My name is Aissatou Diallo and I come from a small village in the northern part of Burkina called Katchari. I am eleven years old. I live with my mother, older brother and my pet goat named Doomaray. I am the first person in my family to attend school. Before the Bright school, the closest school to Katchari was four hours away in Dori, too far to walk for children like me.
Sending me to the Bright school was my grandmother’s idea. My father, may his soul rest in peace, was sick and wanted me to stay home and help him with the goats. But my grandmother spoke to a village elder, and he came to my house and insisted that I go. But even after that day, my father would often say to me that if I would just stay home for a few days, they would cross my name off that list and I wouldn’t have to go to school anymore. I would tell him, OK Aba, but I will just go today and we’ll see about tomorrow. And then the next day I would say the same thing. That’s how I finished my first two years without missing any days. But I think today, my father would be very proud of me.
When I finish school, I want to become a doctor. I will show my relatives and friends that school is important and useful. It’s because of school that I can read and write and do math. I am the first in my family to do so.
Thank you, Mrs. Obama, the American people, Mr. Daniel Yohannes, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and my government. It is because of the Bright School of Katchari that I am even here with you today celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. It is because of MCC and my government of Burkina Faso that I am was able to visit my capital Ouagadougou and the capital of the USA — Washington DC. It was also my first time on an airplane. That was exciting. I want the Bright schools of Burkina to continue so that no girls are left at home and all of them can have the chances that I have had to receive an education. I know there is a lot of hard work ahead if I am to become a doctor, but with a little bit of help, I know I, and other girls like me, can succeed.
Now it is my pleasure to introduce the First Lady of the United States of America, Mrs. Michelle Obama.