Education

Mentee to Mentor: Fatima’s story as a symbol of transformation and empowerment

Fatima Yahaya Abdullahi embarked on a transformative journey that would not only change her life but also illuminate the path of success for countless others. Her story, which started with the Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative (IWEI’s) safe spaces, is a testament to the profound impact of mentorship and the resilience of the human spirit.

Fatima, with a voice that resonates with strength, recounts the beginning of her growth. “My journey started when I was a mentee in one of IWEI’s safe spaces,” she begins as she reflects on the memories of a time when reading, writing, and speaking English were distant dreams. Yet, through the guiding light of a mentor, Fatima not only learned to navigate the intricate world of language but also discovered the power of education to break the chains of circumstance. She was determined to not give up but to keep going. 

In a family where the constraints of tradition often overshadowed educational milestones, Fatima emerged as a beacon of change. “I am the only girl that completed school in my family and even went beyond secondary school,” she proudly declares. Her journey, however, is laced with the truth that all her sisters were married off before completing their secondary education – which was a bit different for her who got to finish secondary school and even went to an advanced level.

Fuelled by a sense of purpose and an acute awareness of the struggles within her community, Fatima transitioned from mentee to mentor. Her eyes were opened to the plight of girls like her, born into poor backgrounds with limited access to quality education. “I noticed a lot of problems in my community,” she reveals, her empathy shaping her willpower and her dedication to her mission.

Determined to be a catalyst for change, Fatima took the courageous step of opening her own safe space. Here, within the embrace of her community, she began to sow the seeds of inspiring others. “I think I have a role that I can play in their lives by mentoring them and ensure they get access to that quality education that they lack,” she asserts, her voice carrying the weight of responsibility and hope.

Fatima’s safe spaces multiplied, a testament to her unwavering commitment. “I opened my own safe spaces, and now I opened another one,” she shares, with a sense of fulfillment and achievement in her words. Not content with personal victories, she became a mentor not just to individuals but a guide for an entire community. “I trained a lot of mentors and my own community mentors. They now run their safe spaces,” she narrates, a ripple effect of empowerment expanding through the tapestry of lives she touches.

With each passing day, Fatima monitors the growth of the safe spaces she initiated, recognizing that her journey has become a communal one. “I’m always happy to be a mentor because I’m making positive changes in the lives of girls and children,” she concludes, a testament to the joy found in service, in resilience, and in the unwavering belief that every life touched is a step towards a brighter, more equitable future.

Fatima’s was a 14 year old girl in senior secondary school when she joined IWEI’s safe spaces. She could barely understand when spoken to in the english language talk less of responding. She said”sometimes I would cry when I returned home becausFatima, with a voice that resonates with strength, recounts the beginning of her growth. “My journey started when I was a mentee in one of IWEI’s safe spaces,” she begins as she reflects one I felt really bad that I could not understand what was being said to me and it had to be translated. This made me determined to learn and I was lucky to have the support of a mentor. 

“I am the only girl among my sisters that completed school in my family and even went beyond secondary school,” she proudly declares. Her sisters were married off before completing their secondary education – which was a bit different for her who got to finish secondary school and even went to an advanced level.

Fuelled by a sense of purpose and an acute awareness of the struggles within her community, Fatima transitioned from mentee to mentor. Her eyes were opened to the plight of girls like her, born into poor backgrounds with limited access to quality education. “I noticed a lot of problems in my community,” she reveals, her empathy shaping her willpower and her dedication to her mission.

Determined to be a catalyst for change, Fatima took the courageous step of opening her own safe space. Here, within the embrace of her community, she began to sow the seeds of inspiring others. “I think I have a role that I can play in their lives by mentoring them and ensure they get access to that quality education that they lack,” she asserts, her voice carrying the weight of responsibility and hope.

Fatima has become a role model for girls in her community, some of whom now also support other girls with their education in the safe spaces she has opened.  Fatima is now not only a mentor but also a facilitator at IWEI, where she sometimes represents the organisation to train other mentors within and outside the organisation.

“I’m always happy to be a mentor because I’m making positive changes in the lives of girls and children,” she concludes. Fatima shows the power of education if girls are supported.