By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
As way of marking the International Day of the Girl Child, celebrated journalist Phebean Swill has on Monday 11th October, 2021 organized a screening film event honouring the life of Dr. Zainab Hawa Bangura, the Director General of the United Nations Office in Nairobi at the country’s New City Hall in Freetown.
In her statement, Phebean Swill said Madam Zainab Hawa Bangura’s story is very touching and inspiring, so much to learn from by younger generations today adding that her story will go a long way especially to those parents and guardians who think the only solution to poverty is to send their girls off to early marriage.
“Imagine Madam Zainab Hawa Bangura if her mom didn’t stand firm not to send her to early marriage imagine who she should have become today but here she is today a very successful woman , a woman we all celebrate and that was made possible of course by God and the education she acquired so education is very important . To you parents and guardians do not think the easy way out, the solution to poverty is sending your girls to early marriage,’’she said.
She urged young girls to take their school work seriously and to prioriotized their education thus calling on the girls to be inspired by Dr. Bangura’s story and not to long for smart phones or the most recent fashion as she advised them that there is always a time for every purpose in life.
Madam Zainab Hawa Bangura, Director General of the United Nations office whilst speaking via Zoom from Kenya, Nairobi thanked Madam Swill for the screening and urged girls who were watching her via the screen to be determined , believe in themselves and to take their academic work seriously .
“To all the girls in Freetown present today, I hope my story at the end of the day will be a source of inspiration and make you believe that if I can do it, so you can do. I want you to leave the screening with one message to yourself and that is, if Zainab Hawa Bangura can do it, you can with the determination that you can even do better than me. I would like to see more people, Sierra Leonean women who achieve these high positions that I have attained. I still see myself as that village girl from Yoni Bana who were to be given uniform by another student at the Annie Walsh school during my 6th form , my parents couldn’t afford me to buy me uniforms,’’ she said .
She added that she had not imagined and even dreamt of been in the various position she had attained in her life but said growing up in her life, she had the determination of becoming somebody in the world stating that her courage to dream and to hope and to fight and make sacrifices for this dream will land her success.
“But my mother made it very clear to me that education is like a golden key if you are given to it, it can open any door and once you are well educated the sky is your limit. I went to school with one pair of shoe and dressing thus couldn’t make a lot of friend. I have always followed my mother’s instructions to take advantage for the opportunity that I was in school and to focus and study,’’ Madam Bangura revealed.
Mayor of the Freetown municipality, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, on her part thanked Phebean Swill for the film showcasing Madam Zainab Hawa Bangura and her mother in order to inspire the young women and girls in the country.
“It is my pleasure to celebrate, the international Day of the girl child with you today I think perhaps one of things that struck me most in the last fifteen for twenty minutes that I have been here wasn’t even watching you but watching the expressions on your faces, watching you come up, your boldness, in giving your comments and feedback .Your appreciation and understanding of the messages that the film,’’ she said.
Madam Sawyerr said Madam Bangura story has become an illustration of what is possible, stating that she came from a small village but never saw poverty as a barrier to achieving her dreams and today everybody and the world is so proud of her .
Blessings Esther Hallowell, one of the participant said she learnt a lot during the programme adding that one of the things the session teaches her is that education is better than silver and gold and thus if you are educated nothing in life can be very important than your education.
“And if you are educated you can be a better person more than Madam Zainab Hawa Bangura and you will become recognizable everywhere you passes by,’’ she said.