Like Bintu, Hawa also lives in northeast Nigeria. And like Bintu, she couldn’t be clearer about the connection between education and a more hopeful future.
Hawa fled her hometown of Gwoza at the bottom of the Mandara Mountains when it was captured by militants in 2014. She returned when Gwoza was retaken by Nigeria’s military the following year, a year later, but in that short time away violence had upended her world. She lost her father, her school, and, for a time, her hope for the future.
“The militants destroyed everything in the school. I thought that my future was over,” she says.
Fast forward to today and a more optimistic picture emerges. Hawa still doesn’t know what happened to some of her friends, and while life for those who returned remains precarious, they now have better access to services – including education. The local school has been rebuilt, new classrooms are being set up and the space is once again brimming with young people’s voices.
For Hawa, all this is an opportunity give back.
Hawa says she now helps her sister and four brothers with their homework. “If I learn, then so will the younger children in the community.
Ultimately, she would like to become a teacher, so other children can have the same opportunity she had. “I’m passionate about this because of the way the teachers have taught me,” she says. “And if I don’t come back to teach, who will?”
-- With additional reporting from Toby Fricker and Murtaza Mohammadi