Laura, 25 (Monrovia, Liberia)

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What is your story of strength?

I grew up in a family that could afford our basic needs in an underprivileged community. My parents were kind to our neighbors and I always admired their passion for humanity. In 2009, a family lost their father who was the life of the family. Leaving behind so many children, the mother began to separate the children by sending them to live with families and friends because she was uneducated and had no skill or resources to maintain them. Because of the kindness and love for others that I learned from my parents, I  saw the need to help the last daughter she was about to give out to a friend. My interactions with this little girl increased my passion to reach out to more children like her. Because of this passion for children, I started a non-profit organization in 2015 to reduce the number of out-of-school youth in my community.  My organization, KINDLE Liberia, provides educational scholarships and financial aid to students who would drop out of  secondary school without it. Today I feel happy when I see the many beneficiaries of these programs.

In addition to my parents, another person who has given me the courage to be strong for others is Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia. Her determination to succeed, the integrity she has maintained and her level of intelligence have overwhelmed me. Being a female and ascending to the highest office in the government makes me believe that women, too, have no limitations. She is my inspiration.

What does being a woman mean to you?

We were born hearing that men are “superior.” For this reason women have had to struggle. This has influenced the discrimination and violence against women across the world. I think being a woman in today’s world means having strength and determination. The strength of a woman should not be aggressive but productive. It is being strong enough to persist amidst failures and setbacks. Women are to be kind, respectful and honest. I also think women are unique. There is something that distinguishes a woman from a man, and that should be celebrated.

Can you  talk about a time when you struggled or disappointed yourself?

Not meeting a desirable or intended objective is inevitable. Such was the case for me. After high school, I was anxious to start college. I calculated the number of years I would be in school and when I would have my first job. At the first entrance examination, I wasn’t successful, so I had to wait for the next year’s exam. I felt disappointed because I had wasted a year. I did my best the next time and was successful. This experience encouraged me to be strong and keep trying even if I fail the first time.

How can women better support each other?

Women can support each other by sharing their stories and  learning from each other. We all have a story to tell. A story of struggle or strength or success. We should tell those stories in order to enable and encourage other women to learn and grow.

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