Hannah-Grace was always different. She was peculiar. She wasn't like your normal story character, do you know why? Because she was an African outcast. It was rumoured in her village that her mother was a slut and her father a thief. She didn't have anything good to hold onto but she chose to be different and move past her parents vile reputation and become the best of it. In Africa, children like her were always looked down upon because society believed she had nothing to offer. Going to school was worse because she was picked on by not only her peers but her teachers also, all except one. Mrs Ibitunde. An African woman from the well known Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. She saw a girl with lots of potential and wasn't afraid to let others know how much that child was worth. Hannah felt love for the first time the day Mrs Ibitunde came to her defence after being welcomed into their class as their new economics teacher. The other students had mocked her when a question was asked in class and she answered correctly before the teacher could affirm her answer. She was expecting Mrs Ibitunde to be like the other teachers and mock her as well, rather she scolded the students and told them she was correct and gave a rule that anyone caught mocking any student in her class would be punished. That was when she knew Mrs Ibitunde was different from the other teachers. She smiled at the considerate woman before her. That was how there bond grew, strengthening the little girl. One day as they walked back home together as they had begun doing after that incident, Mrs Ibitunde asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she happily replied that she wanted to be an Economist. That she wanted to be like Mrs Ngozi Okoji-Iweala. The greatest economist Nigeria had had. Mrs Ibitunde smiled at her enthusiastic answer and told her about a university far from Africa. The great University of Amsterdam. Hannah smiled and said she couldn't go because her parents barely even give her money to add to what she makes from hawking water on the streets for schooling. Mrs Ibitunde smiled and explained that she could go if she got a scholarship. That was how plans began to be put in place and studying was set into a different pace. Hannah wanted to prove to everyone and herself that she wasn't a victim as the world looked upon her as. She was bigger than that. Her new found confidence put a step in her stride and a constant smile in her face which confused not only her peers and teachers who picked on her but also everyone in their community who looked down upon her because of who her parents were. The day of the scholarship exam came sooner than she expected and she felt nervous despite the constant words of encouragement Mrs Ibitunde whispered to her as they journeyed to the scholarship center where she would write the exam. She did her best as she promised herself she would, and give it her everything. Few weeks after the exam Mrs Ibitunde called her to her office and gave her the bad news. She wasn't chosen because she was African and she was from a rural community which no one recognised. She was devastated. She cried for days but then suddenly came out of that despair and told Mrs Ibitunde that she wanted to retake the exam. Luckily for her , these scholarship exams came four times a year. She had partaken in the first one, she studied harder and worked more to raise the money for the registration. Taking the exam for the second time she prayed for good news this time. Yet to her disappointment, she still didn't make it because of a controversy about her skin colour and her background. Not losing hope she wrote the third time and still wasn't listed. Mrs Ibitunde never having seen that kind of determination in a child mistreated and looked down upon so much. A child born after the 2020 pandemic. Even in a country still suffering from the economic meltdown due to the pandemic,Hannah worked hard to be exceptional. Mrs Ibitunde wrote to the university of Amsterdam as an alumni requesting sponsorship for Hannah's education. Hannah was just coming back from the market after a stressful day of selling water when she sites Mrs Ibitunde and ran to welcome her. Her joy knew no bounds, as Mrs Ibitunde hands her the letter she had lost hope of seeing. Mrs Ibitunde explained to her how the letter came about and encouraged her to chase her dreams. It's been ten years since that day, and she couldn't help but smile as she remembered her journey. Looking at her children play with her husband she remembered why she changed her name to hope, because that was what brought her through. HOPE.
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