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This story was written by an anonymous contributor from BURKINA FASO.

Seven years ago, when I was not yet 16 years old, I went to a boarding school in a different country for the first time in my life. I am from Burkina Faso but would be studying in Paris, France. I was excited about the experience and saw it as an opportunity to make new friends. But when I got there, things took a different twist.

I was given a room to share with three other girls. We did not get along because we did not view things in the same way. I have always been an authentic type of person – I always say what I believe in and what I think. Frankness, I believe, is a necessary quality in the world we live in today.

I have always been an authentic type of person – I always say what I believe in and what I think.

One night whilst sleeping, I felt like I had been soaked with water. I woke up in pain and saw that my clothes were sodden. There was nail polish all over my hands and clothes. It felt like a nightmare, and from the second I had discovered what had happened I knew who the perpetrators were.

I went out of my room to inform the house assistant about what these girls had done to me. But all she said was, ‘Get back to bed, it’s late. We will try to solve this issue tomorrow morning.’ Being someone of great faith, I went back to bed after changing my bed sheets and putting on dry clothes. For the rest of that night I was not able to close my eyes for a second. I was traumatized. I felt alone.

The next day the assistant informed the house chief about the event and they brought the girls together. They tried to deny what they did, but the proof was clear. The school director got involved and the girls’ parents were called. They were suspended from school for three days and when they returned they were punished with manual tasks.

For the rest of that year they did what was best for them, which was staying out of my way. From that day, every individual who tried to shame me was shamed in return because I had gained more confidence and could defend myself when I believed something was not right.

Racism does exist and it is a very dangerous issue in our societies. I am sharing my story because I know that all around the world there are thousands, even millions, of people who are bullied because of their origins. I was one of them but I survived, and I want to say: even though some people may not like you, it should never keep you from loving yourself.

This story was part of Safety First for Girls (SAFIGIs) #SharingNotShaming campaign.

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