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At Tahirih’s 2nd Annual Orange County Gala, Client Ambassador Aicha Abdoulaye Mahamane stood in front of the crowd to share not only her journey to justice, but the leaps and bounds she’s taken in the year since she initially told her story in California.

“When I was younger, I was very uncertain about my future. Growing up in a family of 30 in Niger, Africa, I knew that it may be chaotic, but I had no idea what was in store for me. Soon, I found myself as a child bride, married to an awful man who had several other wives. When I finally escaped, I then spent years and years of my life being moved from one abusive situation to the next, in Africa and then in the U.S. Domestic violence. Sexual violence. By men and by women. Alone and scared. I didn’t want that kind of life.”

No matter what she was going through, Aicha had the will to be free and to help other women who were trapped like her find their own freedom, but she didn’t quite know the way. Enter Tahirih. Tahirih provided the guidance and access to basic services to help Aicha reach her full potential and empower herself. She set personal goals, including living independently, giving her son the best life and education possible, and becoming an advocate to inspire women and girls to keep their fire strong and find their way to a better life.

“I’m excited to share with you that my family is now living independently in San Jose, California. My son is happy and healthy and just started a new school year. I recently spoke at the University of Southern California on the importance of taking on pro bono legal cases, at the Stanford School of Medicine on the value of pro bono medical support, and even to a girl scout troupe in San Jose on knowing and accepting yourself for who you are! I plan to do a lot more speaking in the months to come to inspire women and girls to dream big and never give up – to boost their WILL and find their WAY.”

Now, Aicha has a fire inside her that burns brighter and stronger than ever before. It shines a path in front of her that she’s determined to follow. Where there is a will, there is certainly a way. Before saying farewell, Aicha urged the crowd not to underestimate the power they have to change the life of women like her. And to remember that she is now fighting alongside them.