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Twin Sisters Campaign for African Girls’ Magazine

FatmataKabia10-28aThird-year Cornell Law School student Fatmata Kabia and her twin sister, Mariama, began Memunatu magazine in 2011 when they were undergrads at the University of Pennsylvania. The magazine, aimed at underserved girls in West Africa, promotes literacy, leadership and empowerment.

The Kabias, who are Sierra Leonean-Americans, hosted a launch event for their campaign on Oct. 23 in Myron Taylor Hall. They hope to raise $30,000 to help with writing, production and distribution of their February 2015 issue focused on Ebola. The sisters hope to capitalize on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 2, a global initiative to promote giving following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when social enterprises are featured on the Indiegogo site.

“This issue will focus not only on the crisis, but also on how girls can take action,” says Fatmata Kabia. “Part of this Ebola issue will include a section on teen stories, where girls can share their impressions and experiences in dealing with the epidemic. We believe that this is a particularly good time for girls to lend a voice on the issue so that they can really frame the narrative in their own way.”

Fatmata Kabia traces her interest magazines to her childhood, and more specifically to her love for Scholastic News, a classroom publication on math, the social sciences and social events. Like Scholastic News, Memunatu is meant to encourage inquisitive reading outside the classroom.

The Kabias drew a connection between their shared passion for magazines and the literacy discrepancy between boys and girls in their parents’ home country of Sierra Leone and West Africa as a whole, especially in the 10-17 age range.

“We knew that we loved reading magazines but didn’t know how to make one. We were able to attend informational interviews at Condé Nast publishing, which helped us to understand what it took to create a magazine,” Fatmata Kabia said. The quarterly magazine is published and distributed to secondary schools in Sierra Leone and comes with a teachers’ guide.


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