May 5, 2014, 9:48 AM
Starfish International aims at empowering Gambian girls by providing them with advanced education focused on service to humanity as well as providing international service-learning opportunities for their volunteers.
The charitable organisation also aims at establishing a state-of-the-art academy of excellence that would provide the Gambian girl-child an exceptional education from pre-school to graduating school.
Every participant in this endeavour, including administrators, teachers, volunteers, and students, would be motivated by the end goal of service to humanity and be challenged to find effective ways of infusing service to others in their daily work.
The values and five qualities highlighted in Starfish International are nobility, independence, courtesy, knowledge, and service.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony held at St. Peter’s Technical Senior and Junior Secondary School Hall in Lamin, Khadijah Aja Tambajang, guest speaker on the occasion, said what she saw and experienced when she walked into the doors of the school hall about two years ago renewed her faith in humanity as well nailed the importance of service in her mind.
“I will save you the stuffy rhetoric of being ‘good’ old boys and girls, in order to make it in life,” she said, while calling on the graduands to be courteous at all time.
She further called on them to learn to say ‘No’ to all societal elements that weigh them down, such as dogma.
“We are made to believe that things are the way they are and we must accept. I urge you to say ‘No’ to it. Things have to change,” she said.
“Girls must be given the same rights as boys in terms of education and same treatment on the home front,” Madam Tambajang further said.
“True, we live in a paternalistic world and there are gender ordained roles but those are all negotiable in the home. They are not concrete,” she stated, adding that both boys and girls could pretty much do all things equally in the world now.
“Hence they should say ‘No’ to being made to feel any less because they are a girl child. You can aspire to be anything your heart desires in this world. Your gender is not a barrier,” she added.
She said Starfish was initially brought about with the social, emotional and educational supporting of girls in mind, but she does understand that boys are now part of the programme, which made the initiative great because she believe they ought to bring them along in order to show them the way of being better partners and men in society at an early age.
“I urge you all to leave here with a sense of purpose to be better than you were at the start of this programme. Take the lessons learnt here and share with your friends and family. Be a changed agent and in that way you can have the right to complain about all injustices and you can say ‘No’ to them,” she stated.
Mam Yassin Sarr, founder of Starfish International, said the importance of girls’ education could not be overemphasized and therefore encouraged students to spend their time on constructive things.
During the summer camp they teach students various topics as well as give them a chance to realize their dreams what they want to do, to be responsible citizens and fulfill their dreams, Mrs Sarr remarked.
She said they do not want opportunities to come to students by surprise; which is why they prepare them on all aspects of life during the programme to be able to overcome challenges.
All the students were awarded with certificates at the end of the graduation while deserving students were also given awards.