I wrote this back in 2011 and thought I would repost it today. Last night someone told me of the possibility of speaking infront of hundreds, even thousands of people and I told them I couldn’t. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “If you can believe it, you can achieve it.” His statement made me think of Dr. Tererai Trent.
When I was growing up I was afraid of the dark. Up until age 11, I remember climbing onto my parents’ bed. Of course they weren’t happy about waking up to me at their feet, either side of the bed or between them. However, they allowed it, and never stopped or scolded me. I’m not sure what it was about the dark that made me afraid, but all I know is, the dark, a long with silence was terrifying. I never saw anything out of sort, but I dreaded being alone. To an extent I still fear the dark but once I’m comfortable and I’m used to the environment there are no worries… Not knowing what my future holds, tents to be a bit nerve rocking at times, but whenever fear of the unknown resurfaces, I think of Dr. Tererai Trent.
I first saw this amazing woman, on The Oprah Winfrey Show a few months ago, when Oprah was doing updates on her most favorite guests. When I watched Tererai’s journey, it ignited my spirit and inspired me unlike any other story I’ve seen or heard.
For those of you who haven’t heard about Tererai, her story began in a very poor village in rural Zimbabwe. Her father beliefs were put to action when the boys were the only ones allowed to go to school, because they were considered breadwinners, while the only thing the girls had to look forward to, is marriage. However, Tererai wanted an education, so she learned to read and write from her brother’s book and secretly did his homework. When her bother’s teacher found out, she begged Tererai’s father to let her learn. He agreed, and she went to school for two terms before she was forced to marry at age 11. After her husband found out about her hope for an education, he would beat her. At 18 and a mother of three. In 1991 a visitor, Jo Luck, from Heifer International, gave her words of hope after Tererai mentioned her dreams of coming to the Untied States and getting her degrees. Jo’s words, simple, but powerful, “If you desire those things, it is achievable.” Sank into Tererai’s heart, and never left.
At 20 years-old Tererai’s mother encouraged her to write her dreams on a piece of paper, to place them inside a tin foil and bury it in the earth. That’s exactly what she did; in a pasture she herded cattle. She went even further, and covered them under a rock… She didn’t just place them there, she believed in them.
In 1998 Tererai, her husband and now five children immigrated to Oklahoma. Within three years, she earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education. In 2003 her husband was deported for abuse. However that didn’t stop her from obtaining her master’s degree that very same year. She later, went on to receive her Doctorate. After every achievement, she returned to where she burned her tin, dig, and checked each goal that has been accomplished.
In 2009 Tererai, now remarried, brought the same gift of hope she received from Jo Luck many years before, to the girls of her village. On a trip in 2009 she gave the girls pens, paper and tiny metal tins.
There were many people along the way, who raised Tererai’s spirit and reminded her that it was possible, even though her humble beginnings made it seemed impossible…. I bet it also took a lot of hard work, and inner strength, as she was told, maybe more often than not, that she shouldn’t or couldn’t, but she did.
The situation we are in may be by chance, but to stand still, or to complain without change, is always our choice. If we haven’t already, we should dig deep within ourselves and bury whatever it is that moves us, and work hard at making it a reality.
I remember myself at age 11, afraid of the dark, or even getting upset because I had to read before I got a chance to watch cartoon. To now, being afraid of the unknown, and sometimes not fighting hard enough, for the things I would love to achieve. Whenever I think of Tererai I feel ashamed of these feelings and memories. It reminds me that I need to wake up and step into my future with hope, desire and drive. I should have faith in the unknown… To never be afraid of the dark, but light a fire within, and keep it burning at all cost.