This is Part 2 of Lydie Livolsi’s interview with hosts Ken Rochon and Andrea Adams-Miller on Amplified radio show on VoiceAmerica
Lydie: well, again, thank you so much. My name is Lydie Livolsi. I was born in Cameroon in a very happy family and basically what's happened very early in my life was that I had my dad, my mom, my grandmother, my aunts, my uncles, everything was doing great until I started going to Kindergarten school, and I can remember very, very well. I was like around maybe six, my dad brought me into a nightclub and people were, Oh, no, Mr. my dad's first name was, Ignace.
Oh, Mr. Ignace, you can't bring a child here in the nightclub. He said, no, it's my daughter. I have the rights to bring my daughter wherever I want. So, they let him a come in with me. So, we went inside and he always liked talking to people. I want my daughter not to be shy. I don't want my daughter to be shy. That's why I'm coming here with her so she can dance with other people.
And I enjoyed dancing. I danced I danced. And then we left. And few months later, my dad told me, you know, he’s sick. He needs to go to the hospital. And he said he will be back. So that I was seven years young.
January 1st, 1975, my dad passed away. We did not come back home. So, I can remember I saw him the last time I was seven, and then it's his casket that came back home. So, my dad was the ideal and beloved son in - law for my grandmother. He was loved by my grandmother, my aunts, my uncles, etc. People loved him because he was handsome, very smart, very responsible, and, at his funerals, I remember seeing my aunts, my grandmother, and my mom completely devastated specially, sad because of my future. I was just 11. My future was destroyed. I also learned at my dad funerals, that I had other siblings from other mothers: I realized that my dad was polygamist, that he had many wives (for sure, more than 3). I didn't know that before, therefore, I didn’t know at that moment what really polygamy was. And I also found out that I was my dad and my mom youngest child. That’s what my family members were worried about. my family members crying. People were pointing their fingers on me, desperately crying, how my life as an orphan will be so difficult.
I hold a photograph of my dad. They were crying: “Oh! look at her. She is so young. What is she going to be? What is she going to become?”
It was so painful, to go through all these cries. This was my first tough life experience. At that moments, it shut down the door of believing in a God. I asked myself, how this could happen. When my dad was sick, my mom was at the hospital with him, and, I was living only with my siblings including my sister Helen. She believes in god. We were praying every day, every night, and then I said, what's the point. I prayed all these years, four years and half, and this is my dad burial! I don’t have a dad forever! There's no way I will believe in God. So, at that moment, something very important happened: it shut down the window to the faith in god forever in my soul. Since then, I don’t believe in god. How can a god take away forever a father from a little girl! If there is a god with this type of behavior, then I am out.
After the funeral, my mom had to go through some very tough traditional ceremonies for widows. It was pathetic to see what she has had to go through as a widow. I mean, in terms of the tradition, it was horrible for a woman. seeing all of that, I swore to myself that I will never follow this type of humiliating tradition.
Andrea: Yeah. Lydie, You know, hearing, your story and hearing, what you had to go through, it really shows how you've been so strong now, to find this way to help other people with their dental issues and so forth.
And because we, with the time that we have, we wanted to make sure that people understand what you're doing now to make that difference. So is that okay if we bring you a little bit forward to how you are doing the work with the dental care.
Ken: And also, I do have, I have a question. Was your dad's death anything related to the book title that you have? Was it anything to do with dental?
Lydie: No. Not directly. In fact, the person who really brought me into the dental field, was my dad’s mother. You see: my grandmother. That was the point. So basically, what happened, was that I saw her only one time, and then she passed away. And I can remember my aunt, saying “oh my gosh, her mouth smells so bad”. It stayed in my brain “oh my gosh, her mouth smells so bad”. As a little girl, it really intrigued me. I was 8 years young.
Then I went to school and later, it was my grandmother from my mother's side who actually pushed me to the dental industry. Basically, she had only two teeth left in her mouth: 2 canines on her upper jaw. Yeah. One of my older sisters, was dentist at the time. Now she retired. My grandmother liked to eat crunchy roasted peanuts.
One day she asked my dentist sister: please can you make my teeth? You went to Europe to learn to become a dentist, I want you to make my teeth so that I can eat. I can chew these roasted peanuts because I do not have teeth. While she was asking this favor to my sister, she has to bow on the stone and blend the roasted peanuts on the stone to get peanuts better because there was no electricity, no a blender in the house back then.
And my sister responded: well, I am a dental tech. I'm not a teeth manufacturer. That is why, we are looking for a way to send Lydie in France to study how to make teeth. So, my grandmother was very excited that I will be going to France to learn to making teeth, so, I will come back home and make her teeth. Long story short, we did everything. My sister helped me find this private dental school in France. Then I flew to France. I took and passed the entry test etc. and start my 4 years program in South France in 1987.
I got it in that school with a goal to learn how to make teeth so I can go back in Cameroon, and make teeth for my grandmother, so she could enjoy chewing roasted peanuts. Unfortunately, the next year, in spring, I received a phone call a night, announcing to me, that my grandmother passed away.
I was, devastated. In the summer, I flew back in Cameroon, I went on her grave, and I pledged: “well, grandma, I was not able to make your teeth as I promised to you. Today, I pledge that, I will make teeth for all people in the world to honor you” then I left. I flew back to France and that was the beginning of this journey.
Ken: Lydie, I want to just, make sure we cover some of your book as you were kind enough to send it out to me. And, this book is impressive on a lot of levels. First of all, the fact that it's in full color, that had to be a little bit of extra money to print it, is that true?
Lydie: Absolutely. Yes. It is always more expensive to print a book with color images. But, in the meantime, it looks great and colors make easy to identify objects.
Ken: Yeah, it's a, it's a 140-page book and full color. And it has lots and lots of examples for people like me that need to see diagrams, pictures, procedures, before and after pictures etc. So, what I want to make sure because we are down to maybe four or five minutes instead of me guessing what, things to that would be most important to talk to you about in your book? Why don't you, pick one or two of the topics in the book that would actually entice people to go on Amazon to buy. I'm guessing the book is on Amazon, right?
Lydie: Yes. My book is available on Amazon.
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