I have always enjoyed school and can’t imagine a life without education. Over the years, one of the key things I have learned through oral history interviews is about the struggle of my family in obtaining an education. My great Uncle Washington Moore who was born in 1900 talked about being able to only attend school through the third grade because he had to work to help care for his family. My maternal grandfather, Minor Thornton, who was born in 1913 in NC, was also the oldest of his family, and had to stop school in the third grade. Both Uncle Washington and my Granddaddy lived during a time when work took priority over education. Today, in America, we have opportunities for a free education. However, as I learn more about my family in Africa, I find that even today, many of them live in a society where work takes priority over education.
The video below is about the life and educational opportunities of a 10-year-old girl named Mariama Samu, who lives in Cassaca, Guinea Bissau. Like Uncle Washington, my paternal grandfather, and other ancestors, little Mariama has to rise early to help with household chores. However, the installation of a water well by the UNICEF organization, has made her chores somewhat easier. Now Mariama is able to attend school where she is progressing extremely well.
I am fortunate to have advanced further educationally than my ancestors. My first step was to obtain a high school diploma, which none of my direct ancestral line had ever completed. Later, I completed both bachelor and masters degrees.
UNICEF: Giving girls a better education in Guinea-Bissau