All that she had learnt back then didn’t make a lot of sense. It was all about having fun and enjoying the travel, meeting her sisters once again and well, the change of environment was good for a disturbed soul like hers. That was her definition of camp, a rose garden where she could walk around and feel amazing, be free to speak her mind and no one would reproach her for it, feel protected, feel safe.
Looking back to those days, she sees the sense in what they were taught. She remembered imagining how freedom would feel like. The facilitators always insisted that freedom came with responsibility. She had always wondered what it meant until she got to campus and everything changed. Her mother was not with her to tell her to do things. Asking for permission to go anywhere was now foreign. She could eat whatever she wanted, wear what she wanted without seeking approval and she was a government sponsored student who had been awarded the Higher Education Loan. Part of it was spent to pay the school fees and the rest well, it stayed in her account which she had easy access to and wouldn’t have to ask for anyone’s approval to spend it. Nobody was controlling her anymore. FREEDOM!!
It felt so good. She could now meet the ‘’love of her life” without fear and could stay out for as long as she wanted. She didn’t know how wrong her perception of freedom was. She remembers how she would sneak out of school and travel to see him with her little allowance that she would receive from her struggling parents every month. She had forgotten where she had come from and the effort she had had to put to get to where she was at that moment. She would feel so proud telling people how she had passed her exams and was in an institution of her higher learning and yet she didn’t have a clear picture of how lost she was at that time. Pride had clouded her judgement. Besides, if she made it to the university, she could as well pass her exams without much effort. She stopped going to class. She had a room in the hostels but barely slept there. She made ‘appearances’ to school and was thrilled about it. The transformation was drastic. Whenever her friends or family asked why she was behaving that way, she would say that she was an adult in the eyes of the government and was free to do whatever she pleased. She had never protected anyone as much as she had protected her love. He was the only person in her life who loved her. She locked her friends and family out of her life. She didn’t need them.
She missed out on so much. She never got to socialize with new people in school but she was happy and didn’t care what people thought about her. Before her main exams, she was invited back for a Mentoring camp. She felt so nice filling out the evaluation forms on sex since she thought she knew everything. No one was as bright as her when it came to that topic. They were asked to make a SWOT. The facilitator had explained that a SWOT is an analysis that identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats one had towards achieving a particular goal. The first goal she identified was finishing her university studies with a first class honours. As a challenge, she identified freedom as one of them.
When they went through their SWOT’s, reality started to dawn on her. Wow, people had dreams. She had dreams that she had completely forgotten about.
Her turn came to make a presentation of her SWOT and she felt embarrassed. She wished she could erase freedom as a challenge from the flip chart but it was too late. She had to explain what she meant and she did. The response she got from the facilitator made her mind switch from her entitled state to reality. The facilitator reminded her of her journey from high school and how she had struggled to achieve her grades. The hard work that her mother did to provide for her in order to raise her school fees. She cried. She was ashamed. The facilitator asked her to see her aside. The talk they had changed her.
Mentoring and Empowerment Camps Alumni
Group of 2015