I was born in Liberia, West Africa, a member of the Kissi tribe. My family were descendants of chiefs. My parents were loving and kindhearted.
I was brought up to be very independent and proud of who I was. Unfortunately, my family didn't believe in sending their girl children to school.
As a child, I was being groomed to marry a chief from another tribe. Everyday I was told how to behave and act. This went on
until I was fourteen years old. The day of my wedding, everything was going on as if I was not even there. There was food, dancing and drinking as I sat in my
mother's bedroom, watching my life being planned for me. I knew right then that what was happening out there was not my life! I saw two lives. One life will
be, by the time I turned 20, I would have my own farm and maybe three kids, and boobs down to my knees. The other was far away in an unknown land. I chose to
go with the unknown.
My village is about 20 to 25 miles from where my auntie lives. I must have been having an out of body experience to be able
to walk through the jungle and not be afraid I was going to be eaten by wild animals. When I got there, she thought a member of the family had died. I assured
her that everybody was well. I told her I wanted to go to school. Can't remember whether she smiled or laughed at what she heard. I was very surprised to see
her reaction. She told me I was too old to go to school. I said, if you can't help me, I will leave and find another way.
Two or three days later, she took me to school. They told her that I was too grown for kindergarten, too big for first
grade, so they put me in the second grade. I was teased every day by other girls that were my age who were in sixth or seventh grade. They called me peeking
village which means country girl or bush girl.
The teacher sat me in the back of the classroom where I could see the tops of all my classmates' heads, but I could not see
the blackboard. Every day I left school with terrible headaches and watery eyes. Didn't understand what was wrong with me. Years later, I found out that I
needed glasses to read. That's why I had those headaches.
When I came to America, I couldn't read or write. My world was pitch black. For almost ten years, I did odds jobs to
survive. Teaching myself to read a little, I was blessed to work for a family as a nanny, who saw my creativity in cooking and decided to send me to cooking
school. Eventually I got a job working in New York City as a chef but I still couldn't read or write very well.
Though I still have some trouble with math and reading comprehension, my Project Literacy tutor has helped me improve my
skills to meet and achieve my goals in reading, writing and computer skills, enabling me to write this story.