On the 13th of May, 2023, the Charisma Ladies, which is the women’s ministry of the Charismatic Evangelistic Ministries (CEM), visited the Pediatric Oncology Unit of the Korlebu Teaching hospital.
It was really heart wrenching to see such young children battling various forms of cancer. There was a four months old baby who had lymphomas all over his body. They were waiting for the biopsy report to determine the next line of action. His young mother looked so weary and exhausted. Her life is going to be on hold for as long as this little boy is not well. Nothing else will matter. No! Absolutely nothing!
Some of the children had grown so lean you could virtually count their ribs. By each bedside was A WOMAN – A MOTHER. Most of these women lived in the mother’s hostel, their new abode. They have travelled from all over the country and have involuntarily given up their lives and signed up for a new career; nursing their very ill children back to health. For as long as it takes, they will continue to sacrifice their own lives for it. Painfully, some of them go back home without the children because they yield to the fangs of cancer.
I saw a few men with some of the mothers though…but it was a place for mothers and children.
I was drawn to a mother who looked very drained as she sat overlooking this young boy about 15 years. He had an oxygen mask on but was still breathing quite unusually. I said hello and sat by her and asked what was wrong with the boy. It was as though she was just waiting for someone to ask. She did not hesitate to let me into what was wrong with her son amidst sobs. He complained of knee pain and eventually after running around to figure out what was wrong with him, it turned out to be cancer. He had had one of his legs amputated due to the rage of the cancer.
I asked her how he was doing after the amputation and there she uttered the most devastating news to me; He is in palliative care. The cancer had spread to his lungs and he had very little time left.
He woke while I was talking to his mum and I had a brief chat with him. I have smiles on my face as I recall and type this part of our conversation. I asked him what food he enjoyed most and he said gari and beans. I laughed out loud and he managed a smile as well, as I called him a gob3 fan. I encouraged him and told him he will be fine. I asked if he believed in miracles and he said yes he did. I hoped and prayed for a miracle for him.
Two weeks on, the boy passed on… That morning when I called to check on them, she did not answer, she sent me a message instead to say her son had passed on… I was in shreds.
Mummy is broken. She gave up everything to sit by his bedside just so he could get well. Will she heal? Will she get back on her feet and pick her life up again? Yes I believe, but that is in the womb of time.
Many women and for that matter mothers, have had to give up their personal dreams, life and hopes just to do family.
Women will have to work three times as hard just to be able to make it. Why? Only because she is woman.
I observed a scene at one of the hospitals in East Legon in Accra one evening. There were three women all still cladded in their corporate clothing, two had their wigs off (I knew because of the braids). The other wore natural hair and they were all attending to their sick infants.
One was with a grandma, another with a nanny and the other all by herself with two other little children. I imagined that they will get home, barely have any sleep, wake up to house chores and then jump back into high heels to go earn their keep.
What if the children do not feel better and they are unable to go to work the next day? Would they be understood?
Is it a woman’s fault that she has to be pregnant and take maternity leave? No, she is a woman so that is part of the bargain. However, many women have lost their jobs because they had babies and took maternity leave.
I have encountered a lot of young women who have put away their desires of being married and raising a family because it is a threat to their careers. Well, you may call it choice but here is the fact, they have seen how some of their colleagues have become very stagnated in their pursuit of career development because they took time off to do what nature has designed for women. If they were guaranteed both, without fear and victimization, the decision might be different.
I gave up my career for seven whole years only because I am a woman. I had to take care of my children and my home. I tried at certain times to combine it with work but it was just not working well. This indeed, took a toll on my career. As I said, a woman has to work thrice as hard to win it and I put in all the work when eventually I got back to work. I had to juggle work, child care, home care, and ensure that I maintained a strong work and family life balance. It had to come with a lot of sacrifice, selflessness and ultimately, the grace of God.
I know women who are tagged and touted as proud and disrespectful because they are chasing their dreams and putting in all the work and challenging the status-quo, just to pave the way for other women. They have been labeled and called unprintable names because they have shattered the glass ceilings and are in enviable positions. The song that is often sang is she is there because she paid with her body.
A couple divorces and in most cases, the mother is saddled with the care of the children with the father caring when he desires.
Two teenagers play adults game, there is pregnancy and it is all on the girl… She risks her life and reproductive health from choosing to abort the baby or risks her future ambitions by having a baby which will be her sole responsibility.
Another word for womanhood is sacrifice.
Only because she is a woman, she will menstruate, have cramps and may not live up to expectation that day. Why should she not be given another chance?
Only because she is a woman, she will be pregnant and take maternity leave. Why should that be a risk to her career?
Only because she is a woman, she has less sleep at night because she is a lactating mother. Why should she be punished for it?
Only because she is a woman, she will ask for time off to take care of her sick child. How does that make her unconcerned about the job?
Only because she is a woman, she has had body changes as a result of pregnancy and child birth. How does that make her ugly and unworthy of the role she so qualifies for? Why will she not be supported and encouraged to get back to shape other than making her feel unworthy?
Sometimes, it is only because she is a woman and nothing else.
She is knowledgeable
She is ambitious
She is smart
She is a great resource
She is well qualified
She is experienced
She fits that role more than anyone else
Don’t question her abilities and capabilities
Don’t question the power of her brains
Don’t question her strength
Don’t question what she brings to the table
You know very well that she is able…
Sometimes, it is only because she is a woman and nothing else.
Edem Knight-Tay is Programmes Director and host of Home Affairs at Joy 99.7 FM.
She is strong-willed, confident, empathetic, results-oriented and a strong advocate for thriving families. She has been married for 19 years with 4 adorable children.
Edem has been a media practitioner for about 2 decades working in various capacities.
She lives by the Biblical principles “love your neighbour as yourself” and “do unto others what you would like them to do unto you.”
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