Friday, March 31, 2017

Ada - Humans of Espwa

As with most families, Pwoje Espwa includes members who are more extroverted and those who are introverts. Without a doubt, Jean Yvenante Ada - who is more commonly known as Mommy Ada - definitely falls into the extroverted category. Earlier in the week when I asked Ada if I could interview her, I walked alongside of her as she waved and smiled at the calls of “Ada! Ada!” coming from multiple people around the compound. When it came time for the interview, I entered the boys’ village and asked a few different boys, “Kote Mommy Ada?” (“Where is Mommy Ada?”); each one I asked knew exactly where she was located – house 16.

I found the 40-year-old house mother, sitting on her bed in house 16, singing hymns in Creole and French with children around her. Ada called me over, patted next to her as a request for me to sit, and for the first 20 minutes of our interview time she taught me a hymn in Creole.

“Sèl Jezi sa ki kap konprann mwen. Sèl Jezi sa ki kap ede’m.” “It is only Jesus who understands me. It is only Jesus who can help me.”

The words to this hymn perfectly capture Mommy Ada’s firm trust in her Heavenly Father. When I asked her if she believed in God, she was taken aback, “Oh yes, of course! I know God…I find Him in the Bible and through prayer each day.”

At Pwoje Espwa, Ada works as a house mother. These women live in the houses with the children at Espwa; they have one day off each week and do all cleaning, washing, and raising of the children. To say they have patience and strength would be an understatement. Ada absolutely embodies these qualities.

While she has only been working as a house mother for 9 months, she has been familiar with Espwa for about 10 years, which is why she is so well known within the compound. One of her side jobs is commerce; the woman sells clothing and other items and used to do so regularly inside of Pwoje Espwa during the children’s recess from school. When one of her own children had an accident and she had to pay hospital bills, Ada came to Espwa asking if she could find more work and was given a house of 13, 14, and 15-year-old boys to take care of.

Ada with one of the boys who she takes care of in house 16. 

She doesn’t mind this work at all, though; in fact, she loves it. “I love working with children, especially little children. I was a kindergarten teacher for 16 years before I started selling clothing.” Ada went on to explain her love of teaching and her extensive list of teaching experiences, which range from kindergarten classes to young adult religious formation.

Outside of Espwa, Ada has been married for 12 years and has 4 daughters – Farrah, 18, Sephora, 16, Shidnara, 12, and Shneida, 10. She explained that her main goal in life is to make sure her children arrive at their own goals and are successful. Ada shared that her advice to others is to keep pushing through life, even if it is difficult. “I would tell them to have courage...I would say don’t lose your head in this life.”

Before heading back out into the increasingly hot March sunshine, I asked Mommy Ada if she had anything else to say to those who might read this. “I would like to ask them to pray for me so that I have good health…so that I have good health and that I stay with God.” This month, we ask you to pray for Ada, along with all of the other house mothers at Pwoje Espwe who play one of the most vital roles here.

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