BY: Jamil Khan
JOHANNESBURG – There is no instinct as strong as the inborn need we all have to find purpose. For some it is revealed in divine ways when they’re least expecting it, but for most it is only realized through hard work and experimentation. It is exactly this work and experimentation that led 20 year-old Fatoumata Diaby to her true love, fashion.
Having been diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia (a disease close to UCOF’s mission) as a child, her mother tried to keep her contained in order to prevent any complications with the condition. Fatoumata, however, had other ideas and was not willing to succumb to the condition. Her love for art saw her exposed to the art of dance, writing, designing, sewing, hairstyling and make-up.
She credits a subscription to Seventeen Magazine with nurturing her love for fashion and sparking the interest in getting involved in the industry. Her inquisitive mind would dissect pictorials and photo shoots to determine who the final product came to be formed through all the individual parts.
While attending a UCOF seminar explaining exactly what goes on behind the scenes of fashion her interest grew even more. The UCOF STAND program is a one of kind free program for under-resourced New York youth aspiring to build a career in fashion. The program offers them to start their training while still in school in the field of their choice including design, PR & marketing, fashion merchandising, production, styling, hair and make-up.
“Just to get the chance to sit and listen to all these wise people was such a blessing and gave me a huge boost of confidence. To get the chance to meet great people already means so much but to win achiever of the year means that I have accomplished things I never thought I could it means that I pushed myself above my limits,” she says about her experience.
Fatoumata is currently in the running to becoming UCOF’s Achiever of the Year for 2014 and although she is up against stiff competition we have no doubt that her passion and work ethic will take her beyond the limits even she has set for herself.
The achiever of the year will be chosen on February 28th, and this year’s intern will carry on the title from last year’s achiever Sade Solomon who has done great things during her time as top intern.
Jamil Khan is a Psychology graduate from Stellenbosch University with a keen interest in fashion, social upliftment and research. He is a United Colors Of Fashion press intern and lifestyle writer for The New Age Newspaper, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.