05/01/2013 11:11 am ET Updated Jul 01, 2013

How GirlFoward Helped Me Stand Out and Speak Out

I was born in the beautiful city of Monrovia, Liberia. In my earliest memories as a child, the city was very peaceful. But then war broke out, and we eventually lost everything we had: peace, happiness, family members, communication, and our home. One of the things I admire during this time was that my sister remained strong. She looked after me and made sure I was never hungry. Her character then and now inspires me to be strong and intelligent like her.

My family left Liberia to live in a refugee camp in Sierra Leone, where we had more peace. I attended school and worked hard to obtain education there for eight years. While in the camp, an organization known as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offered a resettlement program, which provided my sister and me with the opportunity to come to the United States, though it was painful to leave my mother and family members behind.

Living in the United States improved my life but I still had challenges. I started school in 2009. Being new to school, I experienced some communication barriers because of my accent and other things. However, I was determined to succeed and not allow any barriers to discourage me from reaching my goal of obtaining good education and becoming a nurse.

As a young girl, I experienced many things that made me a stronger and better person. Because of these experiences, I have decided to work in the medical field. I want to give back to society and help those in need. Watching my uncle provide treatment and food to the poor inspired me to also help to make a change. Attending college will help me develop the skills and knowledge I need to do so. If given the opportunity, I know that I will work hard and persevere throughout the rest of my life.

GirlForward doesn't just help me as a student, but as a sister. They want me to get a better future and a better life, because they know that we are the future leaders of tomorrow. GirlForward is about helping girls to be able to stand out and speak out.

-- Rosetta Curtis

Rosetta, 18, was born in Liberia but fled to Sierra Leone as a young girl when war began in her home country. She lived in a refugee camp for eight years until she and her sister received resettlement in the United States. She lives in Chicago and is in her senior year of high school. Rosetta began participating in GirlForward's Safe Spaces Project in 2012. GirlForward is a non-profit organization in Chicago dedicated to empowering refugee girls who have been resettled in the city from war-torn countries around the world. Rosetta wrote the following as part of "Girls Like Us," a collection of stories and poems by the girls of GirlForward.

Support GirlForward by making a donation through our Raise For Women Challenge fundraising page. Anyone who makes a donation of $20 or more will receive a copy of Girls Like Us. For more information about GirlForward, please visit our web site ( or check us out on Facebook.