This book is about Faith, a woman who had children when she was young and unmarried. Because of when and where she lived at the time, women her age group ostracized her and her chances of getting minimum high school, let alone, college education diminished. While women in her situation just hoped for finding and marrying a man, who could take care of them and their children, Faith took another approach. She faithfully cultivated her independence, by steadily inching her way, towards her educational dream. She believed that a better quality of education would give her the independence to redeem her from relying entirely upon marriage as her only means of living. Against all odds that she struggled with, from her teenage years to young adulthood, Faith ultimately immigrated to the United States, went to college, and earned advanced degrees. Her education dramatically improved her quality of life and boosted her self-confidence and self-worth. Faith could be a model for a significant number of single mothers and people, whom society tends to undervalue. Their dreams could come true too, if they do not give up, but have faith in God and persistently pursue their dreams.
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The Life Of Faith From West Africa To Her American Dream
By Faith Mason
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2017 Faith
All rights reserved.
The lessons were challenging at Cavalla Firestone School; Faith studied hard and excelled academically. The school was a K-6 so it students graduated from the sixth grade and moved on to junior high school. In order to graduate from the school, students had to take and pass two major exams. Faith and her cousin and classmate, Budu passed the exams and graduated.
Everyone in the neighborhood was preparing to go to boarding schools that were located in the big city; it was an exciting time. Everyone in the in-group wanted to remain together and hoped they left no one behind from attending boarding schools in Harptown. Faith believed she was a member of the in-group because Mama held a high rank in the company — a schoolteacher. Most of the in-group students were children of staffs, who held high ranks within the company.
Faith watched Mama as she prepared her cousin Budu to leave for boarding school; most of their friends were leaving also. Faith waited patiently to start packing her things also. All Faith's friends thought that she and her cousin would be going with them to boarding school. Faith recalled that she and Budu, her cousin had never been apart before his leaving home for boarding school. Faith looked at him as one would a biological brother because they had grown up together in the same family, in the same home, received the same training from the same parents.
To Faith's surprise, her cousin left for boarding school without her. What was even more hurtful was the fact that everyone else, in her circle of friendship, also left for boarding schools. Faith was the only one left at home from the group. She cried and wondered how that could have happened to her. She thought that Mama and Dada had always treated Budu and her equally; why treat her unequally now? Frustrated, disappointed, Faith packed some of her little belongings and left the home of Mama and Dada Paul. Faith knew that the event did not support her American Dream but she did not know exactly how she would pull her dream off.
At age ten, Faith overheard adults talking about how Mrs. Finley, a highly educated and powerful Liberian woman became power because she was educated in the United States of America. From that day until her teenage years, Faith developed a burning desire to be like Mrs. Finley. Faith diligently nurtured and guarded her American Dream from doubting naysayers — her best friends, siblings, parents, who ridiculed and viewed her as being silly for dreaming such an impossible dream. She had built a mental fortress, around her dream and believed that the ruffians of poverty could not penetrate it.
However, one day, the goblin of poverty assaulted and shattered the foundation of Faith's belief and left her teetering on the brink of hopelessness, wondering if she would ever attain her American Dream. Mama and Dada Paul, who reared Faith and her teenage cousin, Budu, sent Budu off to boarding school, but left Faith, at home, to attend a poor-performing public school. Faith felt discriminated against so she left Mama and Dada and ventured out, into the world, in a meandering pursuit of her dream. Who was Faith and where did she come from?
Faith was born in Cavalla Firestone Hospital in Maryland County, Liberia, where her mother, Ms. Scott worked. Faith was Ms. Scott's third child and she was the only child of Mr. Lewis, her father. Ms. Scott was from Cape Palmas, Maryland County, and Mr. Lewis was from Monrovia, Montserrado County. Faith's both parents were Liberians.
Mr. Lewis emigrated from Monrovia to his farm, in Buah, Maryland County. He had a large farm there and grew rice, rubber, different kinds of fruits and cocoa. Mr. Lewis had a cousin who also emigrated from Monrovia to work for Cavalla Firestone Company and his name was Mr. Paul. Mr. Lewis visited his cousin occasionally and they were the only two relatives of their family who lived in Maryland County. Mr. Lewis met Ms. Scott on one of his visits with his cousin Mr. Paul and they started communication. They both became very serious in their relationship and gave birth to Faith.
Before Faith was a year old, a woman named Mother Annie asked Faith's mother if Faith could live with her in a city called Harptown. Mother Annie had no children and felt she could give Faith the best of care. Ms. Scott had two other children and she was a single mother struggling to raise them.
Mother Annie loved Faith very much and provided her with the best. One time Mr. Lewis sent Boimah one of his workers from his farm to bring supplies for Faith, and she was not present at her home. The man went back to the farm and reported to Mr. Lewis that Faith was living with a woman in another city. Mr. Lewis was furious, and came down from his farm to get Faith from Mother Annie's home. Mother Annie felt so badly about the situation and cried. Because Mother Annie had emotionally bonded with Faith, she grieved the separation.
Although Mr. Lewis was living on his farm, yet he did not want Faith reared on a farm. There were no schools nearby and the ones that were further were not up to his expectations. He felt that Faith would do well in a better environment like Cavalla Firestone where his cousin lived. He took Faith to live with his cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Paul, endearingly called Mama and Dada. In Cavalla Firestone, there was electricity, running water, and the school was the best in the area.
Mama taught at the Cavalla Firestone School where Faith attended. Faith was enjoying a good life there. Dada and Mama reared Faith with their grandchildren, who were Faith's cousins — Jeanne, and Budu. All of these youngsters, Faith included, were preschooler. Faith's brother, Lowelling, who was younger, later came from their Dad Lewis' farm to live with Mama and Dada also. Therefore, the number of children in the home raised to four. Faith, her cousins and her brother celebrated their birthdays together; they looked forward to the holidays and other such celebrations with each other.
Faith and her peers wore beautiful outfits that Mama sewed; Mama was a great tailor and taught sewing to many women in the area. Faith and her peers sometimes went to the children dances or movies at the clubhouse. Her childhood was unforgettable and she truly enjoyed life with Mama and Dada. They were her parents as a child, as she saw her actual parents only occasionally.
Faith's Mama and Dada had six children Lawrence, Jane, Mary, Lorraine, Princess, and Amelia. In time, they all grew up and left home. Some of them married and lived in Monrovia, Liberia's capital. Therefore, Mama and Dada focused their attention, energy and love on rearing Faith, and all the other children who lived in the home. Mama had two other older children, who lived in the home. Most of the parents, who lived out on farms that had no electricity, running water, and good schools brought their children to live with people who could offer education. This was a common practice in Liberia for parents from the villages to bring their children to live with people in the city, where they could obtain good education and training. These children helped with house chores and worked well. Because these children's parents wanted them to receive good education and training, a lot of them worked hard to excel. They made their parents proud.
Mama received her bachelors in education from the University of Liberia. She was a true educator, and every child who came to live with her attended Cavalla Firestone School. She was also a disciplinarian, and the training that she gave prepared all who lived with her, Faith included, for the outside world.
Faith felt that the hurt of forfeiting her right to a boarding school was too much to bear so she needed to leave the Paul's home and go to a place where she could process what had just happened to her. If she knew of a better place to go besides the home of her biological parents, she could have gone there instead. Without an alternative, Faith returned to her biological parent, with whom she hardly spent time nor knew, as she thought, she knew Mama and Dada. She was disappointed and devastated because Mama and Dada had shattered her trust and belief that she was an equally important member of the Paul's family.
Denied the right to attend boarding school, like other members of the family, Faith could not understand why the sudden discrimination. Faith left Cavalla Firestone without Mama and Dada's knowledge and went to her biological mother, who lived in a town called Pleaville. Faith could not bear staying in Pleaville without her peers. Faith stayed with her mother for two weeks when the news came that her great-grandmother, Ma Wede died in Harptown. Some relatives of Faith's mother came from Monrovia to Harptown for the funeral; Faith and her mother left Pleaville for Harptown to join the other family members, at Faith's great-grandmother home where she lived until her death.
After the funeral, Cousin Annabel told Faith's mother that she would bring Faith to live with her in Monrovia, where Faith's father family lived. This was Faith's third move. Faith was excited that she would meet some of her father's relatives whom she had not met. Cousin Annabel and Faith left, a week after the funeral.CHAPTER 2
PUT OUT IN MONROVIA
In Monrovia, Cousin Annabel sent Faith to a private school called B. Harrison School. She did very well in her lessons and was very happy there. There were four categories of schools in Liberia those days. In this ascending order of academic and social stratification, they comprised of the following: Night school for working adults who studied to get a high school certificate; public schools, for those who could not afford the high tuitions and costs of the boarding or private school — private and boarding school were the ones social elites could afford. At school, one day, Faith ran into Bernice, a young woman, who had the same last name as Faith — Lewis. Faith had never heard of another person with her surname except her brother and sister, who lived in Maryland County, where she grew up.
Faith told Bernice that her father's name was Mr. Abraham Lewis, and then Bernice told her that she has an uncle by the name. Bernice asked that Faith wait a few minutes after school so that she could introduce Faith to her father, who was picking her up. The man turned out to be Faith's uncle and he was happy to meet Faith. Uncle Lewis told Faith that she looked like her dad. He also told Faith that her father had asked him to look for her in Monrovia because he did not know where to find her.
Faith's dad, Mr. Lewis was worried about her and was happy when he learned that his brother found her. Faith's uncle, Ben Lewis came to look for Faith at Cousin Annabel's home and he was happy when he saw her environment and knew that Cousin Annabel was caring for Faith very well. Uncle Ben came by, after a week, and brought part of Faith's tuition for B. Harrison School. The Lewis Family had sold some of their properties and divided the money between the relatives. Faith's father share of the money was what her uncle Ben gave Cousin Annabel to help with Faith's tuition. Faith's dad was happy that she was in contact with her uncle Ben and he decided that he would come to see her soon. All her dad's relatives lived in Monrovia and Dada was the only one she knew and lived with.
At Cousin's Annabel's home, Faith encountered some problems. Every time Cousin Annabel's friend Mr. Lee a married man, who was a well-known politician, in the country, came to visit, he would ask that Faith ride with him and their baby, Leroy for ice cream. When Faith accompanied him and the baby, he always tried to touch her inappropriately, and she would scream. Faith grew up in a disciplined and moral household and did not expect that kind of behavior from anyone older. She hated this act and was afraid to tell Cousin Annabel.
When Faith moved to Monrovia, in her school, she gathered from conversations about men's sexual harassments of young women were not a topic that the community addressed. Instead, it was prestigious for young women to date older men of high status, whether they were married or not. Peers told Faith that talking about the matter, in one's household or community, often triggered the ire of the household or community against the person, who dared to bring up the topic; they labeled such person, a troublemaker.
Faith talked to one of her friends, Edith, but got no advice on how to handle the situation. It was something that was happening all the times to young women; it seemed like it was the norm. Faith often wondered why Cousin Annabel let her accompany Mr. Lee and their baby when there were others in the household. She often wondered whether Cousin Annabel knew what was happening to young women, or if she just wanted to keep her friend, Mr. Lee, at all costs. Of course, he was a good provider; she probably needed his help. Faith pondered a lot about what was going on because she had never experienced that kind of act when she lived with Mama and Dada.
Within a year, Faith's mother, Ms. Scott immigrated to Monrovia, where Faith lived, after Faith left her. She lived with her brother, whom Faith did not know well. Faith wanted to discuss with her mother what was happening to her at Cousin Annabel's house. Therefore, one day, after her school's parade, Faith decided to stop by and let her mother know about what was happening to her at Cousin Annabel's house. Faith's mother lived near where the parade took place, so she went to meet with her. She explained the situation to her mother, but her mother offered no advice. Faith assumed that her mother was familiar with what was happening in the city to young women and probably experienced it when she was a young woman also. Because she could not take care of Faith, her silence suggested that Faith should learn to cope with the annoyance of inappropriate touching.
When Faith got home, after meeting with her mother, Cousin Annabel asked why she had not come home immediately after the parade. She told Cousin Annabel that she went to see her mother. Annabel told Faith to pack her belongings and leave her house immediately. Faith was astonished because she had not spent a long time with her mother that day. She was sad because she knew that her mother could not afford her tuition and that she had only one room. Faith was, however, happy to get away from the inappropriate touching by Cousin Annabel's friend.
Faith's mother moved from her brother's to a house where she rented one room. Faith left Cousin Annabel that day and moved in with her mother and three siblings. This was Faith's fourth move. The area was okay, but Faith had to live with her three siblings in a congested one room. Faith had never lived that way before and could not comprehend doing so. There was hardly any food and everyone was practically on his or her own. Faith's mother was struggling and she got little help from her few relatives. Ms. Scott had no job; she had just relocated to Monrovia, in the hope of a better life, but her hope fizzled out. Things, instead, got tough for her as Faith's next set of troubles began.CHAPTER 3
Faith could not attend the private school and she received no assistance from anywhere. The customs of the time expected Faith to take care of her mother and her younger siblings, while she was still a teenager without money. Some of Faith's friends were hustling to take care of their parents and siblings by going out with men, who could take care of them, whether the men were married or not. Faith was not used to such a life because Mama and Dada had taken care of her when she lived with them. They also took care of their own children even up to their late teenage years.
Faith registered at the government school and she walked to school from her mother's new residence. She made many friends in the area. In fact, one of her mother's cousin, Alvina did not live far. She visited her frequently, and met many of her cousins. She also made good friends in the neighborhood; life was not so bad. Faith got meals at cousins Alvina's house sometimes when she was hungry; she also got moral support there.
Faith's Cousin, Mr. Paul (Dada) who raised her, in Cavalla Firestone, came to Monrovia to bury his sister, Cousin Laura. Faith went to visit him; he was happy to see her. This was the first time Faith had seen Dada since she left his home, in Cavalla Firestone, a year ago.
During the visit, Dada asked Faith to come dressed in black to attend Cousin Laura's funeral. Faith attended the funeral and stayed with Dada for a while, at Cousin Laura's house, after the funeral. Faith did not know that it would be the last time that she would see Dada; he passed not very long after, he returned to his home, in Harptown, Maryland County.
Faith visited Mama when she came to spend time, in Monrovia, with her daughter, Princess. Mama was happy to see Faith and decided to share some priceless feminine wisdom with blooming teenage. "Faith, I thing is about the right time for me to share some thoughts with you," Mama began.
"About whom, Mama?"
Excerpted from The Life Of Faith From West Africa To Her American Dream by Faith Mason. Copyright © 2017 Faith. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1 Childhood, 1,
Chapter 2 Put Out In Monrovia, 7,
Chapter 3 Teen Years, 11,
Chapter 4 Taking Care of Herself, 15,
Chapter 5 Night School, 19,
Chapter 6 Henry and Faith, 21,
Chapter 7 Back to Monrovia, 29,
Chapter 8 House of Miracle, 33,
Chapter 9 Working for Miracle, 37,
Chapter 10 Flashback, 43,
Chapter 11 Taxi Fare Nowhere to Go, 49,
Chapter 12 Trouble Again, 55,
Chapter 13 Going to the United States, 57,
Chapter 14 Working Again for Miracle Church, 61,
Chapter 15 Trip to the Ivory Coast, 65,
Chapter 16 More School and a Job, 69,
Chapter 17 Faith Met Mr Liberty, 71,
Chapter 18 A New Job, 77,
Chapter 19 More Education, 83,
Chapter 20 Education and the American Dream, 89,