Welcome to yet another edition of Children’s corner. In today’s edition we are going to feature the interview we had with Ms. Fatoumatta Samateh alias Fatimah Zahra, a student child rights activist and the founder of Zahra Love For Children a Charitable organization.
She will be talking about her dedication to child rights, Autism and the challenges children face in her community.
Zahra: Hello, my name is Fatoumata Samateh, alias Fatimah Zahra Samateh, I am the founder of Zahra Love For Children, a Charitable organization. I am born and brought up in Gambia in a place called “Tallinding”. I’m 18 years old attending Gambia Senior Secondary School, I am also an Arabic school graduate. I’m living with my family.
Children’s Corner: You have dedicated your life to child rights. Kindly give us the motivation behind such a great personal commitment?
Zahra: I just love children for no reason. I always feel good when I’m with kids, they make my world so bright. I detest seeing children suffering, especially when I know I can’t help it. It really churns my heart. Every child has the right to live no matter what their capacity is. Let’s Fight against autism.
Children with autism are discriminated, laughed at, etc. simply because they are infected. Every child needs to feel a sense of belonging. Together we can put an end to this. Among the reasons why I decided to come up with a foundation is to help children, less privileged kids to be precise. There was this particular day, I went to the Serrekunda market with my friend. It was then I felt thirsty and I saw this beautiful innocent girl selling water bags. I called and then I give her D10 to buy two bags of water. While she was giving me my change I saw a severe wound on her right hand.
I asked her, “Girl what happened to you, why is this wound on your hand?” Though she felt reluctant to talk about it but after several persuasions she said and I quote “My mother did it to me.” I was like what?? Is she your biological mother? She said yes, but I doubt she is her biological mother. I was really shocked I went further to ask her: Why did your mother do this to you. She responded and I quote, “There was this particular day I went to sell water, while I was going home I dropped off the sales money unknowingly. I searched thoroughly for it but I couldn’t find it. When I reached home I explained it to my mother and she got angry and beat me up and she later took a knife and pinched me with it, saying ‘you won’t do it again’. This almost got me crying.
Since that day I say to myself I think I can do something. Even though I can’t eradicate it totally, I can make a little change. This is how I started the foundation and ‘Alhamdulilah’ it is getting better by the day.
Children’s Corner: Moving on to another key dimension, what are some of the challenges that children face in your community and its surrounding.
Zahra: Kids face or go through lots of constraints. Some kids lose their parents at a very tender age and have no one to take care of them. They are left in the street roaming around, and they have no chance of going to school and these things make them feel isolated and segregated. Growing up in these kinds of environment and conditions make them become bad boys. We are seeing it today, thieves, robbers, etc. And definitely a country cannot develop without its youths, therefore it is a collective responsibility to shape the children so they will become better citizens of their country.
Another problem that’s affecting our children is lack of encouragement. Children love to be encouraged in the things they do (positive things occurs); it helps them to be better as time goes on. Children love it when they are told they are doing something magnificent; it keeps them going and makes them work even harder.
Children’s Corner: On my final question, what intentions or plans have on your list with regards to your work as an advocate?
Zahra: We having lots of things in mind but since we’re not financially strong, we want to start by going to the orphanage because the last time we went there we found out that they also need help. They also not financially okay. We also help in paying the school fees of less privileged children and providing school materials for school children such as book, pens, pencils, colours, set boxes, etc. It won’t stop, there we will also go the Madrassas (‘Dara’) and give them a helping hand. We are hoping to have people to come on board to support this great course because I alone can’t do it. I’m still a student so it is not easy, but ‘Alhamdulilah’. Let’s make the world a better place for the children. Every child has the right to live no matter what their capacity. Together we can make a change.
Children’s Corner: Thank you for your time.
Zahra: I’ll say a big thank you to you, I really appreciate your kindness.