“Our Moon made a breakthrough for me possible. Today, I am a university undergraduate in one of the top universities in Canada. I am living my own dream. My ambition is to give a voice to the women in my society.”
It hasn’t been an easy journey for Ashley. When she was just two years old, her mother died from AIDS. Her father was also diagnosed with AIDS and couldn’t work.
He arranged for his two daughters to be married – Ashley was only eight years old – and sent them away to the villages where their husbands lived in return for a bag of vegetables. She was due to be married once she reached the age of 12.
Just before her birthday, she talked to her teacher about her plight. Fortunately for Ashley, her teacher managed to trace and contact her grandfather who agreed that he would take Ashley and her sister as he needed looking after – he was also dying from AIDS. The teacher helped the two girls escape. Ashley went to school by day and was his carer by night.
The opportunities for her to get involved in clubs and societies at school were a turning point in her life. She drew respect from her classmates when she taught them about how to protect themselves from HIV/ AIDS and gave her account of what it is like to live with AIDS, based on her experience of caring for her grandfather. She also learnt about the need to empower women and to stop allowing child marriages.
Ashley is studying Sociology at University of British Columbia in Canada. Keen to make a difference, she is working part time while studying, with indigenous Canadians, to help them with their Issues. She was initially very surprised that western people could live like they do.
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