Ten days ago I thought I was going to die. After three days of severe bleeding, I was rushed from my small village of Jokibu to the government hospital in Kenema—the third largest city in Sierra Leone. I was only conscious for ten minutes of the two hour motorbike ride. I woke in the hospital, with my daughter by my side. Through the stream of tears pouring down her white cheeks, I knew my battle was not over.
I had tumors on my ovaries. The only option was surgery to remove my ovaries and uterus—the parts that identify me as a woman. In my country, most women who have yet to bear children would refuse the surgery, even if that meant death. Children define women here and to not have them means you will never marry.
My life is different than the other women in my country because of OneVillage Partners. In 2009, I was one of five women to receive OVP’s first women’s loan. Since then, I have grown my business from OVP’s initial loan of $125 USD to larger than $2,000. My business is my focus. Despite not having a husband, I have many children all over the world. Even though I did not birth them in a traditional sense, I cared for them greatly during their time in Sierra Leone. They are my OVP ‘pikin’ (children, in Krio, Sierra Leone’s lingua franca). OneVillage Partners gave me a reason to survive and one beautiful white daughter that forced me to survive the last ten days.
Tomorrow I will be discharged from the hospital. I will never be able to have children but I have my business and I have my OVP pikin. They have all sent me letters of support. Ben said he is praying for me, Aaron shared his favorite memories, Eirene praised my cooking, and ten others took the time to share their sympathies. Tears flowed down my cheeks as my daughter read me the letters. After wiping away the tears, we looked at each other and laughed. We knew the other patients were jealous.
The next few months of recovery will not be easy but every day I thank God for the blessings that OVP has given me. I will return home, expand my market, and care for my OVP pikin.