Mabinty Conteh grew up in a village with her mother and father until her father abandoned the family when she was eight years old. When Mabinty was sixteen, a woman from Freetown came to her village on business and promised Mabinty and her mother a better life and a better education for Mabinty.
After a year living in Freetown, the woman who promised her a better life and education neglected her. Though Mabinty was still going to school, she had no money for books, a uniform, or food for lunch. A twenty-one-year-old man in her community stepped in to help her with these costs and told her he would be like a “big brother” to her. The relationship soon became sexual and Mabinty learned she was pregnant. The woman she was living with kicked Mabinty out and has not spoken to her since. She went to live with the father of her child but financial problems soon forced her to look for shelter elsewhere. When she came to Aberdeen Women’s Centre to register, she was approached by Hagar Olu-Jones or “teacher”. Hagar is one of the instructors for the “Dream Girls” Programme and encourages pregnant teenagers who come to the centre to attend Dream Girls classes.
Hagar teaches the girls sewing and tailoring and assists in health education and nutrition classes. She helps to inspire the young women that come to the class and build their confidence. At the end of Mabinty’s time in the programme it was Hagar who suggested that she join the Hostel Girls’ programme at AWC, which teaches young women skills in catering, hospitality, and housekeeping. Mabinty joined the programme and is now living with fourteen other girls at the hostel. She enjoys the camaraderie of the hostel and has made lifelong friends in addition to learning cooking, catering, and cleaning skills. Mabinty’s dream is to one day become a doctor and for her son to become a nurse.
“Teacher saw something in me and that’s why she encouraged me to join the Hostel Girls. I am so glad I did. I never want to leave.”