“My problem, my dear, is that I have seen too much. And I remember too much while sometimes I should just forget. Then being a woman is different in different times. When I was growing up, before the War, being a girl meant that you go to school and you should be nice. Then when I was at the university it usually meant that you have your lover and you are building your personal life. When you get married, it meant that you have to create a good environment for you family and when you work it meant that you need to be at least as good as men in the office, otherwise you will just fail. Now, when I am old, it means that I am still healthier and more alive than most men around me…now it changed, now it is better to be a woman. The middle and the late age is the time when we start appreciating all that we achieved. It is also the time when we start valuing the challenges of life and the power that we found inside ourselves to overcome it. Having a child made love grow in my heart that cannot be compared to anything I have ever experienced. Then real female friends belong to my life. These are those who help you to be a person that you want to become. My resolutions that I have been striving to achieve in my life are: to love with full heart, not to judge others, to enrich lives of my close-ones, to make friends with new people, to eliminate my negatives and change whatever unfortunate into something better. Not to be a woman would be very sad to me. ”
Jaroslava, 86, was growing up at the borders between the Czech Republic and Germany, when this area, so called Sudeten, were invaded by the Nazis during the World War 2. After the War, despite wanting to study medicine, personal challenges made her opt for pedagogy and she later became a high school teacher in her village. When her father died as a political prisoner during communism, she moved with her son to Prague without any possessions. She started teaching again and gradually became a director of a department for methodologies of teaching at the Ministry of Education. Despite many further challenges in life, she never stopped learning. She became a newspaper editor in her sixties and conducted one of the first gender researches in education in the country. She is a proud member of Sokol movement, an all-age gymnastics organization, and regularly practices yoga. A year ago she was still able to put her legs behind her back. Due to a vein inflammation she is currently in danger of having her leg amputated.
Picture credits: Kim Bergen