…and if I can do this, you can too!
I wasn’t nervous when I first met Adeem Younis, the Chairman of Penny Appeal—I’d heard of the charity and everything because I was actually at one of their events with my family when we first met. What I didn’t know was that Penny Appeal is an international NGO working in over 30 countries, and that they’ve helped 20 million people in the last ten years.
I also didn’t have any idea, when I marched up to Adeem at Penny Appeal’s Great Muslim Panto, that he would hire me as the world’s first child-CEO of a charity—or as Adeem calls me, the “Kid Boss”—only a few weeks later.
I first went up to Adeem because I wanted to find out more about Penny Appeal’s work. The pantomime event made me feel kind of emotional. It was about an orphan called Haroon and I just thought, “That could be me.”
Sometimes, grown-ups act like kids don’t know anything. They think we don’t understand what poverty looks like, but I know that poverty looks like an orphan called Haroon in the Gambia, and it also looks like the kids down the road who come to school with no breakfast. I know that poverty affects children more than anyone, and I want to do something about it.
That’s why I went over to Adeem at the panto (much to my sister’s embarrassment — sorry, Malaika) and started telling him some of my thoughts and my ideas. I guess he liked them, because the next thing I know, I’m going up to Wakefield for an interview, and I’m the first ever child-CEO of Penny Appeal!
It’s been pretty crazy since that first day at the panto. It’s all so new being the “Kid Boss.” Meeting with Adeem and the rest of the team to talk about child poverty, learning about all Penny Appeal’s work, writing my (wo)manifesto, going to The Gambia to meet our amazing Gambian team and the orphans we help there, leading Senior Leadership Team strategy meetings, and last but not least, teaching the team how to make slime (because slime is my life).
Sometimes, it’s scary. How am I supposed to represent children’s voices? How can we actually, seriously end child poverty? How should I help direct this charity, and still go to school and do my homework and my gymnastics and everything? But you hardly ever see women and girls that look like me being CEO, and even if it’s scary, I think it’s our time! I’m glad that Adeem and Penny Appeal took a chance on me. I want to show other Muslim girls that if I can do this, you can too.
This goes out to the female Muslim bosses, the kids battling to be heard, and the girls with big ideas who get called bossy when you’re just trying to make a difference.
I used to get called bossy sometimes too, but guess what? Now I’m the “Kid Boss.”
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