AN INTERVIEW WITH HER EXCELLENCY FATOUMATTA BAH BARROW (FIRST LADY OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA)

It was an exciting time with the First Lady of Gambia, Fatoumatta Barrow on Friday as we discussed on matters that affects Africa and how to better resolve them. 

Her Excellency Fatoumatta Bah Barrow- Profile
First Lady of the Republic of The Gambia

The First Lady of the Republic of The Gambia, Her Excellency Fatoumatta Bah
Barrow was born on 5th August 1974 in Banjul. Her father Abdoulie Bah was a
local businessman, whereas her mother Isatou Jallow was mostly known
amongst the community for her compassion and generosity towards the poor and
the needy.

Growing up, the First Lady spent her childhood in Basse with her two siblings,
where she attended the St. George’s School. Having completed her education
and moved to the Capital city of Banjul, the First Lady married the current
President of the Republic, His Excellency Adama Barrow on 20 th March 1997 and
is blessed with a son named Mamadou Barrow and a daughter called Taibou
Barrow. In her leisure time, the First Lady enjoys watching documentaries and all
forms of educational programs, as well as keeping up with current world affairs
and sports.

From the year 2000 to 2001, the First Lady worked as a Sales and Marketing
Agent at an oil company entitled Elton, and then later worked at a local GSM
company named Africell from 2001 to 2008. From 2009, the First Lady was
occasionally involved in small business activities and also helped her spouse in
his political career debut. As the 2016 Presidential elections drew nearer, the
First Lady became actively involved in a door to door campaign, seeking support
from citizens to vote for her husband, at a time when many feared change, due to
circumstances under the former regime.
Such courage and determination for change clearly demonstrated by the First
Lady, is a trait that makes her distinct from many others. In an attempt to fulfill
the promises made during the vigorous campaign trail, the First Lady wishes to
ensure that the people of the Gambia do experience the change that was often
envisaged in certain domains.
Therefore, as the First Lady of the Republic, Her Excellency Fatoumatta Bah
Barrow instantly became engaged in various humanitarian/charitable
organizations and activities targeted at the most vulnerable groups of society,
women and children. The public role she assumed predominantly focuses on
providing assistance to all Gambians, with a particular focus on women and
children to help enhance their lives by ensuring that they have access to quality
education, health and social services.

For this reason, the First Lady makes frequent visits to the country’s main referral

Hospital, the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, making donations of
medical equipment and helping facilitate life-saving surgery for newborn babies
amongst others. In her determination to address certain challenges, the First
Lady also creates linkages with the private sector and foreign partners by
encouraging them to invest in the area of health, education and women’s
empowerment. With such an all-inclusive approach, it is hoped that major
improvements will be made in these areas.
Where women are concerned, the First Lady wishes to promote gender equality
to naturally empower women and girls through education. In her efforts in the
area of education, the First Lady has visited several schools including those
where school feeding programmes have been introduced which she hopes would
be widely practiced in all schools in the near future.
As part of her philanthropic activities, during the Holy month of Ramadan the
First Lady donated basic food commodities to help poor and needy children at
numerous madarassas, patients in hospitals and detainees at the Gambia
Central Prison, in order to spread the message of hope and ensure that they are
not forgotten. Additionally, an ‘Iftar’ programme with community members was also introduced, whereby the First Lady interacted and feed hundreds of locals from a certain community during the serene month of Ramadan simply out of goodwill.

As part of her on-going efforts to reach out to communities around the country, the First Lady also visits victims of natural disasters due to heavy rains and donates items ranging from basic food commodities, clothing and other essentials.

Due to the fact that she is fairly new, the First Lady is in the process of
developing programmes that will address key issues in different areas. These
include plans to raise awareness on peculiar challenges that women in The
Gambia and other parts of the world face relative to cancer and infertility. In an
effort to raise awareness and mobilize the support necessary for the inclusion of
such women in society, partnerships with various organisations are being
considered in order to help break barriers and create opportunities for all women.
Additionally, medical services and equipment are needed in this domain.It is
therefore hoped that the areas of health and education amongst others get the
support required in terms of medical equipment, training of health personnel,
consumables/drugs and all other required material are obtained.
In the national response to AIDS, the First Lady wishes to embark upon a
vigorous advocacy campaign by providing the necessary support and
commitment to ensure that the main challenges faced by health workers, HIV
patients and adolescents are addressed or significantly reduced.
This is hoped to bring about positive change and to instill a sense of a spirit of
solidarity and partnership amongst key players in the national commitment and
fight against HIV and AIDS.
In view of the above, in May this year, the First Lady initiated her Foundation
entitled ‘Fatoumatta Bah Barrow – FaBB’, in order to pursue her desire to not
only bring about change, but to also help save and improve the lives of the
vulnerable groups of society throughout the country

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