Her name is Agnus. I honestly don't know if I ever learned her last name or her name in Dhipadola (the local language). I simply know her as Agnus. Agnus is not the leader of an NGO or a politician or even someone who is very outspoken. Agnus is a grandmother, she is probably 53 years old now and last I heard she is in Primary Five, or P5, as it is often referred. P5 is essentially 5th grade and the students are around 10 to 15 years old. Agnus is 53
When we met her she was 51 and in P3. She would stand in front of us with her green Makauri Primary School uniform and stoically announce "Agnus, P3, Makauri Primary School presents the Adola Anthem" and then proceeded to lead the call & response song that was the local kingdom's anthem.
After the first time, Apollo Jaramogi, the charismatic leader of Uganda Orphans Rural Development Programme told us her story. Agnus made sure, regardless of the cost, that her children would make it through primary and secondary school. Then, again, she made sure the same happened with her grandchildren.
In 1996 Uganda announced the end of primary school fees and promotion of "Universal Primary Education". A few years ago, Agnus realized that her child and grandchildren could read and write, but she couldn't. She decided that if school no longer had fees that she, too, would go to school. She says once she finishes secondary school she would like to become a teacher. She'll be in her 60s when this happens, but I don't doubt her at all. She will be a teacher.
I think we get wrapped up in celebrating iconic women. Secretaries of state, foreign ministers, presidents, prime ministers, writers, businesswomen and the like. They deserve all of that and more, but I want to say Happy International Women's Day from this feminist/ally man to all the quiet women heroes.
Happy International Women's Day to my mom. I doubt she'll ever be remembered in a history book or celebrating all around the world, but she is a hero. Despite being an immigrant, despite only having an associates degree and despite losing her husband she will has three children who are healthy, happy and successful: each college educated and soon all three with graduate degrees. Two with beautiful, healthy and happy children.
And of course a Happy International Women's Day to the Agnuses out there. Quietly setting the example that at any age education is important and despite challenges it can be and should be pursued. In a country where according to the World Bank, only 56.13% of students completed primary school she is inspiration not only to the girls at her school, but the boys as well. She may not be celebrating internationally or written about in a history book, but standing there proudly with her warm smile and green uniform she has changed many lives in Ramogi and will never be far from my mind or my heart.
Happy International Women's Day to everyone, but mainly to all the quiet women heroes and all my fellow male allies. May there be another 100 years of progress and celebration!