By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
In commemorating the International Day of the Girl Child, famous journalist Phebean Swill has on Monday 11th October, 2021 organized a screening film event in honoring the life of Dr. ZainabHawaBangura, the current 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 ZainabHawaBangura’s story is very touching, inspiring and so much to learn from by the younger generations, adding that her story will go a long way especially to those parents and guardians who think the only solution from poverty is to send their girls off to early marriage.
“To you parents and guardians do not think that the easy way to overcome poverty is by sending your girls to early marriage,’’ she said, adding by urging young girls to take their school work seriously. She further called on them to emulate the good examples of Dr. ZainabBangura and be inspired by her story.
Madam Swill also admonished young girls to be patient, adding there is time for every purpose in life.
Madam ZainabHawaBangura who is the current 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, work on themselves and take their academic work seriously.
“To all the girls in Freetown, 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, you can do it too. I want you to leave the screening with one message to yourself and that is, “if ZainabHawaBangura can do it, you can also do it better than me. I would like to see more Sierra Leonean women to 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 to buy me uniforms,’’ she said .
She added that she had not imagined and even dreamt of been in the various positions she attained in life but said growing up in life, she had the determination of becoming somebody great in the world.
“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 uniform, thus couldn’t make a lot of friend. I have always followed my mother’s instructions to take advantage of the opportunity and to focus and study hard,’’ Madam Bangura revealed.
Mayor of the Freetown Municipality, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, on her part thanked Phebean Swill for inspiring 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 the things that struck me most in the last fifteen – 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,’’ 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 participants 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.”