Woman's ForumSpeakers: Sarah, Corrie, Cathy
Attendees: Women from Tali and the 59 surrounding villages
Purpose: Share our stories of being professional women leaders, the value of higher education, the balance of family and work life, and the importance of giving
At 10 am, we were served breakfast that included fried eggs with onions and tomatoes, sliced white bread, fresh pineapple, peppered coffee, local hot tea, Ovaltine/cocoa, and water.
The meeting room was not yet ready, and the women had just begun arriving. We were given chairs and asked to sit on the outside patio until the program was ready to begin. During this time, we were greeted and welcomed by women arriving. Each village had coordinated their dress attire to match. The women looked beautiful in the matching traditional dresses.
The school children were in uniform and very curious about us. I had brought silly bands with me, so I shared these with the children. For each shape given, I explained what it was and how it related to a professional career. For instance, a wrench would be used by a mechanic and an elephant might be protected by a ranger.
- How can we raise money to send our children to university?
- Will electricity and better roads come to Tali with African University?
- Our cocoas are becoming damaged before they can be harvested; will African University develop better farming techniques?
- How much of the rainforest with African University take?
- Will there be employment opportunities for us and our children at African University?
- What language will classes be given in at African University?
Finally, William had brought along Verizon duffel bags as gifts for the women in attendance. We handed all the bags (about 150) out and ran out! William drove back to his place of residence and got more and we still ran out. For the women who did not get bags, Elizabeth served them lunch.
By 4 pm, the Forum was complete and the men (Wayne, Martin, David, and William) were whisked off to be dressed for the cultural event. Kathy, Sarah, and I were driven to a nearby community space. We were exhausted from the conditions and events earlier in the day. I saw our driver with a warm beer and immediately requested one for each of us. This was our first beer in Tali and very welcomed! Although warm, I have to say the beer was the most refreshing and best tasting I have ever had!
30 minutes later, the men were dressed and we walked to where they were to take pictures before the cultural event started. Once complete, we were seated on the side of an open space before two buildings. The entire village had gathered for this event. Originally, we were to attend a cultural event that was put on for us, like theater. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we were honored to attend an event that would have taken place whether we were there or not.
Clutural dress for men
By 7:30 pm, the pomp and circumstance was complete and the members of the club were absorbed in traditional activities in the clubhouse. The team was dismissed, and we headed back to our place of residence while in Tali.
The event was a rite of passage for a man to be in line to become chief of the local club. Our understanding is that this club acts as a fraternity with rules of conduct, traditions, and a membership of only men. One of the rules of conduct is that a member cannot abuse a woman. The club has a current chief (who is the Former Governor that has been with us since day 2 of the journey), a chief elect, and a chief elect-elect. This event was to observe the selection of the chief elect-elect.
We were able to observe the phased entrance parade that welcomes a 7-year old boy to the clubhouse after spending 7 days in the bush learning the ways of the club.