To me, education = toilet indoors

My life was good as a child. We had everything we needed and I never knew scarcity. Fast forward to when I was about 12. Things went downhill. We moved to a two roomed house and life was tough. Briefly, we did not have enough food, no electricity and no running water on our property.

As was the custom in our new neighborhood, my brother and I drew water and collected firewood as that was children did. It was not a problem for us as this was all part of life. In spite of the low income though, my father continued bringing home novels for us to read as he had always done.

I would read about London, Paris and New York in the books and would wonder aloud to my father about how those places looked like and how life was there. Also, was it true that one did not need a piece of cloth to wipe off dust from one’s legs after walking a long distance? My father said life in those cities was great, the buildings were very tall and there was concrete/tarmac everywhere and one’s shoes did not get dusty. I was amazed, to say the least. He would then always tell me to go to school, college, get a job and I would be able to go to those places and see them for myself. My love for travel was thus born from my chats with my father, a man who had never gone beyond Zambia and Zimbabwe. He somehow managed to paint beautiful pictures of the big cities and at the same time emphasize the importance of education.

One day, my mum and I were chatting and she casually asked if I would like to continue fetching firewood from the hills when I was older. Of course, my answer was “no.” She said I should not mess around with boys but pay attention to my education, go to college and get a job. I would then be able to have electricity in my home. A while later, my mother asked whether I liked having to ask someone to escort me outside when I had a running tummy at night. Again, my answer was “no.” She said I should concentrate on my education because then I have a house with a toilet indoors and I could get up at any time of the night and go to the bathroom on my own. I thought this was actually a great idea – going to the bathroom at any time I wanted without having to plead with someone to escort me to the loo outside.

The issue of a toilet indoors made me want to complete school, get a job and have that house with the magical toilet indoors. For some reason, this was what really kept me from messing around with boys in spite of the fact that many girls in my residential area got pregnant at a young age. Some boys said I was proud and thought I was better than them. I told them that I just was not interested in boyfriends – I did not say that the issue ‘standing’ between them and I was having a toilet indoors. What would they have thought? I am happy to report that I have had an indoor loo. It was a goal that I set out to achieve and I got it. It may look like a tiny goal, but you should remember where I came from, so I am very happy about it.

I am very grateful to my father for making me dream of Paris, London and New York – I have been to those cities and many others. I am also very thankful to my mother for making me dream of having a toilet indoors because now I can go to the toilet any time I want to without asking someone to escort me outside.

As shown in my title: To me, education = indoor toilet.


23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. anotherday2paradise
    Jan 21, 2015 @ 14:58:42

    Glad this ambition motivated you to do well. πŸ™‚ I also grew up with an outside loo, but at night there was a chamber pot under the bed. Thinking back on the unthinkable, makes me very grateful for my lovely bathrooms. πŸ™‚


  2. Zambian Lady
    Dec 17, 2014 @ 14:54:49

    Every house had their own outhouse, but it was scary to go there at night because a) it was pitch black outside b) possibility of being attacked c) snakes. In fact, girls were routinely not allowed to go outside alone in the middle of the night for security reasons.
    Thanks for visiting πŸ™‚


  3. Naomi
    Dec 16, 2014 @ 22:39:50

    It’s interesting that an indoor toilet kept you motivated through those hormonal teenage years. Good for you! I’m curious though, was there a communal outhouse that you needed someone to accompany you? We’ve had outhouses, but every house had their own.


  4. Highly Favored
    Dec 09, 2014 @ 15:47:52

    I enjoyed reading your story and the “motivation” for keeping focused socially and education wise as well. Very cute about the indoor toilet motivation!

    Your parents are very wise people and I’m sure they are very proud of you.


  5. merrildsmith
    Dec 07, 2014 @ 16:04:47

    I have never had to live without indoor plumbing, but I can certainly understand the desire to have an indoor toilet! I know in many parts of the world, it is women and girls who are placed in dangerous situations because they have to travel to bring water from wells or have to leave their homes to visit outdoor toilets.

    How wonderful that your parents valued books and education and that they helped to inspire and motivate you. Thank you for sharing your story!


    • zambianlady
      Dec 07, 2014 @ 18:01:33

      We were fortunate that we drew water in our own residential area and so it was very safe. If our taps ran dry, we drew water from the nearby (i.e. about a kilometer away) water station and it was safe as there was plenty of foot traffic around. I feel sorry for those female folk that have to get water in not so safe places.


  6. karomi3
    Dec 04, 2014 @ 02:12:56

    What a beautiful story. May God Bless You Always Zambian Lady! πŸ™‚


  7. michelledfarrell
    Dec 04, 2014 @ 00:18:30

    My motivation came from my mother also. She told me if I didn’t do well in school I would have to resort to farming. Farming is hard work and did not appeal to me at all. I would know because that’s how my grandparents made a living. Great post!


    • zambianlady
      Dec 07, 2014 @ 13:57:25

      I agree – farming is very hard work not only physically, but financially. I find it interesting that some people actually love farming. I am definitely not one of those people πŸ™‚


  8. restlessjo
    Dec 03, 2014 @ 20:06:11

    Sounds like Mum and Dad would be very proud of you. πŸ™‚ I find that I would like to know more about where and how you have travelled. Many thanks for taking the trouble to visit my blog..


  9. earthriderjudyberman
    Dec 03, 2014 @ 02:45:09

    This week my students read about “Women in Aviation.” The first African-American female pilot, Bessie Coleman, was one of the women the story focused on. Like you, she had a goal to become a pilot. A tough thing to achieve for women in the early 1900s. She found a school in France that would teach her how to fly, she learned French and worked two jobs to achieve her goal. It’s unfortunate that many kids don’t know the obstacles that other overcome to attain an education. I’m glad that you were focused on the right things in life. You and I are lucky, it seems. We had very wise parents. πŸ˜‰


  10. moneypropeller
    Dec 02, 2014 @ 03:07:21

    That sounds like fantastic motivation to me. Congratulations on achieving your goal!


  11. Petrish @ Debt Free Martini
    Dec 02, 2014 @ 00:40:34

    This is such a cute story. Humble beginnings are a set up for a great life.


  12. lbeth1950
    Dec 01, 2014 @ 22:48:52

    Excellent motivation. I wanted to be free to make my own decisions


    • zambianlady
      Dec 07, 2014 @ 13:49:32

      Like you, being able to have a choice to do whatever I want to (of course within given parameters) is what drives me what now drives me. Oh, the power of choice!


      • lbeth1950
        Dec 07, 2014 @ 14:08:38

        I didn’t grow up in extreme poverty, but my father was extremely repressive. I was motivated to achievement to get away. I thank God that I didn’t fall under another domineering man just to get away as so many young girls do.

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