Letter to My Future Self: 20 Children, 20 Dreams, and 20 Life Stories
On the occasion of the Day of the African Child, children from Kédougou region write letters to their future selves.
Kédougou, June 16, 2023 - They aspire to become lawyers to defend the underprivileged, teachers to support students who struggle academically, surgeons to combat maternal mortality, businesswomen to create employment opportunities for young people, or footballers like Sadio Mané who envision building schools and hospitals. These are the dreams shared by 20 children with 20 unique stories during the "Letter to My Future Self" writing workshop.
"I want to establish numerous businesses to help young people find employment and contribute to the development of my country. I truly aspire to become a successful businesswoman," declares 12-year-old Rokhaya Faye. Beyond her desire to contribute to her community's progress, Rokhaya's aspiration for entrepreneurship is driven by her determination to be a formidable force. "I yearn to be influential, adept at facing challenges, negotiating deals, and surpassing expectations, even when compared to boys," she adds.
At just 12 years old, Rokhaya exhibits a profound understanding of the cultural and societal norms surrounding her, and she already possesses the resolve to challenge them. After finishing her letter, she turned to the teacher sitting beside her and asked, "Why do we learn about human rights at school but not women's rights? Don't women have rights?"
Similar to Rokhaya, Jonas Cissokho is also cognizant of the issues within his community and aspires to find solutions.
"I aspire to become the most renowned surgeon in the region and the country. Recognizing the shortage of surgeons in my Saraya department and the Kédougou region, I aim to fill this gap and excel in my field. I envision that people from neighboring areas will seek my services, and even other doctors in the country will consult me for my proven expertise," he asserts with determination.
Mady Diate Kaba, aged 10, already harbors the ambition to become a doctor, providing care to people and developing groundbreaking vaccines to combat diseases prevalent in her community. "I have a passion for medicine, and my dream is to become an exceptional doctor, creating revolutionary vaccines against diseases that afflict my community, such as malaria."
While some may assume that children choose professions simply because they are well-known, 12-year-old Famoumata Diakhaby in CEM 2 class explains that her desire to become a teacher transcends societal expectations.
"People may claim that I chose this profession merely for the three-month vacation period, but my motivations extend beyond such perceptions. I aspire to become one of the most exemplary teachers in my country. Teaching is an honorable profession as society entrusts me with the well-being, development, and education of those who will shape the future. I will be deserving of this trust," she reads aloud from her letter, her voice filled with enthusiasm and accompanied by a radiant smile.
For Famoumata, teaching represents an opportunity to assist children who are in greatest need and make a difference. "By supporting struggling students and helping them improve their academic performance, I want to demonstrate that they are capable of far more than their challenges suggest. I will be both an educator, a mother figure, and a friend," she adds, sharing her heartfelt sentiments.
These letters from the children of Kédougou embody their hopes, determination, and aspirations. They remind us of the incredible potential within each child and the significant impact they can make on their communities and society as a whole.
In Kédougou, nearly every child grows up aware that gold mining remains the primary activity in the region. In CEM 2 class, Salif Keita observed that young people are often engaged in this industry under extremely difficult conditions, facing poverty, insecurity, delinquency, and unsanitary environments. Consequently, many households feel hopeless about attaining a better life.
Confronted with this reality, Salif aspires to study at a technical school and ultimately become a high-ranking executive in the mining sector after pursuing higher education. He envisions a future where he can nationalize mining and, with the ambition of becoming the Minister of Mines in 2046, transform his community into a livable environment and a peaceful haven. Salif aims to enhance security by utilizing better resource management, which would involve establishing military camps in the region.
Through the writing workshop, the children not only shared their dreams for the next 10 or 20 years but also expressed admiration for individuals who inspire them and whom they aspire to emulate.
"My cousin Djeynaba is my greatest inspiration because she possesses self-confidence, excels academically, and fearlessly embraces life and unrestricted travel," said Rokhaya, reflecting on the qualities she admires in her cousin.
"For me, my teacher is truly my source of motivation. In my family, I have three older brothers, three older sisters, and two younger brothers. However, only my little brothers and I are currently attending school because all my older siblings have dropped out. That's why when I see my teacher, who is a woman and who helps me a lot in class, it inspires me to be like her when I grow up. When I see her, I tell myself that I can also succeed," confessed Fatoumata Diakhaby.
Writing a letter to your future self holds great importance. When time has passed and the children find these same letters in 20 years, they will remember who they were, who they aspired to become, and the people who inspired them. In a world that is constantly changing, it will be vital for them to remember the values they cherished as children and wish to preserve as they grow older.
"I always want to cultivate empathy and have the ability to understand other people's feelings," promised Rokhaya. Fatoumata, on the other hand, dislikes cruelty. "I would like to be kind to people and to myself," she shared with us.
Mamadou Niang, the Academy Inspector of Kédougou, expressed his delight at the success of the inaugural edition of the "Lettre to My Futur Self" writing workshop.
According to Mr. Niang, "The objective was to introduce students to the concept of writing, allowing them to envision their future. When children write, they put their emotions, love, passion, and aspirations on paper."
Ibra Der Tamba, the French teacher and trainer who accompanied the students during this two-day exercise, revealed that "this workshop demonstrated that the children are well-informed about current events. Not only in general terms, but they have an awareness of various topics and show genuine curiosity."
Youssouf Sylla, the Elementary Education Inspector at the IA of Kédougou, emphasizes the importance of this workshop on two levels. Firstly, it provided students with an opportunity to practice writing and express their ideas. Secondly, it allowed the children to envision their future roles in society and the type of society they desire in the coming years.
"The students are truly inspiring. Through their writings, they have shared their experiences and expressed their aspirations. When a girl tells you that she wants to become a midwife to combat maternal mortality, you realize that she has either personally experienced or witnessed such a tragedy. Thus, she aspires to contribute to building a robust healthcare system where women no longer die during childbirth," explained Inspector Niang.
The children have spoken; they have shared their dreams and their vision for the future world they wish to live in. It is now our responsibility to work diligently so as not to disappoint them.
On this Day of the African Child, it is imperative that we advocate for the rights of every child in Senegal, Africa, and across the globe. Together, we must strive to create an environment where every child can thrive and fulfill their dreams in the future.
It is our collective responsibility to help children reclaim the most vital freedom of all: the freedom to be a child and to have dreams.