Sarifa Alonto Younes: ‘love your obstacles’

For this week’s column, I have decided to do a book review of an outstanding woman leader — Marawi-born Muslim Sarifa Alonto Younes’ book titled Love Your Obstacles.

Sarifa wrote this inspiring book which was published in 2019.

Coming from humble beginnings, Dr. Sarifa, through hard work and a resilient spirit, was able to move up from poverty through education. As an orphaned young girl at the age of 10 after her mother’s death, Sarifa worked hard to get a scholarship to pursue her studies.

Because of her indomitable and can-do spirit, she was able to rise up and achieve all the dreams she wanted for herself. She was recently awarded the Woman Changing the World Award and the Woman in Education Award held in London. These awards are a manifestation that if one works hard enough you will be rewarded for your efforts.

Sarifa said, “I received both awards due to my life’s work.”

Her book, Love Your Obstacles, was published in 2019 and highlights how one can grow and overcome difficulties by turning these challenges into opportunities. She has established a Children’s Child Care Center with Preschool and Kinder programs. Located in Australia, her center allows migrants to gain work experience in an Australian setting.

In 2018, she founded the International Academy of Marawi which offers quality education to students from Prep to Grade 12. To date, she has changed the lives of over 100 orphans, 19 of whom have graduated from college. Humble and unassuming, Dr. Sarifa is a serial entrepreneur, best-selling author, motivational speaker and philanthropist. Her advocacies on education, woman empowerment and leadership have influenced many women for which she was awarded the Exceptional Woman of Excellence Award by the World Economic Forum in 2019 in London.

Dr. Sarifa is humbled by all the multiple awards she has received. She shares, “I am encouraging those voices who have been silenced all these years to speak up — specially from those under-represented communities — and to share your story with the world. There are a lot of people out there who need to hear your story — stories that would resonate and change lives. Changing a life will create ripple effects that can change a community, the nation and the world.”