The most important thing for me is to acquire knowledge and become a lawyer

Thirteen-year-old Hawa* is one of the refugee children who completed primary school in the Mentao refugee camp in Burkina Faso and is now heading for secondary school. Her family fled their home in Gao in northern Mali. Plan International Ireland has provided education services to children in the camp.


I was in the class when my father came to pick me up. We were daily hearing of war, wounded and the dead. My father told me that the situation had become dangerous for us and that we had to leave immediately. We just had time to take a few belongings and leave our house for an unknown destination.

In pursuit of safety, Hawa and her family finally landed in Mentao camp. They slowly started to piece their lives together in the camp.

When Plan International set up the summer catch-up classes in July 2012, she joined in to make up for the  lost school time. By this time a school had been set up in the camp. Hawa enrolled herself for the next academic year in the school and started attending regular classes. “I put my heart and soul in my studies. I want to become a lawyer and I will do my best to realise my dream,” says Hawa.

Hawa’s elder sister has not been as lucky. As there was no secondary school when they arrived, she had no other choice but to stay at home. Subsequently she was married off by her parents last year. At just 16, she is already a mother.

“At this point, the most important thing for me is to acquire knowledge, to graduate and to become a lawyer. After that, I can think about getting married” says Hawa. “I hope I will be  spared of forced marriage which can prevent me from realising my dream. I am keeping my hopes alive.”

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