Susan said...

Very uplifting story Eleanor and many thanks for the kind comment left this morning ... I look forward to more details of both life in The City of Light My most fav city) and your conference ... many kisses for Trist and Gal. xo S, Winn &Les Chats

willow said...

Thank you for sharing this inspiring story, Eleanor. I think angels are more common than we know.

You certainly DO pack light! I always end up taking way more things than I need. I need you to coach me in packing lite 101.

Fun to have you stop by my place in route. Safe travels!

Willow x o

pammiejo said...

A great story, Eleanor. Ahhh - Paris - I envy you. One day I will go too - I know it! Wishing you "God's Speed!"

Carrie said...

Have a wonderful trip. May God provide you with travelling mercies.

Mary said...

Thanks for stopping by while waiting to 'get going' - always a nervous time! Have a fabulous trip and will look forward to photos and narrative.

The story of M. left me in tears - of sadness and then joy! How wonderful that this woman took back her life and became a happy, productive person. I just know she is passing on good things to others who may have given up - education is the MOST important thing in life!

Wish I was going too and could hear you present this paper - just know it is going to be a fabulous, and rewarding, occasion for all those present in Firenze!!

Best of luck Eleanor - stay safe and enjoy - and give us more tips on packing light, now a necessity!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Have a wonderful, wonderful time. And remember to stop in at Laduree for pastries!!

steviewren said...

What a wonder spirit this woman has. Her story is an inspiration. I hope you will post more of these stories of empowerment.

I stayed and browsed here a while. Each post is thought provoking. I will be back to read more. Enjoy your trip.

Rhondi said...

Eleanor
Hope you enjoy the conference!
Hugs, Rhondi

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

What a tremendous story, the story of M. Talk about defying the odds, about immense determination, and about a lonely struggle with little or no family support. That she was able to grasp early on that education was the only thing that would lift her out of grinding poverty, is a testament to her innate intelligence. Wonderful to read that she has come so far, and owns her own home. IT has been said so often, and for so many years, that the only way to lift the third world out of its desperate straits is to educate its women. Period. Nothing else has worked, and nothing else will ever work.

Bon Voyage dear Eleanor, and I hope your trip is full of fun, good food, good times, and a dash of adventure!

Betty said...

Eleanor,
It has been a pleasure to peruse your lovely blog and to read how many things we have in common though we live thousands of miles apart.....

I came to your blog via Pamela Terry's blog, after reading her comment on my dear friend Marion's Welsh blog....isn't it amazing this 'internet era' we live in? It boggles my mind that I am able to communicate with like minded ladies from all over the world....sitting in my home....

My faith, family, friends, flowers and three cats are such blessings...Betty @ Country Charm

Sreddy Yen said...

Wow teacher, you certainly do pack light~! When I left for France, I took 12kgs with me, but when I came back, I had 25kgs! Thank you for your comments that you leave on my blog. Bon voyage~! Sreddy

Grand Life said...

We've had company for 2 weeks and it's been delightful but I miss visiting my blogging friends. The upside is I can spend many minutes going through previous posts on blogs I enjoy. I love that your going to Paris. I hope to return before I get much older. I loved your story about M. and the post's about your childhood and the 60's--Twiggy and the Beatles. On my 64th last year I went searching for the "song" also. Discovered I could only find it on one CD--Sgt. Pepper's". Couldn't imagine why it wasn't on more of their albums. Have a great time in Paris. If you have time to to the "Shakespeare Bookstore".
Judy

Tracy said...

Hi, Eleanor! Wishing you safe and very happy travels...See you when you get back :o) ((HUGS))

KarenHarveyCox said...

What a wonderful ending to a difficult situation. I enjoyed reading M.'s story and look forward to read the others. Have a safe trip. Karen

SilverBell Cottage said...

Hope you had a dashing grand time and made it back safely.
Alexandra