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The world is becoming
much more of a
global village, so we
all belong in this big
Awareness: So when Jo came
to the village and used this
phrase with the women sitting
in the circle, it must have been
startling, but in a good way.
Tererai: Oh yes. A woman's
role in the household within
most developing countries has
never been appreciated and this
is very much so in my village.
A farmer is a man. Despite the
fact that most of the farming is
done by women, as well as rais-
ing children and doing chores in
the kitchen, women's jobs have
never been given a value. For
someone to use the tinogona
phrase, and at the same time put
a value to the chores that have
never been recognized, was so
It was one of those discus-
sions that were rare, especially
during that time, and it raised a
lot of hopes in us to have some-
one recognize the importance of
women's work and saying you
can step up and do the things
you need to achieve in your life.
Awareness: What kind of
effect did Jo's message have
among the women in the circle
-- did they talk about it?
Tererai: Oh yes, for a long
time. The women were talk-
ing about food insecurity at the
household level and the strug-
gles to buy uniforms for their
children, and they also talked
about wanting their girls to
attend school but it was diffi-
cult. So after the Jo Luck discus-
sion that day, women were say-
ing to each other, "Is she real?"
At the same time they were
saying, "Yes, because of her
ability to have a presence that
women acknowledged as a real
person who was not only listen-
ing to what we were saying, but
sharing other experiences and
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making us believe that as wom-
en we are already making a dif-
ference by the way we raise our
children and do all our chores.
I think it was a defining mo-
ment for most of the women
who had felt badly because
they don't bring in any income,
so they were not contributing
economically to the household.
Just hearing it from an outsider
made a huge impact on us.
Awareness: I can feel what
a defining moment it was. It
is true that when we are really
willing to sit down and be open
to others, it is amazing what can
happen our lives.
Tererai: Yes, and Jo came in
more of a listener than a teach-
er. For Heifer to sit down and
ask our opinions as women and
listen without lecturing was so
phenomenal. Jo came in as an
older wise sister and just shared,"
I have two children, how many
do you have?"
Her ability to listen to every
woman in that circle and then
share Heifer work and experi-
ences of other women in differ-
ent parts of the world inspired
us. She made us feel we were
not alone in our struggles by tell-
ing us that there are millions of
women and mothers in similar
situations, and Heifer was mak-
ing a difference in the lives of
many women. Then she said, `it
is achievable if you believe in
Awareness: I have a big smile
on my face from the beauty of
what you're sharing.
Tererai: You know, when I dis-
cuss these things in this country,
at times it doesn't seem like a
big deal, but when you are in
Africa, and especially a country
like Zimbabwe that at the time
had just gained its independence
from the British, it really made a
In our village we had never
interacted with white people like
this, where someone sits down
on the ground with us, and Jo
never hesitated to dip her fingers
into whatever we were eating.
In my culture it speaks big for
someone to come in and join
with you and eat with you.
Awareness: We know if some-
one is joining with us or not.
Tererai: When we try to put
ourselves in the other person's
shoes and be there for them, the
other person will always feel, yes,
I have met a soul sister here.
Awareness: You really have
lived with so many challenges
and you are able to speak so
clearly about them, it is remark-
able. I also wanted to ask about
the rock where you placed your
paper with your dreams written
Tererai: That rock kept the
promise. The last time I was
home with the Oprah Winfrey
show, I said to my mother, "if
I graduate I don't think I'm go-
ing to be buried here." And my
mother said, "yeah, so what are
you going to do with the rock?"
And I said, "what do you expect
me to do with it?" (chuckle) So
she said, "depending on where
you want to be buried," and I
knew in my heart of hearts that
I would like to have that rock
as part of my tombstone.
You know my mother, she al-
ways says, Mother Earth is a giver
and Mother Earth is a taker and
we should always respect her.
We don't know when she will
give or when she will take, but
what we know for sure is that she
holds promises and she holds
life. Because of so many stories
that my mother and grandmother
had shared, I never doubted her
Awareness: That feels pro-
found. Our discussion of the
rock brings me back to one of
the things I wanted to acknowl-
edge. You could have written
something simpler, as you had
indicated, but you expressed
what was really deeply in your
heart and it was a very sacred
moment. The rock where you
buried the paper had a purpose
to remind you to go forward
until your dreams were real-
ized. It is quite a compelling
story to have written something
down and called forth spiritual
support to propel the dreams
into life, and you knew that the
agreement was irrevocable.
Tererai: It's interesting be-
cause my mother said, "You
agree within yourself and you
make promises within, and if
you do not challenge yourself