When I was a little girl and couldn’t fall asleep, my father would read to me about my namesake Rebekah from a faded pocket Bible. This name, he told me, means “bound.” After the Lord’s Resistance Army came through our village, causing widespread violence and destruction, we went to an Internally Displaced Persons camp. When the commotion of the IDP camp, the stench of uncertainty, and my mother’s soft widow’s sobs kept my eyes from rest, I felt the heavy meaning of my name wrap around my wrists and pin me to the hard dirt floor.
But now I am Rebekah and I am not bound. I am free. Each morning as I make a fire and kiss the dawn, my mother is already awake and looking over the neatly-kept record books of her goat business. She is my inspiration. She is my proof of possibility.
Just a few years ago, Mama, with the help of two other women and Village Enterprise, started the Cam-Cam Widows Association. Their goat-rearing business has grown from only three goats to more than 30. Sometimes my adopted sister Rose and I take our two younger siblings out to watch the goats. Each one, I tell my brother, is a different part of your future. “That little one, Abasi, will pay your school fees and that big one over there will build you a stronger roof.” Abasi giggles at the thought of a goat building his home but Rose, who lost both her parents, never laughs. She understands that these goats provide the income we need to purchase fresh fish and vegetables for dinner; it is the income we used to pay the hospital fees when she was sick from malaria last spring. She is going to be a doctor one day so that she can save lives. I am going to be a teacher so that I can teach other girls about possibilities.
Without the grant and business and savings training from Village Enterprise I would still be bound to poverty. My mother no longer cries at night. Now the firelight warms her smile as she puts the little ones — and then her record books — to bed. Thank you for helping my mother create a goat business and a future for my siblings and me.