“When I was giving birth to my first daughter – she was a face presentation, so the doctor did an emergency C-section. They didn’t tell me I was having surgery, they just put me under. They told my husband, but he wasn’t allowed in the room. I was in my twenties and I woke up with this big scar and felt that my body had been mutilated. I was very athletic and in good shape, I considered it a failure that I didn’t deliver my baby on my own. Then, I had two more daughters, two more C-sections – when the third one was born my oldest daughter was only two.” -Barbara Hull, retired genetics counselor and mother of three.
“As an educator it sometimes disturbs me because there is an assumption that women should be teachers because we are nurturing. I maintain high expectations, I set a standard for my students and I have a real skill and talent in what I do. I believe that girls and women need to feel purposeful. What I teach them here will grow with them, they develop their talent, their minds and they understand their value as a human being. If the focus for young women is about being beautiful – then all they have is a declining asset. Music and singing is about your unique voice – and really it is all about having a voice that matters. Some girls arrive in the program they don’t value themselves, they are basically apologizing for the floorspace they take up in the room. And over time, I see them see themselves as being of value.” – Dianne Berkun Menaker is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.
“I was in Liberia right after the war, working for the United Nations, and I saw this girl who had no hands. The girl was maybe 13 years old and she was sitting in a chair with a baby in her lap. I couldn’t believe it – I had been working for the United Nations for many decades and had seen the aftermath of war in Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq and Israel but this was different. Maybe because Liberia is very close to Ghana, where I am from, seeing that girl changed my world. I wondered how is she going to care for herself, how can she ever clean herself with no hands. When I returned to the United States I knew I had to address the turmoil in Africa and I started my organization, Voices of African Mothers in order to address poverty and hunger and to educate women.” – Nana Fuso-Randall is the founder and President of Voices of African Mothers.