Binta Fatty was just 14 when she was forced to marry her uncle, a Gambian immigrant in Italy. At 15, she became a mum.
Unlike most child-wives, Binta refused to drop out of school. She is now pursuing a Master's Degree in Diplomacy in Poland after received a European Union (EU) scholarship.
In this interview, she tells us more about her journey from being a child-wife to a diplomat in the making.
Whatâ€™s On-Gambia: Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Binta:Iâ€™ m Binta Fatty. I have just completed my BA in Economics at the Skarbek University in Poland, and now studying Diplomacy, postgraduate degree.
My Family is well known in The Gambia, we are originally from Kiang Kolior.
How did you come up with the idea of studying in Poland?
I grow up at Brikama and I was living with my mum. I went to Bottrop Junior and then I moved to Glory Baptist, where I sat my WAEC exam. I also attended G.T.T.I and after that I proceeded to Trust Communications Training Institute to study Banking and Finance, and while I was doing my last Advanced Diploma, one of lecturers asked if I wanted to study in Poland.
By then I never knew about Poland and I though he was talking about Holland. He contacted one of the universities and I was lucky to be accepted.
We were 10 students, 9 Gambians and 1 Nigerian that left for Poland. When we arrived, I went straight to the university to start my degree education.
I value education, because when I was younger I almost dropped out of school. At the age of 14, I was forced to marry my uncle who is living in Italy. I was in Grade 9 and heavily pregnant, but I refused to discontinue my education. My son is now nine years old and living with my mum.
Are you still married to your uncle?
No. We got divorced when I moved to Poland to start university. You know in The Gambia, men feel very uncomfortable around educated women.
According to information reaching us, you are the only black student in your university. Is that true?
Yes, that is true. I think that was the main reason why the university was keen to accept me.
Tell us about the masterâ€™s degree you just started?
I am interested in international relations and diplomacy. So, I applied for a European Union scholarship to start a masterâ€™s degree in diplomacy and luckily, I was granted. I am doing my masterâ€™s in Polish.
What are some of the challenges you went through during your early days in Poland?
Well, the language was hard and the people are not that open or friendly compared to Gambians. Most polish people donâ€™t also speak English.
Itâ€™s also very cold during the winter season.
Are black people safe from racist attacks?
Since I came to Poland, I never had any problem. Some of the things are just normal to me â€“like when am going on the street people asking to take pictures or they will point at me because am different from them.
Poland was a communist country and is also in Eastern Europe. Their economy is not very strong and when they see foreigners here, they are surprise because they canâ€™t understand what we are doing in their country.
Have you ever been asked out by a Polish guy?
That was in the past, now I am married again to a Gambian. Yes, I dated one of them.
Oh, are you married now?
Yes, to someone that I love. Not arranged (laughs). He lives in The Gambia.
Do you know how many Gambians live in Poland?
The ones I know are not more than 20 and they mainly live in the capital city.
Are you planning to stay in Poland or return to The Gambia after your studies?
I want to work for my country. I will go back, if there are opportunities for me. But I want to do one more masterâ€™s degree in International Relations. That is my dream inshalla.
Do you have any advice for students considering study in Poland?
They are welcome. Poland has good universities and education is very important in life.
Thank you and good luck with your studies!
You welcome! Thank you also for the opportunity to share my story.