I would ask myself every day:
Did I give lately of what I hold dearest.
“Never cease searching for education,” her grandmother would tell her.
Her grandmother said education is a harmonious combination of knowledge, humility and purpose.
I grew up in a small town in Northern Niger. My mother, who never graduated from high school, would often say no dinner until you finish your lessons.
The only time I felt bitterness in her voice is when she talked about how much she had finished her studies.
My father was the type of person who would make you feel really bad about not trying hard enough.
It was guided by hopes of my mother and resilience from my father that I became more acquainted with the realities of girls my age in rural areas. We faced threats, yet when we engaged in communities it became clear to me that we had to bring together people who would not sit together.
If we are really to create meaningful discourse in a community we had to bring everyone together.
Only 1 in 4 girls completed primary school. I wondered why and I asked myself what can I do to make a difference.
Yet it was only 7 years later that I realized that the fate of my country rested on the fate of these girls.
Upon traveling to New Mexico.
“Never forget where you come from and stay true to yourself,” her grandmother told her.
My mother told me to be courageous. My father told me be like the camel, but don’t anyone treat you like one.
I learned change often starts with an individual.
Challenges are no longer an excuse. Instead they are an opportunity to look for alternatives.
Two out of three people in poverty are women in rural areas in Niger.
You cannot invest in an individual. You cannot invest in a group and expect that to be enough for a girl. You have to invest in social allies. She would need support, more than just mentoring.
In talking with a women in Niger, she asked,
What she hoped for the future:
I wish I had a second chance, but truly I do not hope much for myself at least. But I can assure my daughter will go to school and remain in school longer than I did.
Despite my fears I accepted today because I hope that girls who grow up in places that don’t even appear on the world map will dream and achieve.
Q & A with Melinda Gates
How do we get those voices out there?
Answer: It is really important to listen to the communities at the beginning. We need to be there at stage minus 1, in fact.