Breaking barriers through sign language interpretation: Fatu’s journey

As a sign language interpreter, Fatu has not only empowered individuals with hearing impairments but has also fostered a more inclusive society.

Meet Fatu Kamara, a trailblazing sign language interpreter in Sierra Leone. Despite being one of only 4 professional interpreters in the country, and the sole female among them, Fatu has dedicated her career to bridging the communication gap for individuals with hearing impairments. Through her remarkable work, she has facilitated inclusive participation in various settings, including the police force, international organisations, and Plan International’s She Leads project.

Fatu’s journey

Fatu’s journey with sign language began at a young age. Growing up with deaf parents and an uncle who is also deaf, she had to learn how to communicate through sign language. Her uncle, who used to pick her up from school, taught her the intricacies of sign language and how to connect with the deaf community. These experiences honed Fatu’s communication skills as she accompanied her uncle on work trips.

Today, Fatu stands as one of the few professional sign language interpreters in Sierra Leone, breaking barriers and defying gender norms. Working as a police officer, she serves as an interpreter, enabling deaf individuals to communicate with fellow officers and in courtrooms. Additionally, she has supported international organisations like Plan International, UNFPA, and UNDP for over 15 years, ensuring the active participation of those with hearing impairments in various activities and advocacy initiatives.

Contributing to She Leads

Fatu in her role as a sign language interpreter at Girls in ICT event
Fatu in her role as a sign language interpreter at Girls in ICT event.

Fatu’s commitment to inclusion led her to join Plan International Sierra Leone’s She Leads project. During the recent Girls in ICT event, Fatu provided live translations of speeches and training sessions, making the event accessible for all. The event, themed “Digital Skills for Life”, aimed to empower girls and young women to explore careers in ICT. Through the tech for inclusion workshop, participants learned about the importance of inclusive technology and how it can bridge the digital divide. Fatu’s invaluable support enabled young women with hearing impairments to fully engage and participate in the discussions.

Power of inclusion

Victoria Libby, She Leads Project Manager, emphasises the significance of inclusiveness in the project: “When we include persons with disabilities, we are actually closing the gap. It means we are including every girl and young woman, regardless of their location, education level, or physical abilities. Inclusiveness is paramount to the She Leads project.”

Fatu interpreting during a workshop session
Fatu interpreting during a workshop session.

Driven by her passion to help both the deaf and the hearing, Fatu believes that communication barriers affect everyone. She recognises that inclusive communication is essential for building understanding and connections between individuals with and without hearing impairments. Fatu Kamara’s extraordinary journey as a sign language interpreter has not only empowered individuals with hearing impairments but has also fostered a more inclusive society. Her unwavering commitment to breaking communication barriers has made a profound impact in various settings, including the police force and international organisations. Fatu’s invaluable contributions to the She Leads project exemplify the power of inclusivity and the transformative role of sign language interpretation.