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02/11/2019

Flipping the Script to Empower Young Girls in Developing Countries

For most children in The Gambia, finding illustrated storybooks with characters that look like and connect to them is difficult. Nearly 12 years ago, YaAdam Fye A’06, ’07 worked with her mother Lucy and sister Anna, to create the Fye Network. With this business, they promote literacy in The Gambia and the importance of creating children’s books with identities that are relatable to the children themselves. So far, the network has published three book series:

The Royal Adventures of Princess Halima
  • This exciting series educates readers about the different countries of Africa as Princess Halima adventures through multiple nations, unlocking the wonders and mysteries of each.

The Samba and Batch Series
  • This dynamic series of five stories consists of two best friends named Samba and Batch. Their lives in the Sahara Desert illustrate their daily adventures and the lessons they learn along the way.

The Bakary on Safari Series
  • This playful series follows an 8 year-old boy named Bakary, and his animal friends, as they embark on exciting adventures — learning and playing through the wild Serengeti of Tanzania.

It is no surprise that Fye is completing such extraordinary work. In 2013, she was awarded with the Hillyer College Outstanding Young Alumnus Award for her international endeavors improving health, and the access to educational opportunities for at-risk youth in the United States and Africa.

 For her most recent commitments with the Fye Network, Fye has received notable honors recognitions, including features on Reuters and BBC Africa.

In July 2018, Fye was selected as one of The Obama Leaders: Africa, and attended the Obama Leaders Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. At the conference, Fye learned from and met with powerful leaders like herself, from all around the continent, with the fundamental mission of empowering change in their own communities.

In August 2018, Fye was acknowledged by Quartz Africa, a business news outlet, as a 2018 Quartz Africa Innovator. This title is given to 30 individuals who are identified as having bold character and a creative attitude. As Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, read the list of the thirty 2018 Quartz Africa Innovators, he shared that he wished the world could see Africa the way he does, “a young continent filled with optimism and innovation.”

Fye cites the time she spent in Hillyer College as being the catalyst for her humanitarian work, as it gave her the desire to contribute to her wonderful home in Africa. She has also stated that is was the warm, welcoming environment of Hillyer that calmed her nerves and helped her find her home-away-from-home.

“It was with the empowering support and guidance from my Hillyer professors that I today continue to think outside of the box, take calculated risks, and learn from both my successes and failures.”

Fye admires Bilal Sekou, professor of political science, for his passion in politics, human rights, and the advancement of the voiceless, attesting that he is an exceptional advisor. She credits Sekou’s passions as the motivating factors which fueled her own and influenced her decision to major in Political Economy. 

Hillyer College is home for Fye. “Here,” she says, “I found my voice – I embraced the authentic me and my worldly views.” When asked what she would tell a first-year student, Fye humbly stated:

 “Be you in every sense! Embrace the journey, be open-minded and have fun!”

For the time being, the Fye Network is working on their next book for the Royal Adventures of Princess Halima series, in which the Princess will visit Nigeria and learn all about the culture, traditions, history, and its people. Fye also disclosed that they are also working on a new empowered female character, called Fatou The Warrior who “will embody the resilience, bravery, and challenges faced by young girls in developing countries.”