I was 25 years old when I came to live in San Francisco with plans to sell clothes and buy some clothes to take back to Africa. Within a month the civil war started in Liberia so I decided to stay here. I was lucky to stay in this country because without me being here I would not know what I know now. I couldn’t write my name or read but I knew how to do business that’s why I came here. Then I realized for me to live here I have to be able to read and write.
When I was growing up back home my family sent me to school but then they took me out of school because I wasn’t learning. They didn’t know what was wrong with me and they told me I was dumb, so I believed I was a stupid person growing up. Instead they made me sell produce from the farm at the market. Doing that gave me a lot of experience doing business.
Becoming an American
Everything was fine while I was living in Africa but when I got here I knew that things had to change for me to live in the US. Now I know education is the key to be successful in the U S. In Africa you don’t have to have an education to become rich. The people that I came to live with did not know that I had no school education. I was living in San Francisco at a place called Geneva Tower. As for me, everything was dark. I couldn’t work because I didn’t have any education. Then I started going to night school but I stopped because I had the same problem as in Africa. I was confused, not knowing what my problem was, so I got a job doing live-in and saved my money.
Learning to read and write
After a few years I met a good man and I got married. He was a teacher and I tried very hard to hide my problem from him. We moved to San Mateo and I got pregnant with my first child, then my second one. Then I decided to try again to learn to read and write. I got a tutor once a week to work with me. The Library decided to do some tests on me and they told me I have a problem called dyslexia. I knew all along that I have a problem, why I did not like school. I was over 30 years old, still couldn’t read or write and was living in the big country married to a teacher. After a few years, we moved to Hayward with two young kids, 4 months old and two years old, and no family to help me. I still wanted to be able to read and write, so I went to the library and they found me someone to come to my house because I was trying to get a child care license so I can work at home. We did work for a little while and she left for school. Then I got another tutor. Before that, things were not going well with me and my husband because my young daughter is autistic and I was left to deal with her problem by myself. That was very hard for me. I can’t read and write and I have to do research by myself. At that time I decided to go out there without education and fight for her. I said to myself I have two girls, that is all I have and I would do whatever I could to give them the education that I didn’t get.
I had to get my driver’s license, so I kept studying with a tutor and passed my driver’s test. After I decided to become a citizen of the US, we studied more and on 9-11-2001 I became a US citizen. Because of 9-11, they told us to go home without the ceremony. I decided to file for divorce because things were not going right between me and my husband. That was the worst thing I had to do because I had no idea about lawyers and money and my husband’s brother is a lawyer, so I knew that this was not going to be an easy divorce. I was not happy because I had no support at home and sometimes I cried myself to bed because I have no family to talk to. It was too much stress on me taking care of other kids and having a child with autism. I didn’t realize that he was going to try to take the kids away from me. It was going to be a fight in the court and gave me lot of paper work and I did not think I could do it after all. I tried very hard to keep my kids. I worked seven days a week for two years, I spent more than one hundred thousand, and at the end I got to keep my kids. At the same time I had to buy a new house before the divorce was over, because he wanted to sell the house.
After two years, I sold my house and moved to Castro Valley because the school was good for both of my kids. I bought a second home for investment. My business started growing so I got a license for 16 kids. I was doing very well. The kids and the parents all loved me and they were happy with my work because I was getting them ready for school. I felt good about myself as a single parent raising two beautiful daughters who were doing well.
Getting my American dream back
After losing my home and business to the failing economy, I was about to be homeless because I did not have the right education to get a job. So I made a big decision to go to nursing school to get my CNA certificate. I feel good about myself because I know that I can go out there and do better than before. Now when I go out I put my head up, not down. I thank God that I came to the US and there are programs to help people like me. I want anyone who reads my story to know that if you are kind, honest and believe in God you can make it in life.
Comfort. "Growing Up Without Education" Our Words, Our Voices. Vol. 3. Hayward: Literacy Plus Council, 2015. 35-38. Print.