There are many things that struck me about the young woman I interviewed that made her seem mature beyond her age. And at the same time, she was warmly playful and quite attentive. She also came to school on her day off, to meet with me. She is 15 years old and knew she was born in March but did not know what day. Her dream is to become a doctor that will treat people, an ambition inspired by life events. “Because my mom is always sick and there is no one to treat her, maybe I could treat her myself.”
She is the first girl, third born of five. When we spoke about support she said “my mother, she is always there for me, I do love her. She brought me here (to the school), she is my hero. And my teachers, they are always there for me and help me.” The composed young woman smiled as she sat across from me. She had waited patiently for me to finish talking to the other students. When I gave her the camera and explained to her the choice of participating, she was thrilled to be included. She had never used a camera before and quickly understood the use of a flash.
We talked further while I walked down the road to catch a tuk-tuk, a three wheel scooter-taxi, in the opposite direction to which she was walking. It was during this time, that she opened up and disclosed that not only is the distance far to school but she feels affected by the screaming and alcohol abuse in the village. She said people give her courage to walk to school but that she is sometimes afraid. She shared problems at home and how this upsets her. “My mom is sick.” It was clear she felt caught in the middle and helpless to change her home situation. It is her story that resonates with me and brings up my own feelings of helplessness.