My name is Paulina Mwindor, a twenty two year old undergraduate student of the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. Life was tough from the beginning but I learnt to be tougher.
I lost my parents at a tender age and my aunt and uncle took care of my siblings and I, ever since then. I had a normal, happy life until I turned eight, when I went to school on a faithful Friday and returned home with a fractured arm. I actually fell while playing with my friends and broke my right arm.
I was rushed to a medical center where my arm was poorly treated, they applied some medications on the arm which totally destroyed it. I lost almost the entire skin surrounding the arm, I also lost the veins and muscles as well. It was after the damage of my arm that they realized that I was actually allergic to the medications they had administered. Doctors suggested that amputating the arm would be the only best solution and according to them, my arm had little chances of ever functioning. My family however disagreed to that and they never amputated my arm. It was really a tough moment for me, a young girl of eight, the pain and trauma were just so great. I was physically, emotionally and psychologically troubled.
After many months in the hospital, I was finally discharged, I had already missed an academic year at school and as a result I had to return to school to catch up with my colleagues. Initially I didn't want to go back to school because I was scared, shy and demoralized, I didn't know whether my friends would still accept me the way I was. My aunt encouraged me to go and she even dropped me at school but after she left, it was heartbreaking, no one wanted to get closer to me, not even my best friends. They rejected, stigmatized and some even looked down on me, for months it continued and I was always all by myself, lonely and reserved. I lost confidence in myself, my self-esteem was low and I used to think I would never be anything better in future.
Through those challenging moments, my family and some few friends were behind me, they encouraged me, taught me to do things by myself and to live a normal life irrespective of what people said about me. I also read inspirational books and listened to motivational messages which helped me overcome the trauma.
Today I am happy my arm was not amputated, though some parts of it do not respond to stimuli and the fingers do not move, I am glad I still have it because it supports the other hand in many little ways. One thing I've learnt over the years is that, some challenges we face are not meant to destroy us. They are meant to be fought and won so as to serve as a motivation for others in similar or worse situations to look up to and believe they can equally overcome their challenges.
I have realized that many people in my community especially women and young girls are going through similar or even worse situations than I have been through. They have little to no say on the issues affecting them which actually is heartbreaking. I have therefore started a initiative called The BRIGHT Girl Initiative which is still at the start-up level.. This initiative seeks to empower young ladies and girls through mentorship programs, practical learning in making beads designs and soap production. On 1st July I organized my first mentorship program at Lassia Tuolu senior high, a community school in the upper west region. I invited two young female entrepreneurs to help facilitate it. Our discussions were based on three areas which were Leadership, Good lifestyle development and management and finally Career planning. It ended successfully and the girls were really happy to have us, we were equally happy because we learnt a lot from them as well. Our goal is to help keep girls in school and also help them learn new things which are not taught in the classroom. It is our dream to see this initiative going a long way to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 5, Gender Equality. Gender equality is one of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals that requires urgent action to eliminate the many root causes of discrimination that still curtail women's rights in private and public spheres. It is believed that when you instill the right values and training in the girl child when she is still young, she will grow into a strong woman. I am convinced that this initiative will grow to serve its purpose.
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