Born in Afar region, Fatuma was a child who always loved to help others do their work. She moved to Addis Ababa to finish her high school education, then joined Care Ethiopia, but she was not happy at all that the projects she was implementing did not address what she viewed as the primary challenge for Afar society. Which led her to start her own project Rohi Weddu.
As a woman born and raised in Afar community, she knew at first hand the problems that Afar girls and women face as a result of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) - during the mutilation, at the start of the menstrual cycle, and when giving birth; she wanted to become an activist to eradicate FGM.
Fatuma began her campaign at the regional level, persuading regional authorities and regional religious leaders, including the all-male Islamic council, to join her effort to end the practice of FGM. In 8 out of the 16 woredas in which her organization work, as a result of her campaign, official declarations prohibiting FGM were approved and publicized.
She also wanted girls to be educated and began to focus her activism to getting them to school, working to persuade parents that sending their daughter to school benefited both the girls themselves and the community.
As a young Afar woman trying to bring change to a tradition-bound society, Fatuma faced inordinate challenges, from authorities to religious leaders accusing her of defying the rules of Islam, because she was a woman. “Women and girls have to be educated and self-sufficient. Education changes not only the individual, but also the community as a whole. Don’t give up easily; don’t let your emotions overwhelm your purpose or obstacles divert you from your chosen path. Live your life with integrity and elegance.”