‘I was born in France. At the age of 8, my two younger sisters and I went to Gambia where we spent most of our teenage years. I was lucky enough to have completed my high school education compared to some women from my community. At the age of 18 I got married. My future husband and I met each other in Gambia and he asked me to marry him. We got married two years after the proposal was made. However, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t only be a housewife. I had to prove to myself and my community that even if you are married at the age of 18, you can still achieve anything if you are determined to go after it.
I joined my husband in Malaysia in December ‘96 and the first thing I looked for was an opportunity to continue my education. My husband helped me to find a centre to do beginners IT class. It was the first time I had ever touched a computer in January ’97. It was an intensive 4 week course. I wanted to do my A level but I got pregnant and I was not planning to have my baby in Malaysia, so I had to find a short course. I then found an Intermediate course and I finished beginning of July and left for France to have my first baby in October 97.
After spending few years in France my husband got a job in the UK. So we made the decision to migrate. I came to Nuneaton on my own with my 3 months old baby. It was a very difficult journey. I worked as a cleaner in one of the local hospitals. Even though times were hard I believe that there is no point sitting at home feeling sorry for myself it is better to get along with life and keep fighting till you get what you dream of.
From there my journey took me to enrolling into a local college to do an A/AS level in ICT, French and English to graduating with a postgraduate degree in Community Learning and Development. It wasn’t an easy road. By this time I was a mum of 5 children; taking care for them, studying, volunteering and working at the same time. But I was determined to fulfil my promise to myself and achieve my dream of having a degree.
Having volunteered in 5 different places I felt that shaped and influenced my career to a large degree. As I was growing up I had so many different aspirations: to be a teacher or to be a nurse, many things. But I am glad I am still working in an Adult Learning environment so I am living the dream really.
I’ve got four sisters and two brothers. One of my sister’s lives in New York, another in Birmingham. My other two brothers and sisters live in France. My parents migrated to France in the 70’s so they’ve been in France for many years now. Technology does make it a lot easier to be in touch with my family but I do still miss them. We do see each other throughout the year though. Sometimes I will go visit them and sometimes they will visit us.
In my West African French community, everything was a party! I really miss that about home sometimes. Even in France there is a big African community so every weekend there is a party to dress up to go to but in Dundee there isn’t anything like that. I believe that it will be good if the African community in Dundee come together more often to display the African culture. I think that will enrich Dundee and bring about an awareness about the rich and diverse African culture and its diverse peoples. I don’t know how long I will be living in the UK. Eventually I would like to go back to Gambia to work there and contribute to its socio-educational development. I think my experience in Scotland and the UK will be helpful in playing an important role in Gambia. I have 5 children; I have my Master’s postgraduate degree; and many more on the list.’ #WomenOfDundee Diare Sylla