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Muslim Aid Media Centre

International Day of the Girl Child

Hi, my name is Fatou and I come from a small town called Bakau in Gambia. At 20, I’m a fortunate lady to be working for the charity Africa Relief for Response & Development (ARRDO). However, my life could have been very different.

My story with the organisation begins in the summer of 2007. I lost both my parents at a young age and my memories of them are vague. I was fortunate enough to be taken in by my aunt and her husband. Although they did their best to look after me, it was a struggle with three children living in a cramped rented accommodation, with only one meal a day. To add to this, my aunt’s husband was unable to work due to illness and we depended on my aunt’s limited income.

I was 12 years old when my life changed forever. ARRDO a partner of Muslim Aid UK selected me to be part of the Rainbow Family child sponsorship programme. Being part of this family meant I was no longer the odd one out at school. I was given school provisions, a new uniform, medical care and food. This enabled me to attend school regularly, not fearing it would end because of unpaid school fees.

I went on to graduate school with excellent grades and the determination to be successful in whatever I do. Since graduating from school I have completed a certificate in Gender and Development and a diploma in International Relations and Politics, then finally majoring in developing studies. These achievements were things I could only ever dream of, had it not been for the Rainbow Family Programme and ARRDO.

Since completing my educational studies, I have taken the initiative to volunteer with a number of NGO’s conducting health workshops in schools and communities on topics such as Malaria, HIV and AIDS. Then the opportunity arose to work with the organisation that helped me so many years ago, ARRDO. I now work with sponsored children, just like I was, providing training in health and life skills, and mentoring and empowering them through their education.

Having experienced poverty first hand I am determined to make a difference and serve my community. My dream is to continue to support the rainbow family programme and empower young girls and boys to complete school and achieve their dreams.

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