Marian Pleasant Kargbo
Summary: Marian Pleasant Kargbo is a young Sierra Leonean who is the CEO and Founder of Pleasant Children’s Foundation, focusing on providing education and resources for children, especially vulnerable children whose parents cannot send them to school due to financial constraints and children who have been sexually abused, forced into early marriage or raped. Despite the hostility greeting some of her stances, Kargbo resolves to strengthen young people, particularly girls.
Profile: Marian Pleasant Kargbo is the CEO and founder of the Pleasant Children’s Foundation, seeking to improve the welfare of vulnerable children in western rural Sierra Leone and elsewhere. She is a vibrant voice in raising awareness to the dangers of teenage pregnancy and illiteracy—helping restore the dignity of girls and children. Through her Foundation, she has been providing scholarship opportunities for children who want to continue their education.
“We realize the need for promoting continuous learning and children’s empowerment strategies, especially coming to the aid of the most vulnerable people,” she says. “The Pleasant Children’s Foundation caters for children whose parents cannot send them to school due to financial constraints and children who have been sexually abused, forced into early marriage or raped.”
Kargbo has undergone serious threats in the course of her work: “One major challenge is getting people to work with you especially when they know the money is not readily available to do the work or even to pay them,” she says. “Also, the aspect of fund raising to send these kids to school has been very challenging. Lastly, seeing some of these kids, especially the girls getting pregnant and the boys dropping out of school to go and ride “okada” (motor bikes) is so frustrating especially when you reflect on the pains that you went through to get the funds.”
One of the most annoying threats is that in the course of raising funds, “people will want to request from you sex in exchange for their support” she commented.
Though these threats pose significant challenges to her work, she is still infused with the desire to see a society where every child has access to quality education and she continues her work unabated.
During the Ebola outbreak, Kargbo donated food, clothing, and toiletries worth millions of Leones.
Kargbo also fights for gender parity and against gender-based violence even as
her views on gender differences certainly run against long-standing traditions. She notes that in Sierra Leone “work is being left in the hands of the girls; we cook, launder, take care of our younger siblings, and even wash the dishes whilst our brothers are on the field playing football. . . . Please let [men] work, let them wash the dishes, clean the house, cook, launder, etc. They won’t die.”
Despite the hostility greeting some of her stances, Kargbo resolves to strengthen young people, particularly girls: “Give us the platform and see if we cannot serve well. We are passionate, we are strong, we know the issues affecting us and so we want to deal with them for ourselves. . . . If we are to see a better Africa, we need to set our priorities right and experience the change that we want to see.”
Kargbo holds a degree in Political Science from Fourah Bay College-University of Sierra Leone and is presently studying law there. A very strong social and political student activist, Kargbo is currently the substantive Minister of Education, Fourah Bay College Students’ Union Government.
In 2016, Kargbo led the “Girls Should Be Girls and Not Mothers” campaign in the Western Area Rural District. She has also represented Sierra Leone at the Gender is My Agenda Summit in Niamey, Niger; at the Family Planning Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and at the Youth and Climate Change Summit, also in Niamey.
She has won many national awards and accolades, including being named one of the 50 most influential Sierra Leonean Women in 2020.