Estella Bangura, Sierra Leone

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FAWE Regional Secretariat
FAWE House
Chania Avenue, Off Wood Avenue
Kilimani
PO Box 21394-00505
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Kenya
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Estelle and daughterIn my last year of secondary school I became pregnant. My father drove me out of the house and my boyfriend abadandoned me. Only my mother supported me during those long months. She had to struggle to provide food for me and my baby girl. I made up my mind that I was going to go all out to further my education...

My name is Estella Bangura. I am twenty-four years old. I was born in a small village in the northern part of Sierra Leone.  We are eight in our family. This is because my father is married to three wives as is common in this part of the country.

I am the last of my mother’s three children.  My father always called me his ‘lucky child’ because it was after my birth that he picked up a regular job as a Security Officer. As a result he happily sent me off to school when I reached the age. I was the first woman in my family, mothers included, to be sent to school.

I went on from primary to junior secondary and then to senior secondary school. Unfortunately in my last year at senior secondary school in 2007, I became pregnant. This was a great disappointment to my father who by then had got me an entrance form to be filled out for placement in a nursing school. As a result he drove me out of the house. To make matters worse, my boyfriend abandoned me. Only my mother supported me during those long months. She had to struggle to provide food for me and my baby girl.  After suckling my baby for two years, I made up my mind that I was going to go all out to further my education.

Fortunately for me at about this time, my friends told me about the FAWE-DANIDA programme. I was so desperate for something to do that I did not even care about the type of course offered. All I was concerned with at that moment in my desperate state was to go out there, study anything and get a secure future. I was prepared to go the extra mile and focus on my work to prove to the world that I am not a useless person.

Estella Bangura at workEstella Bangura at workI was lucky to be selected and enrolled at the Sierra Leone Opportunity Industrialization Centre (SLOIC) in Makeni in Northern Province to study electricity. This was a completely new programme for me even if I had some exposure to sciences from when I was in school. In our class there were 14 girls and over 34 boys.

In the beginning the boys used to make fun of us because we were always afraid of the electric shocks and tried to avoid this as best as we could. As the months went by, I made friends with some of the boys and studied with them. When I realised that they were organising themselves into groups to go out on apprenticeship. Taking into consideration my financial situation, I made them promise to take me along and they started taking me out on their part-time job experiences. So I was able to get practical experience through apprenticeships.

In Sierra Leone, people are becoming more aware about giving equal opportunity to both sexes in the work place. So the local councillor in the area approached Addax Bioenergy about job opportunities for young women. At that time electricians were urgently needed. The company agreed to employ women only if they met their standards of work. The councillor sent to SLOIC and three girls were recommended. I was the only one accepted after the interview. I have now been there for four months. I am lucky to be employed with such a reputable company as Addax Bioenergy as the only female electrician.

Estella Bangura and colleaguesEstella Bangura and colleaguesI went through a lot of challenges but thank God for seeing me through. Taking care of a child and at the same time schooling was not an easy task. I devoted my time and effort towards my studies during the one-year period, and now I’m proud to say I am empowered and self-reliant.

I am so grateful to FAWE and DANIDA for giving me a second chance in life. With the money I earn I now take better and proper care of my child, support my ailing mother and even help my father. My daughter will be starting pre-school in a few months. Right now she and my mother live with my aunt and I stay in company accommodation at different sites but I hope to be able to rent a place of my own in the future. I pray that I’ll be given the opportunity to further my education.

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