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The story of how one young woman overcame trauma to inspire others

POSTED January 6, 2023

The story of how one young woman overcame trauma to inspire others

Find out how Children Believe is helping those affected by forced migration in Burkina Faso

By Fifou Abel, communications assistant, Burkina Faso

Woman overcomes trauma to inspire others as a eager student

Dressed modestly in a T-shirt, skirt and black headscarf, Mounia* looks younger than her 25 years and perhaps naïve to the world’s dangers. But looks can be deceiving. 

The young woman has faced more hardship than many could bear since her family fled their home following armed attacks by radical groups in 2020. They left everything behind. Moving into a local stadium, they relied on humanitarian assistance until relatives could send money for them to rent a small house.

But, there’s more to the story. Mounia had also been silently suffering, telling no one that the men who attacked her home had sexually and physically abused her, too.

“I spent nights crying and asking myself questions to which I could not find answers. I no longer went to school — everything stopped for me,” says Mounia who was completing high school when the attack happened. “The future didn’t exist anymore.”

Although overwhelmed by memories of her attack, Mounia was determined to earn money to help her family. Her efforts weren’t successful at first. “One day, when I had lost all hope, I asked women traders for help,” she recalls. “One of them lent me 2,000 francs (about C$4) to buy mangoes to resell. My nightmare was losing that banknote in which I had all hope to start living again.”

Thankfully, when Mounia explained what happened, the women helped her again, giving her a few mangoes to sell. “A few weeks later, I [could afford to buy] a box of mangoes,” she recalls joyfully.

Soon after, Mounia rented a small house with friends. Her hope for a better future spurred her onward. Referred to Children Believe for help, she received educational and psychosocial support, and re-enrolled in Grade 11, thanks to a UNICEF-funded project run by Children Believe.

“I went back to school thanks to the support of Children Believe. I received a school kit, and I was motivated to have a good school year,” Mounia recalls confidently.

Children Believe continued to support the eager student the following year as she completed secondary school and prepared for her final exam. It wasn’t easy.

“I armed myself with courage to face the exam,” Mounia says, explaining how a study group in math, life and science, French, physics and chemistry helped her become one of few females in a class of 60 students to pass.

Today, tears of sadness have given way to tears of joy and determination. “I want to put this diploma to good use by working to save lives after my university studies in health,” says Mounia, who has registered to study sociology at a local university, supported by a family gift and money she saved. “I urge girls who live in difficult conditions to fight.”

It’s no surprise this bright young star is admired locally for her courage as she writes a new page in her life story, having overcome trauma to inspire others.

You can help women and girls like Mounia get support they need to reach their dreams. Send girls to school today.

*A pseudonym has been used to protect the identity of the young woman in the story.

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Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.

About ChildFund Alliance:

A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.

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