by Geneba BM Koroma
The vision of the First Lady is clear. When you hear the name First Lady of Sierra Leone, the first thing that comes to mind is the “Hands Off Our Girls” campaign. In December 2018, First Ladies from across Africa met in Freetown to launch the campaign.
The “Hands Off Our Girls” campaign aspiration has been consistent with Fatima Bio’s longer-term vision. The vision is impregnated with purpose. Bio has been strategically carving out the time to turn her dream into reality.
One can then affirm that the bold and beautiful First Lady is emboldened with achievable goals, carefully planned and implemented.
But why would I want to assess the clarity of the First Lady’s “20/20 Vision” in the year 2020?
Maybe because the title is fancy? Or her tremendous pro-activism that has rankled her critics, in advocating for the girl child, the helpless and women empowerment, has been rewarding?
According to medical experts, 20/20 eye vision shows the sharpness of an image at a distance.
Unequivocally the answer to the second question is “YES.” However, the landscape has not become any less complicated for her many significant accomplishments.
Mrs. Fatima Jabbe Maada Bio is proactive. The First Lady actively involves in and voices her views on Africa and Sierra Leone issues. She uses the media to carry her thoughts and opinions to the public. Her growing influence is resonating with the media and making her critics rigid and outraged.
Nonetheless, the Office of the First Lady of Sierra Leone has become a powerful component, with the riveting Mrs. Fatima Maada Bio, through her hard work, determination, and efforts.
Bio has changed the stereotypical role of First Lady in Sierra Leone and is making incredible progress. The First Lady is unrelenting and unapologetic. She sets goals and establishes her priorities to transform the image of women in Sierra Leone.
The Sierra Leone public still holds a fascination and respect for Mrs. Bio and her husband, President Julius Maada Bio.
This synergy has rippled the imagination of their critics.
Despite all malicious criticisms against her, Mrs. Fatima Bio has maintained a divergent advocacy pattern for her plan and continues to do so unabated.
Reading through the First Lady’s Dossier, I can emphatically document the clarity of her vision through her work in the country without a vision statement from her.
It is true, even amid the COVID 19 and vehement disparagements.
In January 2020, both the First Lady and her husband, His Excellency, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio opened two mosques with donations of food items in Bauya and Tihun, both in the Bonthe District.
The Free Sanitary Pad campaign kicked-off with the “One Nation Concert.” National and International Gospel Artists performed on March 7th and 8th at Bintumani Hotel and at the National Stadium in Freetown, respectively, to raise funds to keep girls in school.
In April, the First Lady taught the world about love, as she expressed her affection for her husband.
Now, why would this be part of her 20/20 vision?
Mrs. Bio said, “I will be thanking God for making my world an example for other women to believe that indeed it is possible to find true love and soul mate. But it is possible when we free ourselves from hate for another person’s happiness.”
May 12, 2020, was like manna from heaven with the continuation of the First Lady’s Annual Ramadan Feeding Program.
The First Lady, in partnership with the Julius Maada Bio Women’s Wing and Associates, launched the National Food Basket Feeding Program.
The nationwide program provided food and condiments to over 10,000 households. The donations include bags of rice, onions, palm oil, sugar, and more.
In June, The First Lady celebrated the Day of the African virtually due to COVID 19. She had a Special Guest, her husband, the President of Sierra Leone, to encourage the children to stay in school and be good citizens.
The First Lady used the occasion to donate food items to orphanages and the disabled community in Freetown, engaging both young and old. The beneficiaries shared their stories and made recommendations during the virtual celebration.
On July 14, 2020, the Police Wives association executives and The Armed Forces Wives Cooperative Society met with First Lady Fatima Maada Bio. The meeting was to discuss rape issues and bring about a cultural shift in Sierra Leone.
The two organizations discussed with the First Lady how to help those in dismal situations and intercede with government entities to end rape and abuse against vulnerable girls and women.
With the First Lady by his side, H. E. Dr. Julius Maada Bio launched the first Sexual Offences Model Court for rape proceedings on Friday, July 24, 2020. For Government officials, fulfilling a promise made to the Sierra Leonean populace and the International community at the UNGA in 2019, this was an occasion to celebrate.
The First Lady joined the Merck Foundation and their First Ladies Initiative Video Conference Summit on August 31. The virtual conference was to “define and follow up on different joint programs that aim to advance public healthcare sector capacity and strengthen the response to COVID 19 in their countries”.
On September 20, The First Lady gave an update on Sierra Leonean young women’s repatriation from Lebanon.
The First lady went on to report that “part of our Private visit to Lebanon is to make sure we bring back our girls home, and I am elated that we achieved our agenda.”
While in Lebanon, the First Lady continued to mesmerize her supporters and even opponents. She posted honeymoon pictures of her and her husband, portraying that their love has not dwindled, against all the odds.
Here is another good news for Sierra Leoneans from the office of the First Lady. HE Fatima Bio will distribute 45,000 sanitary Pads across the country, one container of wheelchairs, Medicine, and Medical equipment.
We have seen that Mrs. Fatima Bio has maintained the status quo. No amounts of the opposition have deterred her progress. She is on the move with an exact 20/20 vision soaring through the year 2020.
With a September to remember, October, November, and December will unfathomably climax the year 2020 for the First Lady and her priorities.
What is your 20/20 vision?
Geneba BM Koroma is the SLPPNA Publicity Secretary and Chairman of the SLPP NA Communications Committee. You can reach Geneba at Jkmba05@yahoo.com