In the midst of what has been a rough year, one woman has provided a bit of life. Dr. Fadji Zaouna Maina has made history as the first Nigerian scientist to work for NASA. Maina will work with the organization to help combat the world's water crisis.
“I pushed the boundaries, I made it possible and I made a whole country proud,” Maina said.
“The chances for a girl like me, born and raised in Zinder (Niger), to become a scientist at a well-known institution like NASA are almost zero.”
Growing up, Maina envisioned herself solving problems within her community. While she enjoyed having clean tap water in her home, many of her friends did not. As a result, many of her classmates spent time searching for clean water while she was able to pursue her education.
“People think that boys should go to school or go to work and the girls should find water and come back [to do] cooking and cleaning,” she explained.
"Girls’ education is one more problem that comes from climate change — I have seen that.”
Thanks to having clean water and an undeniable work ethic, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari refers to her as a source of "national pride" and a "role model" to others. In a position to create change, Maina sees an opportunity to allow more girls to pursue an educations like she has.
“I have a responsibility on my shoulders because I believe I need to show the face of my country,” she said.
“It’s like changing the image of Nigerians and changing the image of women generally.”
Photo: Getty Images