* * * *
60 years ago
I remember how my life used to be back in Angola. At the age 10, when it was early summer, and the heat licked at our sunburned faces, I was orphaned. It was at that moment when my life began to heave and change. I was left alone and defenceless in this big, scary world. My parents were killed by Chikungunya, a virus fatal to all human life, leaving me with nothing but the feeling of fear. Vulnerability. I was shattered into a million pieces as if I was made of glass.
Before I began school, every single morning, the reflection of a mirror would leave me paralysed with terror. Whenever I had to stand in front of that dreaded glass, I would begin at my feet, averting my eyes from my own face. Just like the rest of my body, my feet were bony and thin. My gaze slowly rose up, and I took in the view of my body, wincing at the emaciated figured that stared back. I felt like a hollow shell of a plump self that I was before my parents passed. But all of this was futile. This was the result of a child fending for themselves in this world. Nonetheless, what happened, happened, and there is no way to change fate or the past.
* * * *
The time has finally come for my promise to be fulfilled. After 13 memorable years filled with the good, bad, fun and change, it was my moment to shine. I received the piece of paper that would always remind me of the things I accomplished by myself.
In my weakness, I located my strength. I never thought that I had the capability to complete school, alone, but I managed somehow, by perceiving learning as a distraction. Instead of letting tears fill up all the oceans in the world, I put every last piece of strength left inside me into my education. I fought every day without knowing what it was going to bring. After a while, I came to the realisation that I didn’t need much if any, company. I had inner peace and time to heal, ultimately, the factors that helped me survive mentally. Thus, I took my adversity and made it my advantage.
After my graduation, I decided to dedicate the rest of my life to all the little children in my community that face this world on their own. It was this decision that opened up a new chapter in my life. Not only did their lives get changed for the better, but during the process, I met another humanitarian worker that took my breath away. My beautiful husband. The father of my children.
Every time we laid eyes on each other, was as if every ounce of breath was stolen from my lungs, floating in the warm air like midnight smoke. I remember the exact words he said when he asked me the most important question that changed my life forever. “Would you want to come with me back home, to Australia? We could get married. Be a family.” My answer was obviously, Yes.
* * * *
Ada and Imani. My two baby girls. Time with them flew by so quickly. They grew up as healthy children and received their desired education. In my eyes, they were the most beautiful girls in...