Fatmata is 18 years old. She lives in the town of Kissy in East Freetown, Sierra Leone with her two sisters; the eldest is her legal guardian. The girls occupy one room in a house with four other tenants.

Yet before this, Fatmata and her sisters lived in a rural village under the care of their loving parents. While neither parent had a formal education, they got by financially. Fatmata’s father was a farmer and her mother was a trader. The couple sold food and clothes to others in the village; making just enough to support their family.

However, in April 2014 the Ebola virus swept across Sierra Leone, killing thousands and leaving villages of orphans behind.

Fatmata was 17 when she lost both of her parents. Her father contracted Ebola in the spring followed shortly after by her mother, who had become infected while caring for him. The family was quarantined for 21 days during which time Fatmata’s parents and neighbours all died from the virus.

With their parents gone, Fatmata’s older sister became the girls’ legal guardian. The sisters moved from their small village to Freetown, hoping to escape the virus and find work. The girls started doing petty trading of clothes and other goods to support themselves, yet it was not enough to provide everything they needed.

Children playing jump ropeDuring the outbreak, schools and other public facilities were closed. Fatmata began to fear that she would never receive an education. Although the government ran educational programs over the radio, children in Fatmata’s town needed supplies to continue their schooling. Thanks to Beautiful World, she received those supplies.

Fatmata was provided with a radio, notebooks, and all her other school supplies so she could continue her studies during the outbreak. Fatmata was able to keep her mind busy by focusing on school and ensuring she would be able to continue to the next grade after the quarantine was over.

After Sierra Leone was declared ‘Ebola Free’, Fatmata went back to formal schooling. She credits her success in school to the support of her sisters and Beautiful World. Knowing the importance of education, Fatmata wants to gain employment in a field that will allow her to support her sisters. With a love of numbers and a want to succeed in the job market, Fatmata dreams of one day becoming an accountant.