Ye Augusta and her daughter Haja joke and laugh continuously while having their portrait taken — their love for each other shines strongly. A few days later, they sit and share their stories over dinner.

Ye Augusta's Story

I lost my mother at a young age and my father left me soon after. I grew up in my aunt’s home, growing rice and other things. We couldn’t afford my school fees so I stayed at home. Later in life I worked on my own rice farm to feed myself and my seven daughters. Every grain went to us with nothing left to sell.

We left the farm one day to live in the nearby town for two reasons: my husband wanted to find more construction work and our farm gave us less rice. I miss growing food but I also want to move forward and learn about business. One day I want to open my own shop to sell clothes, shoes, or anything that would bring me many customers. My other wish is to see my daughters succeed and get the best education.

Ye Augusta poses with her daughters

Haja's Story

I went to Freetown as a young girl to live with my aunt who sold chewing gum, cigarettes and soft drinks to pay for my school fees. After three years, the business slowed down so I had to leave primary school. I was ten years old and my aunt could no longer support me.

After moving in with my mother again, I started feeling stomach pain. My family decided to use country medicine because the hospital asked for too much money. I took bangbas, a bitter root, by first cutting it into small pieces, then putting it in water overnight to reduce its bitterness. Every morning for a month I drank one cup of the bangbas water until the pain left me. 

I never went back to school, but I’m thinking about my future because of the new free education program. I’m twenty-two years old now, so I feel ashamed to enter primary school again. If I can find someone to help me reach junior secondary school (JSS) level, then I would not feel ashamed anymore. I will visit the local Ministry of Education office or women’s group to ask for advice. Even my mother should go to school!