Gambia And Sierra Leone 1st Ladies Receive Honourary Doctorate Degree Awards

The Gambia's first lady Fatoumatta Bah Barrow and her counterpart Mrs. Fatima Maada Bio of Sierra Leonean were awarded with Honourary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters on Saturday during the sixth graduation ceremony of the American International University West Africa (AIUWA).

Giving the Gambia first lady's citation, the vice chancellor of AIUWA, Prof. Dr. Mackie Taal states: In order to fulfil hers and the president's campaign promises, the first lady instantly after assuming office engaged in various humanitarian activities directed at the most vulnerable groups of society, women and children with the aim to enhance their lives by providing them with access to quality education, health and social services.

He added that the first lady's contribution in the response to HIV/AIDS, includes vigorous advocacy campaigns, 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.

The first lady's citation continued that where women were concerned, she promotes gender equality with programmes to empower women and girls such as education and health care. "She also champions and supports school feeding programmes, with the main aim of eradicating hunger, malnutrition and stunted growth among children."

"Through the Fatoumatta Bah Barrow's foundation (FaBB) set-up in 2017 by the first lady, series of humanitarian relief support and health care intervention programmes have taken place by specialised medical teams from different parts of the world."

As a result of the above mentioned, surgeries in cases of hydrocephalous and spinalbifeda, general paediatric surgery, paediatric urology surgery, paediatric neurosurgery, paediatric maxillofacial and plastic surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, as well as neonatal and respiratory care have all taken place through FaBB.

The citation further revealed that the first lady makes frequent visits to the country's main referral Hospital and the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital making donations of medical equipment and helping facilitate live-saving surgery for new-born babies.

"As part of her philanthropic activities, Mrs. Barrow during the month of Ramadan donates food commodities to help the poor and needy children at madrassas, patients in hospitals and detainees at the Gambia Central Prisons, in order to spread the message of hope and ensure that they are not forgotten"

Within the sub-region, the citation pointed out that H.E the first lady serves as the Champion for Children on the Move and renders support to ensure that children in The Gambia and within the sub-region are safe, secured and their rights guaranteed.

Madam Fatima Maada Bio, in her citation is said to be involved in charity/advocacy since her teenage years. She got international recognition when she spearheaded the Hands-Off-our-Girls campaign launched by H.E. Dr. Julius Maada Bio in 2018.

Madam Fatima Maada Bio made food donations to the needy as an integral part of her office. Her endeavour was brought to the fore at the height of the Covid-19 crises, where she launched the National Food Basket.

Mrs. Bio is said to be directly involved in a full array of humanitarian activities which includes but not limited to: providing safe drinking water in communities, refurbishing and building hospitals, donating drugs to hospitals, visiting hospitals severally to meet with patients and more importantly giving kudos to health workers.

Prior to the above mentioned humanitarian works to improve lives of women and children by the two first ladies, the board of trustees of the American International University West Africa (AIUWA), approved the recommendation of awarding them Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters (DHumLitt) in recognition of their efforts.

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