Jainaba’s mother, Fiedy Cham, wanted all of her children to have an education. For most of them, that was financially impossible. But Jainaba has defied these odds and this year has started tenth grade at a major, metropolitan area high school.
The family lives in Bani, which has only a primary school and whose children attend the Salikenni school for grades 7-9, thereby becoming eligible for SSF scholarships. Fiedy Cham, a widow, presides over the family compound.
One of Jainaba’s older sisters, Jele, dropped out of school in ninth grade because there was no money to pay her fee. A brother, Siaka, never went to school and became a driver of one of the passenger vans that run daily between Salikenni and Bara, at the edge of the metropolitan area. Another brother, Kemba, almost made it through high school. A relative was paying his fees but stopped paying near the end of high school. So he could not take the final exam or graduate. He, too, became a van driver.
Jainaba, whose surname is pronounced FYE, applied to join SSF in 2011 when she was in seventh grade in Salikenni. She was admitted and quickly became one of SSF’s best students among both girls and boys. She completed grade nine in 2013-14 with very good exam results. She is now in tenth grade at Kotu Senior Secondary School in the suburbs of the capital city, Banjul. She is living in the SSF campus in Serrekunda. She told us earlier that she wanted to be a doctor, but she has enrolled in a commerce track at Kotu.