One of the sponsored children came to give me her school report this week. She was about to accompany her mother, who is already in her sixties, to Colombia for medical treatment. We had an interesting conversation, which illustrates some of the ways people think around here.
Franci is seventeen, and about to start her final year of secondary school.
Me: How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Franci: I have 6 sisters and three brothers. The oldest is forty years old. My mother was 46 when she had me. I am the youngest.
Me: And how many nieces and nephews do you have?
Franci: Too many to count! There must be more than 20 of them. One of my sister´s just had a new baby boy. He is very cute with big wide eyes and beautiful curly hair. I¨m also a great-aunt.
Me: What do you hope to do when you finish school?
Franci: I hope to study nursing at University. I will need to work during the day and study in the evenings to be able to do that. My family tells me it is impossible. None of them have gone to University, but I would really love to be a professional.
Me: What age do you think you would like to be married?
Franci: Oh, maybe about 30. I want to complete my studies first, otherwise I won´t be able to. My sisters have all had children very young, and they are all trapped. It´s OK if your husband turns out to be kind, but most men are very controlling. They don´t let them out of the house. If they are mistreated they cannot run away because they have no means of making a living and providing for their children. I want to be able to have my own career and income.
I haven´t had a boyfriend yet. My sisters tell me not to until I have finished studying, because once you have a boyfriend babies come along! But some girls at school ask me if I am gay because I haven´t had a boyfriend yet. (Franci laughs). I just want to wait.
I do want to have a husband. I hope he will be very romantic and understanding. And I do want to have children, but just two or three. I want to be able to provide for them well and give them a good education.
I was talking to a woman the other day who has four children and wants to have a fifth. But I asked her why she was going to have another when she cannot even feed the ones she has. She doesn´t see the importance of educating her children.
Me: What are you doing during your school holidays?
Franci: I have been doing a course at the evangelical church because I want to be baptised. Now I´m going to accompany my mother to Colombia because my sister lives there and can help her get free health care.
Me: I look forward to seeing you again when classes are about to begin again.