Fatuma's story

May 17, 2018

The Fragile Seven Series

Seven examples of countries in crisis. Seven girls, coming of age amidst unthinkable circumstances. They share a common courage, in the face of danger and deprivation. And they share something else: an urgent need for education. For all vulnerable children – especially, girls – education offers a lifeline to safety for today and hope for the future tomorrow.  

Part 3: Fatuma, Somalia

Fatuma survived the civil war that’s ravaged Somalia for the past two decades. But that wasn’t all. She endured years of her childhood and adolescence in a refugee camp in Kenya.

“Life in the camp almost broke me,” says the brilliant young woman, now a scholarship student at a prominent university in Toronto. What kept her motivated, she says – through all those years of chaos – was the chance to attend school at the camp.

“Education saved my life,” says Fatuma. “Going to school gave me hope for a better future. Although I struggled to find time for my studies, I was a dedicated student.”

Fatuma earned a scholarship to one of Kenya’s top secondary schools. From there, she boldly and confidently applied for a scholarship in Canada. And got it. Today, she majors in biology at the University of Toronto. Fatuma also supports her family, who still live in the Kenyan camp.

“I was one of the lucky ones,” she says. “I got a chance at a better life. Education has saved my life.”

Like Fatuma, millions of the world’s girls persevere in the face of crises like civil conflict. But very few have the opportunity of receiving an education. When conflicts erupt, schools are always the first places to close, and take years to reopen – if at all. When schooling is denied, wasted potential is among the best-case scenarios. Tragedy – in the form of outcomes like child marriage – is among the worst.

When education is provided, girls can channel their intelligence into learning that lasts a lifetime. Education is a basic human right for every child, no matter what their situation, or their gender.

Fatuma is a shining example of what’s possible – when the world steps forward to honour that right.

Does Fatuma’s story speak to you? Then speak up! As the G7 Summit approaches, let the government of Canada know that you want them to invest in education for girls in crises by signing our petition so that all girls have the chance to shape their own futures.