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GLORIA MARANDU

Co - founder

I see beyond the facade and smiles, I see it


Too often, we underestimate the power of the smallest act of caring, and how one small act of kindness or compassion could have the potential to turn a life around. 


For me, this lesson was moulded into me at a very early age. Although, I would love to take all the credit and say that I was innately charitable, empathetic and benevolent … this wouldn’t be a true indication of how i got to be. Truthfully, my love for people and helping was ignited by my mother. As a little girl, my mom made it a point to show me and my siblings how undeniably fortunate we were in comparison to many children in our community. Gratitude, kindness, and generosity, became the culture in the Marandu household. While other children were busy  enjoying their Christmas breaks, over-eating, unwrapping gifts, and celebrating, we would visit the villages my parents grew up in and spread the joy by giving clean clothes, food, and celebrations … so children in less fortunate situations wouldn’t be left out. 


Over the years my mother would frequently share her story with us. She would share, how she grew up in the village with her grandparents, how she shared a bedroom with a cow, how she would have to cut the grass, feed the cow, milk the cow, fetch water from the river for cooking and bathing all before walking 5 km to school. She shared how when times got hard and there wasn’t enough food, how her and her grandmother would look for scarps or beg their neighbours. She shared how she was tyrannised, mistreated and bullied at school because her clothes had holes, or smelled or because she got good grades. 


Unfortunately, this tale is not uncommon. But, unlike most, my mother was one of the lucky ones. She was given the chance to go to primary and secondary school where she applied herself and received a scholarship to advance her education beyond secondary school. 


As an adult, I constantly think to myself, what would have happened to my mother if she didn’t receive that opportunity … in actuality , I do know. As this was her mother’s - my grandmother’s story. My grandmother was one of the unlucky girls that grew up in extreme poverty. At 6th grade, her parents stood in the way of her pursuing her education and she was taken out of school to help generate an income for the household. Denied of opportunities she ended up married at age 15 with 9 children. She was married 4 times, as she constantly found herself in abusive relationships. Although her family was fragmented, luckily some of her children had the opportunity to attend school and with that came opportunities. Today her children and grandchildren are breaking the cycle of poverty everyday. With some being entrepreneurs, or working in tourism, hospitality, NGOs or being educators. Proving that if children gain a good education, the cycle of poverty can be broken. It is for this reason, that It has become a passion of mine to convince African women children and youth about the value of education and vocational training, especially for girls. 

 
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