Mariam share’s her inspiring story, how she was able to achieve her dreams by taking English classes at DIWC, which then led to her enrolling at Dundee College and to take on a Receptionist role at the Centre. Which just goes to show that no matter what, you should always try to push yourself and make the most out of the opportunities in front of you – and she did just that!
I married young and settled in Dundee after a time
I was born and brought up in Mali. My whole family is still living there. Back in 2006 at the age of 18, I married a young man, Mahamadou who is now my husband. We moved to Paris after our marriage. I spent 2 months in Paris before moving to Dundee.
Feeling isolated due to the language barrier led me to DIWC
At first, Dundee felt very foreign to me. I felt lonely and isolated when I first arrived with no one to talk to and nowhere to go. Going from living with all my family members to arriving at a city I had never even heard of was a very strange feeling. Watching the TV does not help as all the channels are in English and I did not understand the language at that time.
My husband’s friend informed us about Dundee International Women’s Centre. From there I started the beginner’s English class. I was not going to let my language barrier stop me from living a good life. I decided that I needed to go out of the house and do something for myself. Once I gained my self-confidence and my English began to improve I attended other classes and events in the centre. I then gathered the courage to take my English skills to the next level by attending Dundee College.
Living in this city enabled me to achieve my dreams in a way I never thought possible
I never expected that Dundee would be the city that enabled me to achieve my dreams. I pushed myself harder and enrolled in a computing class which taught me admin and customer service skills. I got the opportunity to apply these skills in a real-life working environment. I did my placement as a receptionist at DIWC. While doing all this I was pregnant with my third child. It was a hard journey to take care of 2 toddlers, being pregnant and also trying to go after my ambitions. Sometimes I feel like I am trying to do too much at one time. But I felt so empowered to not give up. After I completed my placement I continued to volunteer for 3 months at DIWC until I applied for the receptionist post in 2016.
I have achieved so much already, but want to do more
I never dreamt in my life that I will be able to not only speak English fluently but to be able to secure a job. My biggest achievement was when I completed my ECDL course. Now I feel that anything in this world is possible as long as I put my mind into it.
Being a full-time mum with 3 young children and working as a receptionist at the same time; I don’t think my 18-year-old self would have believed that I could be the woman I am today.
All this was possible because of the encouragement and support I got from the DIWC. Even on a bad day, I come into the centre and instantly feel better about myself. The crèche facility is a huge driver in enabling me to further my education. Knowing that my children are always nearby puts my mind at ease.
In 5 years’ time, I would like to see myself established in a role where I am even busier than I am now – if that’s even possible! I have been in Dundee for 9 years and I am loving my life here. Sometimes when I go back to Mali I need to readjust myself to fit right back in. Dundee has changed me in ways I thought was never possible. I am now fluent in English, French and Bambara. Even if I move to another city in the future I am confident that I can make the most of it.
Mariam Niakate #WomenOfDundee