DRASA Youth Ambassador Fathia Motunrayo Alade is 17 years old. She has been part of the DRASA Health and Hygiene Club in her school since 2017 and we wanted to share her story. Check out her interview below.
Who is Fathia?
I am a young girl who enjoys reading and watching movies. My favorite book is Purple Hibiscus. My favorite drink is Pepsi but I don’t have a favorite food. I like music a lot and my favorite artist is James Arthur.
What’s your family like?
I have 2 older siblings and 3 younger siblings. I live with my dad and step-mum and they are both traders. My step-mum sells bridal material and my dad sells ankara clothes. My family is okay. It’s a place where you can learn morals and values and be well-rounded and educated on marital and personal issues and how to relate with the whole world. It’s a place where you can always get what you need, what you actually need, in living your life.
What was growing up like for you? What did you enjoy about your childhood?
My childhood was okay even though I didn’t really stay with my dad because my dad and my biological mum were separated. I got to stay with my mum but she died some years ago – she was very ill – so I had to come and live with my dad. Staying with my mum was different, it was fun because my mum was a very gentle woman; she rarely beat. She wasn’t a wahala woman. So my childhood was filled with lots of experiences and I’m sure one way or the other, those experiences will actually help me.
Do you want to share some of those experiences?
Yes, maybe as a mother who didn’t want us to feel any suffering, I was used to having my school fees paid very early, but there was this time that she had a little setback in her work and she couldn’t pay our school fees. When we got to school, we were not allowed into the school and my teacher called my mum. My mum pleaded with my teacher to allow us into the school and said that she was going to pay the school fees that day. That actually gave me the mindset of the kind of mother I want to be to my children and what I want my family to be like. It’s not as if my children won’t suffer on certain issues, but I know they won’t lack other things.
Had any challenges while growing up?
One of the few challenges I’ve faced is this – and I think everyone needs to know this: as a parent or an adult, you shouldn’t shut your children down. You should try to hear their own side of the story. One of the things I’ve suffered while growing up is not being able to let my mind be free – they don’t get to hear me – and that has been shutting me down in such a way that I only get to be free with my friends. There is this flow of information that happens with any issue we are talking about. And I love arguing about political issues!
Do you have a story you would like to share?
Yes, one day I was going to a market near my house and there was a mob – huge crowd – around this young man. He was accused of stealing a phone. They didn’t catch him with the phone but because the whole crowd was pointing at him and because of where he was at the time of the incident, they decided he was guilty; though there was no 100% assurance or evidence that he stole the phone. Just the fact that he came at the wrong time, that was what made him a victim. At that point, they didn’t even hear his side of the story. They brought a tyre with kerosene and matches, and he was burnt to death. There are so many other issues like that.
This widened my view of injustice in Nigeria. We don’t respect other people’s human’s rights. Fine, you caught me doing something wrong, at least you should hear my side of the story and hear what made me do it even if I’m going to be punished, I should be punished justly; it shouldn’t just be jungle justice. This is one experience that actually pushed me to want to study law.
Any plans for the future?
Yes, I’m going to study law, but before I was thinking corporate law. All of a sudden, I changed my mind to human rights law so I can be a human rights activist. One of the idols I’m looking up to is Mr. Femi Falana. He’s a human rights activist in Nigeria. I think being a human rights lawyer is going to be a great experience: telling people what they need to know about their human rights, what the constitution actually entails, the 7 major human rights. I want a future whereby even if I’m not financially stable, I am happy and everybody has a sense that they belong. I want a future in which the poor feel they can be friends with the rich, the middle class can feel they can be friends with the rich with no boundaries.
What have you learnt being a DRASA Youth Ambassador?
Initially when I joined the DRASA Health and Hygiene Club, I didn’t know what it was all about. The story of Dr. Adadevoh is actually a fascinating one. When the question was asked about what we know about Ebola, I was the first person to speak because I had a deep knowledge of what happened that time in 2014 with the patient Patrick Sawyer. That was just the main thing for me – for something like this to actually come to our school on health and hygiene – it was very fascinating and I wanted to be fully involved.
I’ve learned A LOT as a DRASA Youth Ambassador. DRASA has also helped me to be creative. There was a time we did a drama and I acted the role of ‘mama.’ I also had to draw germs and paint which were all fun. There was another time we had to prepare for the DRASA inter-school competition and my fellow Ambassadors and I had to write a song and perform it in front of the judges.
DRASA has also helped me really understand hygiene. For example, there are some things that I previously didn’t think mattered. For instance, after packing dirt into the waste bin, I wouldn’t wash my hands, I would just dust them and say it doesn’t matter. But being a DRASA Ambassador has widened my horizon to understand that many illnesses can be curbed by washing your hands. I can attest to that personally because I can’t remember the last time I got sick.
We also discussed menstrual hygiene in the Club. So after that my cousin called me and I was able to tell her what to do because as a DRASA Ambassador I had gotten the knowledge on what should be done.
Is there anything else you want people to know?
Nothing much. In this world, everyone is like water and you don’t know who you’ll meet. Just try to be your best and don’t try to satisfy anyone. At the point where you’re trying to satisfy everybody and you don’t know who you are personally, it may be a hindrance to your growth. You should of course also be well-rounded – don’t say I’m a science student and I’ll just stick to science. No – go into the arts, the humanities, and the commercial side of things. Be well-rounded and know what’s going on.