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Local mom leads development

At Plan, we know that the best way to bring about real and lasting change is to enable community members to lead development themselves.

That’s why we’re investing in the education and training of local people, especially women like Kadiatou, who have critical roles to play in their community, and as leaders of Plan-funded projects.

A woman wraps her arms around her sons.

Kadiatou and her two sons

Local child-rights advocate Kadiatou sat down with us recently, along with her two eldest children, to talk about how learning, more than anything else, has made a difference in her life and the community, improving everything from maternal and newborn health, to child nutrition and greater protection of the rights of children, especially girls.

A laughing boy poses with his arms in the air.

Kadiatou’s son, Demba, 14

“With greater knowledge, much has improved,” says Kadiatou. “Since Plan started working here, we’ve come to understand the importance of putting the interests of children first, that we must educate and take care of them and give them a chance to express themselves, and that we must allow girls to study and not give them away in marriage.”

Community and family conversations about girls’ rights have also focused on the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM), leading to a shift in local thinking, which is helping ban the dangerous practice.

“I participated in the movement to end this practice in my village,” 14-year-old Demba told us with pride. “It is harmful to the health of girls and can lead to complications, even death, later on when they have children.”

A young boy smiles.

Kadiatou’s son, Issa, 11.

For 11-year-old Issa, while the best part of development has been the closeness and cohesion that has been created in the community, he also loves going to school and learning about development through Plan-facilitated training sessions.

“I assisted with the promotion of hand washing with soap as a way to avoid illness,” he told us, enthusiastically describing his participation in an ongoing community-wide effort to eradicate Ebola, preventing the deadly disease and saving more lives.

Kadiatou says the greatest thing she has learned so far, in a year of change in Kita, is that knowledge itself is a powerful tool – not just for changing minds, but for changing lives, as well.

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