Mam Yassin Sarr: A patriotic citizen and a role model
Friday, July 03, 2009
In this week Women's Weekly edition, I wish to introduce to you another dynamic, patriotic and a hard working Gambian woman, who is no other person than Mam Yassin Sarr.
Mam Yassin, who was born and brought up at Lamin Village in Western Region, went to school in The Gambia and later travelled to the USA to further her studies. Mam Yassin is currently in The Gambia, contributing her quota towards the national development of our beloved country. Mam, who is very passionate about serving humanity and education, is very passionate about the contribution of women to national development, particularly mothers.
In an interview with the Women's Weekly columnist at her home in Lamin, Mam said she was born at Westfield clinic on September 30th, 1974, and her parents are all from Lamin village in Western Region. She attended Methodist Nursery and Primary Schools, from there she proceeded to St Peter's High School, until 1992, when she went to St' Augustine's in Banjul where she did her Sixth form. After completing her Sixth form in The Gambia, she left for USA. There she attended Berea College in Kentucky, where she did her undergraduate and studied Sociology and French.
She later proceeded to the University of Kentucky and pursued her masters program for a year, and transfered to English Murray State University that is in Western Kentucky, and graduated with Masters in English. She taught English Humanities and Multicultural studies before becoming an education specialist. In 2006, she moved to Syracuse University in New York, where she is currently pursuing her PHD in teaching and curriculum. She is now a teacher and at the same time a student. She got married with an American in 2000 and was blessed with only one child. She informed this columnist that she visits The Gambia every summer holiday, during which, she embarks on educational projects with girls and teachers.
According to her, when she was in The Gambia, paying her school fees was not a problem. Though her parents sometimes had difficulties in paying her school fees but she was never kicked out of school for fees. "However, I don't go out to ask for school fees, I had always sent my brother to ask for my school fees from my parents. They always came up with my school fees because they really valued education," she disclosed. Highlighting some of her achievements, Mam said her first achievement is that she is a mother and it is a great gift to be able to raise a child particularly a daughter, to be a service to humanity noting that "it is one of the most challenging and that's my greatest achievement."
Secondly, she has had education at a higher level, which many at her age couldn't get at that time. And her third biggest achievement is that she is very conscious that she is a spiritual being which some how guides the way that she relates to other human beings, that it forces her to see beyond and sound intellectually.
She revealed that she would be coming in The Gambia every summer, to work on her educational projects for girls and teachers. Last summer, when she came, she talked to 50 girls including kindergarten kids and high school students. According to her, what was impressive about their answer was that they do not only know what they wanted to be but their reasons extended beyond themselves. Some will say I want to be a minister to help my parents and other people; saying not only to help themselves but also their immediate family. "I know Gambian women are doing impressive work.
They are aiming high; I absolutely love that they are hardworking. I do believe that there is room for improvement and more opportunities," she said.
Mam Yassin-Sarr revealed that her plan is to build a girls' academy that will be from pre-school to atleast high school, and hopefully to graduate school. She is also going to attach a teacher-training institute to it, because she realised that she can graduate 100 girls a year. But she said she also realised that there are 100 more girls who cannot physically come to her school because where they are staying and so they might not able to benefit from it.
It is also her plan to train teachers and sending them out into the country to provide the same calibre of education to the girls at her academy is getting and the school will be called " Jom Academy" meaning determination and dignity. This whole idea came as a dream when I was at age 10, and the biggest help I need is cooperation and faith from parents that their girls can go as far as they want to go. I will appreciate input and advice from people and lots of prayers and also ideas about resources.
When deliberating on the idea of a man and a woman to have mutual understanding of each other and also men to allow their wives to work, she said she believes that marriage is two soul coming together and because of that who you choose is important. And you can make the best choice if you know yourself well; and you get to know yourself well if you are educated.
There is a big difference between read and write and also your culture. Through education they have to know themselves and that is why she thought that girls' empowerment is so important because it determines their life and when they truly know themselves in a young age, and as well as what rights and responsibilities they have from God. Then they can avoid all these problems and who they try to share their soul with becomes very easy and appropriate choice. As a whole, they have work to do in humanity that others can't do.
The advice I have for them and will say often is: "We are capable of so much more......, we should dream as far as we can dream, and work as far as we can work and see what happens. What ever your soul is calling for don't limit it, give it your best." "I have unity within my family, I tried very hard to foster unity to anyone in the world that I come across. I am grateful with the unity I experience with my family and others," she concluded.
Author: Mariatou Ngum-Saidy