Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Promise

Do you want to know why I helped get Enliven Mama Africa started? The real, true story?

I made a promise.

Two years ago, I went with Maxwell to Besease and spoke to a few women (including Rosina, Cynthia, and Martha, who are now studying the seamstress trade). Something in me was deeply moved. I knew already that I would be working on this project for a long while.

As we talked, argued, dreamed, schemed, made a preliminary budget, and constructed a website, I most looked forward to the days we were out in the field talking to our new friends. Even through the language barrier, I built a sort of rapport with the women of Besease.

At some point, it slipped out. I told the women what we were thinking. I told them when we planned to help them start learning trades. I promised them it would happen. For an eighteen-year-old with no job and little knowledge about social enterprise, it was a very foolish promise to make.

Had I not made that promise, Enliven Mama Africa would not be what it is today. If I hadn't promised my friends they would learn trades, I might not have worked so hard to be sure it would happen. I might still be dreaming.

It is foolish, stupid even, to promise someone something you don't have yet. I guarantee you, if I was in the same situation even a year into college, I would not have promised the women of Besease anything.

Why am I so excited and passionate about Enliven Mama Africa? Is it because I have some special knowledge about the experience of Ghanaian women? Is it because I am particularly wealthy and want to share my goods with the "less fortunate"? Or because I have a savior complex and want to rescue people from ambiguous troubles?

No, no, and no.

I made a promise. I promised the women of Besease, who I respect and admire, that I would find a way for them to learn a trade.

These mothers are amazing. As you are reading this, they are learning to create beautiful dresses and trousers. They are caring for their children in the spare time they have, hoping for a bright future.

I made a promise, and we followed through together.

Help us continue following through: 

-Sarah Bibbey, Co-Founder, Enliven Mama Africa


  1. Hi, I recently read through Lydia's blog and was redirected to her tumblr, which brought me to search for info on EMA. It is a really great project and I can relate to so much of what you have said in this blog. I look forward to getting updates (I like your facebook page) and keeping up to date on the happenings of EMA!
    I will send you a ton of positive energy for the future of EMA and if ever we are in Ghana at the same time, I would love to meet up!