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Ann Dunham was the mother of Barack Obama, who became the 44th president of the United States and the first African-American to hold this office.
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Bored by the domestic, traditional course her marriage had taken, Ann intensified her focus on formal education. She began teaching English in the American Embassy. In the mornings she would give Barack Jr. his English lessons, and in the evenings she would give him books on civil rights and play him Mahalia Jackson's gospel songs.
When her son was 10 years old, Ann sent him back to Hawaii to attend prep school and reside with his grandparents. One year later, Ann and her daughter also returned to Hawaii. Here she enrolled in graduate school at the University of Hawaii to study cultural anthropology of Indonesian peoples. In 1980 she would file for divorce against her husband Lolo.
After several years of schooling, Ann Soetoro returned to Indonesia for doctoral level fieldwork. Wishing to remain with his grandparents, 14-year-old Barack Obama Jr. declined to join his mother. Once back in Indonesia, Soetoro began working for the Ford Foundation studying women's employment concerns. From 1988 to 1992 Soetoro helped install a microfinance program in Indonesia where small business owners could gain small loans. Many credit Soetoro's research with informing fiscal lending policies, making Indonesia a world leader in microfinance loans.
Through the years, Ann and her daughter would move around the world to Pakistan, New York, and back to Hawaii. In 1992 Ann Soetoro finally finished her doctoral dissertation: a 1,000-page analysis of peasant blacksmithing. In 1994 during a dinner party in Jakarta, Soetoro complained of stomach pains. Months later she was diagnosed with ovarian and uterine cancer. She died on November 7, 1995 at the age of 52.
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