We are very proud to introduce our first Future Star Balkiss Ben Gaga. She is a very active young woman who started her social activities at a young age. Last year, she went to help building a school in a deprived Kenian village, but we will let her talk about it. To follow Balkiss and read about her activities, please visit her blog My Little Dream
I am Balkiss Ben Gaga and I am 17 years old. I study in the 3rd secondary year with major in experimental Sciences at Rue de Russie High School. I am a member of the Cinema Club in my high school and in the library where I enjoy debating about life, happiness, differences, peace and youthfulness.
I started my social activities since I was 14 years old. I ran my first action in my school Abderazek Chraibi where I made an official request to change the restrooms and some regulations. It was the very first petition I ever wrote, through it, I made my first contacts and experienced collecting signatures and convincing my colleagues to support this cause. My second social action was during the electoral campaign. It was a very enriching experience. I learnt so many things by making direct contact with people from different social backgrounds. And thus, I knew that political life is so important, for it’s our only hope to change.
During the year 2010-2011, I took part in the workshops of the NGO « Girls for Change » which aims to teach girls how to reach their goals. This was one of the best experience I ever had. During the first year, « Girls for Change » offered me a mentoring program composed of 4 workshops. One of them is absolutely unforgettable , it’s «rules of a conversation». I discovered that I am very good at listening to people and engaging them with me while I talk. A gift that the workshop helped me develop and enhance. During the next year, and as an evaluation task, the NGO asked us to fix a goal and reach it. We were asked to work in groups and I was in a group of 5 girls. As a cause of our next action, I suggested that we should do something about verbal sexual harassment, and I had this idea of launching an action called “okhtek” (your sister in Arabic) to talk about it. I was extremely happy to know that my colleagues and mentors liked my suggestion and chose it to be implemented. So we launched it, and it was very successful. I played a big role in this action, I talked to many students and tried to raise their awareness about verbal sexual harassment mainly by giving them an opportunity to discuss it. During that same year, we also started an action with « S.O.S Mannouba ». We were collecting funds for the orphans of this village. It was another exciting experience so different from the others but still for a very noble cause.
The sponsors of “Girls for Change” appreciated our action “okhtek”. Therefore, they chose us to take part in the big volunteering action in Kenya. This one consisted on contributing to the construction of a school in a poor village there.
It was another enriching experience full of valuable life lessons. I experienced the daily life of Kenian women, I helped them in some of their daily duties. I watched them fight every single day, in some very hard conditions, to survive and bring up their children all by themselves, while men turn a blind eye to their suffering. This made me realize how important volunteering actions can be. They contributed to the positive social change of this village by raising awareness about hygiene and girls education. I had many chats with people there. We exchanged information about our countries, our habits and so many other things. I told them about Tunisia, about our revolution and our expectations as young citizens. I was fully aware that, while being there, I am the representative of all the Tunisian girls and that I came here to help the young girls leave ignorance and make their first steps in the path of knowledge and public spirit.
And since that time, I couldn’t rest anymore without having a goal that brings joy and help to any person in the world. This may seem philosophical but hearing someone say « I hope that one day, I will be like you » or see joy and hope in their eyes gives me such a strength, courage and determination to continue this path.
Once back in Tunisia, I created my own blog where I talk about my daily life. It is my way to show that I am an ordinary and simple young girl, who loves to share happiness and joy. This year, we organized an action for children who had cancer mentored by my English teacher. It was accompanied with a fundraising event that we organized in the front of some supermarkets. There, we convinced people to participate in our project by donating gifts for children. Today, I am working on my project about differences (it is all I can say for now) and have lots of other ideas and projects to implement. My life is not unique but I have a lot of love to give and I will do it for sure. I try to have a practical path defined for me rather than a theoretical one and to grab every occasion that I could find to be an active person. By being so, I could die in peace.