One Young World Ambassador from Guinea, Mohamed Saidou Diallo, is founder and chairman of SAUVONS LA TERRE.
Convincing parents to bring their children to school is a real challenge in Guinea.
SAUVONS LA TERRE is a not-for-profit organisation formed in 2011 in the capital of Guinea, Conakry. As the founder, I aim to inspire young people and work towards sustainable education based development.
Inspired by the One Young World Summit 2013, on 14 December 2013 we launched a huge education campaign targeting 800 children we identified with no access to education.
We started bringing children between the ages of 2 and 12 to school and initiated a sensitization campaign – ‘Change their destiny’ – encouraging donations such as school bags, books, pens, shoes and clothes to be given to 200 children.
[[[image-1 medium right]]] The majority of children receiving these donations are from families whose parents are often disabled or blind. These children are obliged to support their parents; begging and asking for money instead of going to school.
'These children are our eyes and our ears,' they say.
Disabled parents do not have financial support from the government; families often live in cramped urban centres with no sanitation, health care or schooling.
But this problem is not insurmountable: we can rise to this challenge.
The way to fight poverty and unemployment is through education – and promoting local entrepreneurship to fight unemployment also.
When we launched our campaign, we also called on the government of Guinea to initiate a vote to parliament for free access to education for poor and disabled children. But this problem is not simply the duty of the government.
After Conakry, the next step for SAUVONS LA TERRE is further inland where the situation is worse.
The great challenge in Guinea remains girls’ education.
Traditionally, the role and place of women is at home. In rural areas girls are often forced to marry at the age of 12 – often to men they have never met. Many fear if a girl goes to school she will turn against her culture: as she is educated, becomes aware of and defends her rights she will no longer respect her husband and role in the home. Convincing these parents to educate their daughters is doubly difficult.
However it is society’s collective responsibility to increase the number of children going to school.
If every person sponsored a child in some way – a donation or fee contribution – real impact and societal change could be achieved.
Through education, SAUVONS LA TERRE strives to rescue children from the street or being restricted to the home. They too could be the next Bethlehem Alemu or Barack Obama. And, in the words of Nelson Mandela:
‘Education is the most powerful weapon that we can use to change the world.'