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Amina, the big sister who keeps your secrets

Amina, the big sister who keeps your secrets
© UNICEF Mozambique/2012/Caroline Bach
“It’s a very big responsibility to be a Brada, and I am sometimes tired in the evenings. But it’s a lot of fun, it’s important, and I am learning every day,” says Amina Katamo.

When anyone needs help or advice, they know they can always go to 14-year old Amina Gulamo Katamo. As the leader of the “Os Bradas” school club at Ngungunhane school in Chibuto, she is like an older sister to all the children, and she knows the answers to many important questions.

Amina is a very active girl. She wakes up at five o’clock every morning to heat up water for her daily bath before school. She leaves home before seven and enjoys studying and reading in class. Amina is also an actress in the school theatre. When it’s time for a break between classes, she likes to play hide and seek with her friends and listen to music. Recess is also the time for Amina to talk to other children to make sure they are aware of various health issues, and that they are being good students. Sometimes, she invites them to the meetings of the school club. As the leader of “Os Bradas”, one of Amina’s responsibilities is to identify children with difficulties.

“Os Bradas is a social group,” says Amina. “We are a circle of friends who meet weekly to talk about difficult matters such as health, sexual abuse, and children’s rights, and about how to protect ourselves against HIV.”

As part of the Child Friendly Schools initiative, the programme is meant to inspire children and encourage their participation in school life, through life skills activities such as what Amina and her friends do at “Os Bradas”. The initiative is led by the Mozambican NGO N’weti and supported by among others the Ministry of Education and UNICEF.

Amina mentions how peers often come to her with questions. “They ask me about anything. One could say that I am like an older sister to them even though I sometimes am younger. The questions can be about schoolwork or cooking, to very personal matters. Whatever they tell me becomes our secret, I will never tell anybody else.”

Unlike many girls her age, Amina doesn’t do household chores at home during school days. She visits the local mosque almost daily after school where she also meets friends, and spends the rest of her time studying and playing.

“My parents want me to focus on my studies at this age, so I only help out at home when I’m free from school.” she says, sounding a little disappointed. “I know that this is good for me and that I have time to be a better student, but I also want to learn how to cook better,” she laughs, admitting that she probably wouldn’t find enough time to help her parents, study, rehearse in the theatre and be the leader of the “Os Bradas” club all at the same time.

“It’s a very big responsibility to be a Brada, and I am sometimes tired in the evenings. But it’s a lot of fun, it’s important, and I am learning every day.”

For further information, please contact:

Patricia Nakell, UNICEF Mozambique,
Tel: +258 82 312 1820; Email: pnakell@unicef.org

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique
Tel. (+258) 21 481 100; Email: maputo@unicef.org

 

 
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