"For me girls have a kind of power to make a change, if girls decide to do something for a community, for a country, they give others a chance and an opportunity to succeed. The power of girls is unlimited."
Not only is she one of our ambassadors and a key part of Girls Empowherment, Safiatou Dorcas Ouedraogo is a role model for girls around the world. Safiatou has lived in Burkina Faso, West Africa all of her life. Africa has the highest poverty rate in the world, at 27.4%, compared to a world average of 9.3%. Not only that, Burkina Faso is home to some of the most impoverished communities in the world.
When she was young Safiatou lived in a very poor area in her country. She saw boys and girls dropping out of school in 6th and 7th grade because their parents could not pay for their education. Many girls also dropped out and turned to prostitution while boys went into the dangerous field of mining to try get some money for the family. However, Safiatou’s father showed her the importance of an education and always encouraged her to work hard.
From a young age Sifatou wanted to help those in the community that did not have the same support system that she did. When Safiatou moved to another area, she got the opportunity to go to a university and she told herself that when she graduates, she was going to go back and make a difference in her community. One specific boy that sparked a lifetime of advocacy and philanthropy for Safiatou was Romeard. He has three siblings and his parents work very hard to support them. But when his mother lost her job he dropped out of school in the middle of just third grade, to go and work in mining. However, he got on the wrong path and started taking drugs and stopped going to work.
Safiatou says that she works so hard in school so that she can help kids like Romeard with so much potential but have fallen down the wrong path. In her free time she works with other kids to help them with their school work to try and keep them on the right path so they do not make the same choices as Romeard. She also hosts events for kids with free food and drinks. To many this may seem normal but with such a high poverty rate in Africa for many children that may be the only meal they have that day. At her first event Safiatou had over 100 kids their and has not stopped yet. Safiatou advocates for education because without an education they will never reach their full potential.
When I was little, I lived in a poor area in my country where so many bad things happened to girls. Parents don’t have money to send their children to schools. Around the time of 6th or 7th grade, many girls leave school for this reason and turn to prostitution. Boys will give them a little money just to have sex with them, money that these girls need. I see these kinds of things all the time. My father went to school when he was young. He understands the importance of education, so he encourages me to work very hard. When I see the prositution and what happens to girls, I think “no, it's not good because the government can give money to let all girls and kids to go to school”. For me, we moved to another area. I got the opportunity to go to university, so I said, “why don’t I help these young girls to succeed too”. I tried to encourage them to work hard in school, so that they will have a better future. This was hard, because, for kids in Africa, they give up very easily. Many kids turn to mining. I can think of an example of a kid who worked in mining for maybe 8-10 years. For example, Romuald is a boy in 3rd grade. He said to me “I don’t want to go to school again, I want to work”. Image a boy who was in 3rd grade who wanted to work. The family did not have much money, the mom sold liquer juice so that the kids could go to school. She is the only one in the family who takes care of her kids (husband does not work). Romauld left school and was working in learning mechanics. Sometimes he does not go there, he stays on the streets and plays. He started to take drugs. I see these kinds of things all the time, so I said “I can do something, because I want to help kids in my community”. I try to call them one by one in my house. I say “if you have some homework you can come and I can help you with your work”. As my country speaks french, I say “I can help you with english”. I wanted them to start early. Many of them are poor, many have no money. They can’t have food to eat when they come back from school. I’m not working as an organization, just a little help I have for them. I say “maybe if I find an organization who can help me to help them”. In 2018, I choose to make a christmas party for them, which was one of the best things, it was amazing. I cooked meals for them and they danced. I was working as a part time worker and got money and said “I can do something for them”. I said “I only want 100 kids to come, so many more showed up”. They need someone who can encourage them. Today, education is very important and you can’t do anything without education. I love Michelle Obama: she likes education and particularly girls education. It is very important to let girls be educated, and to let them go to school. In my country in Africa, if girls don’t go to school they will do bad things like prostitution, taking drugs, and more. They need to be educated, they need to go to school, they need to learn, and they need to get the best jobs. That is my fighting.