Age 30, 4 children, Arts and Crafts

When you look at Irene you see a free woman. It’s in her eyes, it’s in her smile, it is in the way she carries herself and in the pride she takes in her work. Irene is no longer in captivity and neither is her voice. She has the freedom to express herself, and she has the freedom to do what she needs to do to support her family. This freedom allows her to speak more with her husband, and it has brought them closer. This freedom allows her to talk to others to be a supportive counsel and receive counsel in return. In these ways and more, life has changed.

Many women in this region stay at home, captive by fear of cultural norms and the fear of upsetting the imbalance of male dominated society. If a woman leaves the house, she becomes a victim of rumors. Irene hears the rumors about her as she heads to class each day – that she is wasting her time, that a woman educating herself is a woman neglecting her duties- but she does not allow herself to become a victim of them. Instead, they make her stronger and give her more purpose, and with this purpose, she finds freedom. In this freedom, she is finding respect.

Do not mistake Irene’s confidence with pride. Pride, she tells me, is dangerous. It keeps people from breaking the norm and taking a chance, and in this way it keeps people away from success and opportunity. Pride replaces humbleness, a quality that Irene displays well in her freedom as she tells me that she believes in the power of the center and that the more people that join, the more it will change the community and women’s lives. She never thought possible what is becoming a reality.

Irene’s advice: Allow yourself to be counseled and counsel others to focus on solutions and not problems

If you would like to help Irene and the other women in Kasaali find and hold on to their freedom, please donate here.


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