A MOTHER’S SUN
The bright yellow luminary star of earth begins its ascension from the east in the north of Ghana. It shines bright and the sweat pores of Auntie Fati yields to the immense heat of the sun. It is barely 8am and temperatures are already soaring in their high thirties in a still yet intense atmosphere. Auntie Fati wipes off the sweat and instructs her 3 year old son, Nabil, to remain under the shade of the shea tree to minimize the effects of the pitiless African sun.
She has high hopes for his future, ignoring the fact that 2 in 10 children from her village, Jambosi, get to have any form of formal education. She counts herself lucky, having 2 of her 5 children in school. The oldest is in college and the one after him is in Senior High School. An incredible feat by a single mother in the dry hinterlands of Jambosi. Presenters of the local news fascinate her and she hopes that one day little Nabil will become a news reporter and appear on national television.
Her other kids, Awal 8, and Rakia 10, wander around the field, about 50 meters east from her spot, picking shea nuts into sacs. It is a competitive mission around this time of the year so all hands are on deck. Lost in the abyss of thoughts about the laborious task of carrying the sacs of nuts over 4 miles back to the house for sorting and processing, Auntie Fati stands still for 2 minutes straight. “Mama, kong kpe mang!” Nabil exclaims and brings her back to earth. He cries repeatedly “kong kpe mang” which translates to “I’m hungry.” She calls Awal and Rakia, whips koose and porridge out of her bag and eats a lovely breakfast with her kids. There, in that moment, in the delight of the meal with her kids, the love of a mother truly shines. As a mother living in Jambosi, the odds are massively stacked against her but she is doing her best to put her kids in a better position to succeed in the future.
Mothers are special in every way. Charged with the crucial task of nurturing the next generation. For rural women in northern Ghana this task is exponentially more difficult. The 5 northern regions in Ghana are statistically the poorest regions in Ghana with the Upper West region having the highest poverty headcount in the country. Most of these rural women are predominantly smallholder farmers who turn to shea nut collection and shea butter production during the dry season. Auntie Fati has a beans and guinea corn farm and turns to the sale of shea nuts and butter when the shea nut season arrives. She also sells koose, a magical delicacy created with flour and beans. She combines all these works in order to provide basic needs for her family. It is not nearly enough.
Her income is hardly a reflection of her hard work. Smallholder farmers like her consistently receive the short end of the stick in what is an incredibly profitable industry. Shea nuts and products, for instance, rake in billions of dollars in revenue annually, yet the mothers who toil at the forefront of the business live in poverty and can barely sustain themselves and their families. A lack of technical assistance and access to markets play a huge role in the low returns for women like Auntie Fati.
Sommalife is breathing new life into many mothers by bearing some of the laborious burden faced by women in the shea fields. A sharp vision that started at the poverty capital of Ghana in the Upper West regions has spread its wings throughout the northern regions in Ghana to make mothers smile again. Sommalife has offered free technical training and access to profitable markets to thousands of women of which Auntie Fati is a part of. She has seen her income increase by 40% and learned to make value added products like bar soap and lotion. She is in a much better position financially and can afford to give her kids a decent meal and an education. Her selfless disposition compels her to go around showcasing the results of Sommalife’s impact and drawing more mothers into the various tailored initiatives for smallholder farmers.
A mother is a sun to her child and the child, a star in the eyes of her mother. Auntie Fati looks keenly into a bright future with Sommalife. An opportunity to give her stars good education, health insurance, and a better lifestyle has presented itself in the life transforming initiatives of Sommalife in northern Ghana. Sommalife delights in making the lives of mothers in rural and often forgotten places better. Life will become infinitely easier when mothers are resourced to express their profound love.