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About the Author

Jana Cavojska
photojournalist and writing reporter (Bratislava, Slovakia)

Lawyer by education, photojournalist and writing reporter now. Working for the best sold Slovak weekly magazine Plus7dni and occasionaly also for another weekly and monthly magazines in Slovakia (including streetpaper Nota bene distributed by homeless people). Member of board of trustees of Slovak non - profit organisation Človek v ohrození - People in Peril Association providing developing and humanitarian aid in 25 countries all over the world. Usually I report about people and their stories in different parts of the world. In my blog I would like to speak about the virtue of the "common" people in difficult life situations and about developing help which is really help and not just giving. You can see my photos on my website or in my facebook profile.


Mamma Kahola

Published 21st July 2010 - 8 comments - 2289 views -

You have nice family, house, what more do you need, friends and relatives were asking to her. Little golf, little bridge like other retirees, it´s enough. But she went to Africa. She is 79 years old and in Uganda teaches women and girls to read, write, make potery. And to live.

„When I came first time to Uganda, I asked to my girls: what are your dreams? But they didn´t have any dreams. In their tribe there are no dreams. Just traditions are important. My girls have their dreams now. They dream about love, children, marriage and career.“ Missis Carola Trengler is smiling while she speaks about her pupils. This lady from Austria changed comfort in her family house for simply accomodation somewhere in bush, where sometimes is no electricity, she needs to filter the water and sometimes must cure from malaria. Her girls are not able to speak „r“. They call her „mamma Kahola“.

In the past, long ago, was missis Carola an artist. She worked with potery, made small works of art and decorated facades and bathrooms. Seven years ago her husband died. „My thoughts came to Africa,“ she said. „My plan was to work from Austria. To collect some money here and sometimes to travel there. But Africa needs the whole man. That´s why I am living in Uganda for four years.“

In mission in Mukono region seven „white“ women are working. They teach at girl school. Their pupils should later teach another girls and women. „Men will change nothing in old ways of life,“ says missis Carola. „Only women can change things. They are willing to work hard.“

Mamma Kahola stays in the mission every Christmas. They guard their girls. In this time some tribes make circumcision to the girls. This cruel tradition is forbidden by law in Uganda but people are doing it anyway. Woman without circumcision is proscribed. She cannot drink milk or eat with other people. „Circumcision is a big festival for a girl. She gets new nice dress. Father take her to the river to wash and then give her home-made beer. Girl is zonked, cannot defend.“ Often mothers keep this tradition alive. They let to circumcise their doughters and tell to their sons not to marry girl without circumcision. But there are also exceptions. „A woman with her daughter came to our mission once,“ says missis Carola. „She was walking long distance because wanted to hide the little girl. Mother asked for taking her doughter to our orphanage. Her husband wanted to circumcise the girl but mother wanted to save her. She remembered horor of her circumcision and also death of her sister after it.“

This cruel tradition will not disappear from day to day, no law or punishment will stop it. But there is one good project in Uganda. They give good equipment to women practising circumcision and show them how to make only small symbolic cut on girls genitals. This is working: tribes preserve their traditions and women are not harmed.

„I always screen video about circumcision to men,“ smiles mamma Kahola. „Man who has two wives, one with circumcison and one without, speaks in video that sex is much better with that one who is not cutted. And this men understand the best.“



Category: Aid | Tags:


  • Luan Galani on 21st July 2010:

    What else may I say? Just great piece of writing. And what a sad situation. But it is changing. Great.
    Gave me hope.

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 22nd July 2010:

    Thanks for this Jana. It reminded me of the book by Waris Dirie, the Desert Flower. It’s a good read about the plight of African women caught in a web of cruel tradition.

  • Iwona Frydryszak on 22nd July 2010:

    Jana, when were you in Uganda? Where interestin story and I like the idea of the only small symbolic…

  • Helena Goldon on 23rd July 2010:

    Jana, thanks for this post.
    Not many of the Ugandan tribes practice female circumcision, though.
    Mainly Bagisu in the East.

  • Hanna Clarys on 24th July 2010:

    The last paragraph is great, however it is kind of sad that men are influenced by the desire to have good sex more than by the desire to respect the women’s rights and dignity.

  • Jana Cavojska on 24th July 2010:

    yes, hanna, it is crazy, sad, ruthless… we must just hope that mentality of that men will be changing - for better lives of their women

  • Sylwia Presley on 25th July 2010:

    Really good story again!

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