We had a heart-to-heart with her, and what came out was an inspiring story. We are lucky to have you in our team, Awa Biba Barry!
My name is Ma Awa Barry. I am 26 years old, reside in Tanji and am the face of My Gambia and co-creator of My Magazine. In my mother's language (Mandinka), Ma means Grandmother, and Awa refers to the first woman, ˝Eve˝. My mum named me after her maternal ancestor, a great woman in the history of Guinea. There is even a river named after her, which serves as her memorial tomb. It is also a sacred ground where people pray to their ancestors for wealth, marriage, children, victory in wars and more.
After finishing tenth grade, I dropped out of school and started looking for a job. Since I wasn't getting a job, I decided to undergo computer training for six months, which I completed with excellent scores. I had just about given up when one morning on December 22, 2020, I received a text message from my friend Mam Jarra, along with an advert for a vacancy at My Gambia. However, my euphoria was short-lived when I read their requirements, as I had neither a High School Certificate nor a Bachelor's degree. But Mam Jarra believed in me and encouraged me to apply for the job, which I did apprehensively on Christmas day.
To my surprise, I was asked to come for an interview the next day. At this time, I was in Senegal on a shooting-cum-short holiday but left immediately so I could make it to the interview in time. All I had with me was hope, my dreams and the yearning to learn! You can imagine my happiness when I landed this job! It was one of the happiest moments of my life, as I would get to pursue my passion and get paid for it, too.
Since I joined My Gambia, I have learnt a lot! My bosses are simply amazing, and they have been very patient in teaching me what I needed to know. Jasmina is more of a friend, while Ursa is a mother figure to me.
When I joined My Gambia, I was 24 years old and excited about being part of a new team. Over the past two years, I have grown personally, professionally and financially. And the credit for this goes to the two extraordinary ladies who are my biggest support system in every way. It's been an amazing and, at the same time, bumpy journey with My Gambia. There were days we laughed together, cried together, and on some days, we hit rock bottom and thought we would never get back up again, but we did and continued to strive towards the common goal.
When I was in nursery school, my goals were simple - I wanted to be a secretary when I grew up. I was obsessed with computers and wanted to be a secretary so I could have a computer and type like the women in movies. I would sneak into my parents' room and use my father's typewriter when he wasn't around. I would pretend I was a secretary in a movie and try to type stylishly with my fingers flying over the keyboard. But with time, I actually became efficient at typing.
When I turned 8, I watched an Indian movie which sparked my love for acting. I underwent acting and public speaking training at SPORTADEMIC for four years and later joined GMB Brains Theatre. I had a crowd phobia and needed training to overcome this fear. I still feel nervous in crowds, but I am getting better at handling it now.
My hobbies are going to the gym, writing tragic stories and acting. I am very active and do not believe in wasting time. Besides my job in My Gambia, I am an actress and a screenwriter in my free time, and I want to be a full-fledged actress one day. I love being on a movie set; it's where I can unleash my inner actress.
Earlier, I used to think it was only possible to succeed with education. But now, with experience, I can say that while education is essential, it does not determine one's success. Besides, education is not limited to learning at school. I didn't complete high school, but I have learned through online tutorials, people, my environment and my experience.
A woman I admire said, "Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe".
My biggest dream is to realize my mother's dreams and light up her world. She is beautiful and amazing - someone I will always choose to be my mother. There are no words to describe my mum. To me, she is unparalleled.
Financial independence is essential to every person, and anyone working towards it is doing so to make a better life for himself/herself and all those who are connected to him/her. I want to be financially independent for myself, my children and my mum. I also want to support the less fortunate children by giving them a vision and then helping them to work towards it.
In the next three years, I want to be part of the core management team of My Gambia. I also hope to have a production house, which I will manage in my spare time. I see myself as a super successful woman handling many things simultaneously.
I would also like to challenge my limits, conquer my fears, boost my self-esteem, and become the best version of myself for my mum, my two awesome bosses, my husband and my children.
Oprah Winfrey has always been my role model. She has proved that looks don't define your greatness in life, but your drive and willingness to reach your goal that matters. I love her quote, which says, "Everybody has a calling. And your real job in life is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you were meant to be and to begin to honour that in the best way possible for yourself.˝
I am grateful to those who are in my life today. I am also thankful to those who were once in my life and taught me invaluable lessons. I don't have a place in my life for toxic people, and I welcome those with a positive outlook on life.
At My Gambia, I will continue to be on the team, bringing you travel content about Africa. You will always find me here, come rain or shine.