20 Mar 2024

Celebrating amazing women with YMCA- Heart of England

zeinab ymca.jpg

Written by YMCA- Heart of England

In honour of International Women’s Day, YMCA – Heart of England would like to celebrate some of the amazing women that are contributing to make our company what it is today. For our first piece of this series, we have interviewed Zeinab Bamba (pictured), YMCA resident and one of the young people attending the Leadership Programmed hosted in our Coventry branch.

During our conversation, Zeinab decided to let us in into her journey within the programme, her dreams and aspirations, and her role as a woman within our community.


  • Can you share a bit about yourself and your background? What motivated you to participate in this leadership program?

My name is Zeinab Bamba, I was born in Coventry and my ethnicity is Ivorian. I have always enjoyed the feeling of girlhood and learning how to be a woman. I’ve learnt how to be strong, speak up and target my goals, and I believe that these attributes are what makes me a woman, contrary to popular belief. One thing that motivated me to be on the leadership program was having the opportunity to show my passion and ideas and confidently portray my leadership skills.


  • How would you describe your leadership journey so far? Were there specific experiences or individuals that inspired you to take on a leadership role?

I would describe my journey in the program so far as enlightening. I’ve learnt so many things that I didn’t know before, and I was also able to see different perspectives from my group of fellow participants, which I can confidently say I will use in the future. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet a lot of different people who share the same interests as me and others who have come in to speak with us and share their knowledge of what we can take on board too. PYF (Positive Youth Foundation) inspired me to take a leadership role and I don’t regret it, by taking the step to go out of my comfort zone has helped me become a better version of myself.


  • Can you tell us about the arts exhibition project you are currently working on? What inspired the choice of an arts exhibition as your project?

The exhibition we are currently working on is a space where people can feel comfortable and at home. Me and my group have been working on putting together a bunch of ideas and then creating it into something that we can share with others who can relate. Something that inspired an arts exhibition as our project was the obvious fact that me and my group are extremely creative young people. We thought it would be best to use our creative minds and portray them in an artistic way.


  • Are there specific goals you aim to achieve through this project?

The goals that I want and aim to achieve through this project is to learn as many things as possible that I can take away with me for future endeavours. I believe that this leadership program shares a lot of key knowledge that I can use in my future career. Another thing that I would like to achieve is to have a successful exhibition experience with my group. since we’ve all worked so hard and have all been very committed. 


  • Have you encountered any challenges while working on the project, and how did you overcome them? What valuable lessons have you learned through your involvement in the leadership program and the exhibition project?

I have encountered challenges during the program, such as having my photos taken and being around cameras, but I have tried to overcome this by working on my self-confidence and becoming more secure of myself. Seeing the other beautiful women on my sessions look strong within themselves and realising that I’m also strong and beautiful. A valuable lesson that I’ve learnt through my involvement in the leadership program and the exhibition project is that it takes a lot of courage and effort to plan something so big. Having my group around has helped me learn that teamwork makes things 10 times better even when you think you don’t need it.


  • How has collaboration and teamwork played a role in your project? Can you share any memorable moments or positive experiences from working with your fellow participants?

Collaboration and teamwork have had a positive impact on my role within the project because, as previously mentioned, I’ve learnt a lot of new things from the people on my project and I’ve also been able to create bonds which have therefore helped me feel more comfortable. A positive experience that I have shared with my fellow participants is having the opportunity to meet each and every one of them and realise how different but similar we all are.


  • In what ways do you feel you've grown personally as a leader during this program? Looking forward, what are your plans or aspirations for continued leadership and community involvement?

I feel like I’ve grown as a leader during the leadership program, because I have learnt how to be more confident and speak up, I’ve met new people a created strong bond and I’ve also been able to overcome some of the issues that I would have had prior to being on the program. My plans and aspirations for continued leadership and community involvement is to share what I’ve learnt with others and use my advanced knowledge/ abilities to achieve my future career.


  • How do you think Women's Day is an opportunity to celebrate and recognize the achievements of women? Are there specific women or role models who have inspired you, especially in the context of Women's Day?

I think that International Women’s Day is a great way to celebrate/ recognise a woman’s achievements because we aren’t always noticed and in those cases some woman may start to lose motivation. Therefore, having an international day to celebrate is a good opportunity to really show recognition. I believe that women should be appreciated every day for how hard working we are but having a day to ourselves is an even better way to shed light to some issues that are important to women. A woman that has inspired me is my mother, and seeing how strong she is with everything she does, she has taught me to not care about what other people think of me and to peruse what I want. Having a role model like my mother created character development and made me stronger. I’m glad she taught me the things she did within her culture and how she grew up, because I have experienced many things in life, but I have been able to easily combat them by using my mother’s advice, and for that I feel inspired by her and appreciate her strength.”


Zeinab is one of the amazing women that are helping us build a new and better YMCA – Heart of England for all our residents, workers, and stakeholders. If you would like to support us in what we do, visit our donation webpage here.

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