Ramatou Soumare is an IU junior majoring in international law and global institutions. While at IU, Soumare learned the importance of being involved in her community and giving back. She uses her voice to fight for improvement of the livelihood and well-being of those around her.
“We’re still facing systemic racism, violation of women and children’s rights, police brutality, environmental issues and so much more,” Soumare said. “I want to be able to use my voice effectively to fight for social justice for all.”
Soumare is the co-president of the IU NAACP chapter, and a student ambassador for the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. She got involved with the NAACP spontaneously freshman year, and after realizing the effect she could have on the Bloomington community, Soumare decided to push her involvement.
As an ambassador for the Hamilton Lugar School, she is able to connect with many different individuals and professionals. It also allows her to speak on experiences she’s had as a student, giving incoming students a better understanding of college life and her studies. Soumare said she is hoping to connect more students from her high school in Indianapolis to IU.
Outside of school, Soumare is a board member for the nonprofit organization, Lend a Hand Relief. The organization’s mission is to provide resources such as school supplies, toiletries and other necessities to children in West Africa. Soumare said one of their current projects focused on funding a COVID-19 relief project to distribute masks, hygiene products, rice and oil to families in Guinea.
“I spent four years of my life in Guinea when I was younger and was exposed to many other kids in my school who didn’t have many of the same privileges as me. And when I came to America, I was well aware of my privilege,” Soumare said. “I have made it my goal to give back to the children in Guineas as well as children here in the U.S. to give them the opportunities they deserve to improve their livelihoods and well-being.”
During her free time, Soumare enjoys spending time with friends and volunteering. She volunteers at places such as the Shalom Community Center in Bloomington and once a month, Soumare and friends cook and distribute meals to the homeless community in downtown Indianapolis.
Growing up, Soumare always knew that she was different from her peers because of her religion and African heritage. Soumare said when she came to America, her love for her culture did not change.
She does her best to keep up with current events in West Africa through speaking the languages, listening to the music and continuing to enjoy Guinean foods with her family.
“My Guinean heritage makes me who I am, and has allowed me the opportunity to understand the world from a different perspective and be more open-minded,” Soumare said. “My religion teaches me compassion, understanding and good character and gives me the tools to understand the world and why we are on it."
In the midst of instability and struggle in the world right now, Soumare holds on to a piece of advice that allows her to gain strength to continue her fight: It’s important to take care of yourself, so that you have the strength to take care of others.
She said this advice came from her aunt who reminded her she is human and it’s not selfish to want to take care of your mental, physical and emotional well-being.
Soumare said she is slowly learning to take care of her mental health so that she can continue to fight against injustices taking place in countries across Africa like Guinea, Nigeria, Cameroon and Eritrea.