Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Opeyemi Wins Yale Young Scholars Scholarship!

Here's probably one of the most heartwarming and endearing stories I have been involved in. Thinking about it still gives me goose bumps.
A friend of mine Chidi Arole (thank you!) sent me a link for a program organized by Yale for young Africans since she knew we at Apinke Girls Initiative, work with young girls.
I originally thought what were the odds but relied on the voice within & introduced it to 2 of our girls. The application was tasking considering our girls live in an under-resourced community, Ijegun with little to no internet access and simple information/documents needed were not readily available &/or efforts to get them frustrating at every turn.
With 1 essay and 2 short answer questions, navigating the application was quite challenging. (It's complicated is all I can say).
Anyway, at one point I thought this may not work but was resolute and encouraged by the determination & doggedness of one of girls especially.
With a 6% acceptance rate & thousands of applications to be considered, it was a slim possibility but we completed the process.
Then one fine morning, I opened my email to the most amazing news that stunned me....Opeyemi had been accepted for the program & Favour was on the waiting list. With tears of joy streaming down my face I sent a message to Aramide, my partner in crime, to our mentors & called Opeyemi.
It would be her 1st trip ever out of Ijegun, 1st trip on a plane, 1st trip outside of Nigeria....Opeyemi would be on her way for a week long leadership program in Kenya. She"d be one of 2 Nigerians, exposed to & surrounded by 299 other students from other African countries, Yale Students & Faculty in a beautiful campus setting in beautiful Kenya..My heart was full.
I'd like to say it was smooth sailing following that but of course the Naija context always has a way of a robbing you the wrong way but we persevered. From, applying for available travel grant, to her passport, to a indeed was a process.
However, I will not belabor the point because our eyes stayed on the price and by God's grace..Opeyemi attended the Yale Young African Schlolars program!!!
I could go on and on but I'd let the pictures speak for themselves. So proud of Opeyemi. O my! ..o the possibilities when we sacrifice a little to be fully present in the lives of others Grateful for the opportunity, grateful for mentors, grateful for Omotola, Aramide, her Husband..Dr. O!!, Dionne & Ope's Mom that all made this possible. Grateful to YYSP for the amazing opportunity.
I have cried out of frustration and I have cried out of joy through this process & I'm Super grateful for the journey & God's grace that brought us here.

Stories Written By Bimbo Adegbite- the Initiator of the opportunity given to Opeyemi Adeyemo

Some Young Entrepreneurs Win Start-Up Capital!

At the onset of the training we had promised that the best three trainees would be awarded start-up funds to help them kick start some small scale business. The cash presentation held three days later in our office at Ijegun.
Sophie Okojie came 1st, Esther Ololude 2nd and Blessing  Chukwu 3rd. While these got cash prices, others were also encouraged to make products and advertise for sale.
I couldn’t make it to the event but our community volunteer, my friend and secondary schoolmate Feyikemi Job-Akinremi made the presentation on my behalf.
Interestingly, the girls have started getting orders. In the words of Blessing Chukwu, “Now I don’t have to bother my parents for every little thing. Now, I have a skill with which to earn money when I get to the university. I am empowered now and I am so grateful.”
Its such a joy to know that both the awardee and every other girl that participated in the training have already started to earn money from the sales of their products- Ankara wristbands, Caps, Fascinators, Earrings, Necklace and many more. I am super-excited! This is so inspiring; so encouraging too!

More Beautiful Products From Our Young Entrepreneurs

There is perhaps no better way to spend the holidays than to invest it in getting empowered with life skills that guarantees economic independence. No doubt, the last summer break now marks an indelible milestone in the journey, not only for members of Girls Arise Initiative but also for some of their friends in Ijegun community and its environs. 

It was indeed encouraging to see some of these girls seize the opportunity of the free summer skill acquisition program to learn from our Volunteer trainers.  

Rather than roam the streets aimlessly or sit at home idle and vulnerable, they chose to get empowered.

It is so incredible how innovative and creative they have been. It is exciting to see them learn so fast and so passionately. Now, I see new products like auto-gele, colourful fascinators, wall-flowers etc. 

 The truth of the matter is that some of them are now selling and making money to support themselves and take some burden off their parents/guardians. Of a truth, an empowered girl is an asset to herself, her family and her community.   

Hurray! Here Comes Our Beautiful Products!

Within the space of 5 weeks, the girls had gained mastery in making beads, fascinators, caps, flower-verse, foot-mats, wristbands, brooch and much more. They wouldn’t let me be- they needed money to make products towards their graduation ceremony.
And so we had to make fund available. It was small money but it was so amazing to see how well they utilized it. The tables were filled with beautiful items.
The graduation ceremony was splendid. It held during our monthly mentoring session and had in attendance over 200 youths and 20 adults. Some of the widows also came to felicitate with their graduating daughters. Although some of the girls would not pull through because they didn’t meet up with our criteria, 16 out of the 22 finally graduated on 13th July and were all awarded certificates.
The best three also got start up funds to begin their own businesses.
Of course we sold some of the items at the event. But we still have many more to sell and we need buyers. Proceeds from the sales will be turned over to empower more girls as entrepreneurs.
Wow! It can only get better!

Monday, 12 August 2019

Summer Skill Acquisition Program

 In strengthening the capacity of of our girls we thought it best to engage them profitably during the summer break. 

Interestingly, the young school leavers we trained earlier (June) are now the trainers. They are training school girls and teenagers in beads making, caps, fascinators and rag mat.

The first day we had over 50 girls in attendance. They came very eager to learn; they have also demonstrated strong determination to acquire tyw skills and to put to use all they learn. 

We are excited too! Our girls truly have talents; they are great entrepreneurs in the making!

Sunday, 21 July 2019

From Fascinators To Beads

Another vocation that caught our fancy was beads-making. And not only did they make necklace, they also make earring, wrist-watch and bangles from beads as we provided cash for materials.
Of course it didn’t take long before they gained mastery here. Some even went as far as using Ankara fabrics to make beads necklace, earrings and others.

From Rag-Mats to Fascinators & Caps

By the second week of training, the  girls had moved on to learning how to make head-bands, caps and fascinators. Interestingly, this is a trending innovation and is often used at worship centers, be it churches, mosques and everywhere.
 Expectedly, there is a ready market with potential clients waiting to buy.

And so, Aunty Mary from Ejigbo drilled the girls, taking them through the process of making fascinators, caps and head-bands which can readily be sold. Of course they were super excited to learn and practice their hands at making these.

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