Tuesday, 9 April 2019

IWD 2019: Our Girls Are Becoming Leading Ladies!

Our girls are becoming leading ladies. I'm truly proud of them. To showcase their uncommon strength and ability, we decided to celebrate the IWD 2019 in grand style. Our theme was apt and catchy; Time is Now: Girls As Change Agents. Our campaign slogan was also smart and sweet:#SheCanLead
The first phase was with a Girls Summit featuring over 200 girls from 8 secondary schools in Ijegun, Ikotun, Lagos State. As it is in most underdeveloped communities ravaged by poverty and lack, many girls are vulnerable. There is hunger in the land; yes, there is acute hunger and lack of basic amenities. Here many are uninformed about their rights and the beautiful opportunities available to them. Here many girls battle with low self-esteem and easily fall prey to the chimes and caprices of devourers and opportunists
You can therefore imagine how excited they were when we invited

girls in Ijegun community to a special girls' summit. Yes, we had a swell time, with insightful and inspiring talk from my ever resourceful and diligent friend, Mrs Foluso Adedeji, a top management staff at Access Bank, Nigeria who challenged the girls to be focused and committed to pursuing a brilliant career and achieving greatness like Malala Al-Yousef. Miss Asubiaro Olayinka also captured the attention of the girls with her very practical and down-to-earth  lecture on adolescence and sex; touching on their sexual reproductive developmental changes and needs.
On my part, I gave an insightful talk on the need for our girls to stand tall and form a formidable team. I also challenged them to be the change ambassador that would lead their families out of poverty and backwardness as they maintain a life of integrity, study hard and acquire necessary life skills in order to lead successful life.
We also attended to numerous questions from the girls, bothering on issues relating to menstruation, sex, rape, protection from all forms of abuse and how to deal with peer pressure. The questions came in torrents and the answers were so practical and thrilling that the girls didn't want to go home again. Of course, they also entertained us with songs, choreography and drama.
The second phase of the Girls Summit held a week after in a public school- Ijeododo Senior Grammar School, with about 276 girls in attendance. They were equally thrilled with the life story of our guest speaker- Mrs. Seyi Ayesa, a Marketing Manager with Friesland Capina, one of the multinational beverage companies in Lagos, Nigeria.
It was an even more exciting session, especially with the support of the management and staff of the school.
Shout out to my dear Friend, Bim Adegbite, who I met on the World Pulse platform in 2016 and decided to partner with us by providing a mentorship program for the girls in our club. Bim Adegbite and her team of mentors on the Apinke Girls Initiative have since been very supportive in nurturing and encouraging the girls to be the best. Their immense contribution and donations towards the success of the program in highly appreciated.
Profound gratitude also goes to some local corporate organizations like- Rite Foods, Beloxxi Foods, Cadbury PLC for surprising us with surplus supply of snacks and beverages for the girls.
I also celebrate all our Staff and Volunteers that worked tirelessly to ensure that all went well. How about our sweet and bubbling young ladies at the Girls Arise Club who stood firm to coordinate and ensure the smooth running of the program. I appreciate you loads.
How exciting? There were assorted gifts to take away- Food, drink, water, gala, buscuits and of course sanitary pad for every girl.
Much more, our girls left with a renewed mindset; positive self-esteem, powerful self confidence and determination to be overcome all hurdles and to be game-changers!
One of our girls, Chiamaka Ezeigbo later captured her feeling of excitement and strength and wrote thus, "We are Priceless, We are Unique, We are Beautiful, We are Creative, We are Brave, We are Strong, We are Bold, We've got Passion, We are Girls, We Lead, We Arise to Stand, We are Unstoppable, We are Agents of Change".
Obviously, Chiamaka and other girls in the club are transformed and ready to transform their communities for the better.
I celebrate you girls! I’m so proud of the leading ladies you all are becoming You've got greatness! You've got what it takes to lead your world. You are stars in the making. You are the Amazons for the generation next.
Yes, you can! Yes, you will!

Saturday, 28 July 2018

It’s Holiday Time; Let’s Speak Frankly About Sex

Gone are those days when parents/guardians/teachers, religious leaders and community heads shied away from speaking about sex with their children and wards. The spate of sexual violation and abuse today has taught us to engage a more radical approach in educating our wards if we must protect them from molestation, keep their innocence intact and secure their future. Experience of victims as reported by the media everyday tells us that we must be down to earth, open, frank and willing to help our youths.
Moreso this is a very long holiday period when youths are wander about in order to kill boredom. In the process many become vulnerable and fall prey to unscrupulous elements that use them for their selfish interest and escapades.
And so, we engaged our girls on frank sexuality talk, sharing vivid stories of our temptations, peer-pressure, failures while growing up and eventual strength to deal with sexual pressures and allurement. We also informed them about all the safety measures the Lagos State government as put in place to protect the girl-child from sexual violence and abuse, including the helplines to call when they are faced with harassment from violators at home, school or in the community.
And when it was question time, the girls had a lot to say to us.
Asked to write down their takeaways at the end of the day, below are some of the lessons learnt by our amazing girls:
   1.     I learnt that we should not follow bad boys.
2.     I learnt that we should know how to keep our body and as girls, we should know how to say NO.
3.     I leant that we should not allow the challenges we face now bring us down.
4.     I learnt that I have the right to protect myself and say NO to any sexual violence.
5.     I learnt that we should not give ourselves so easily to boys or men.
6.     I learnt that we should not go to boy’s house when we are asked to come.
7.     I learnt that it is not good to tell any man that you are virgin.
8.     I learnt that it is not good to rush into marriage.
9.     I learnt that we should not be intimidated and not be in a hurry to have sex.
10. I learnt that we should not be in a hurry to have sex and we should not rely on any one or be intimidated by anyone.
11.  I learnt that our body is our own and also that our challenges should not stop us from becoming what we want to become.
12. I learnt that we should trust no one, especially boys.
13. I learnt that my brokenness is not an excuse to fail because every challenge I face is for me to get stronger because God cannot give me challenges that I cannot surpass.
14.  I learnt that we should always be strong no matter the challenges.
15. I learnt that you should never tell anybody you are a virgin and always keep yourself safe.
16. I learnt that we should speak out and don’t cover up
17. I learnt that you should put your life in God’s hands so that he may take care of you
18. I learnt that I should not be discouraged but be focused.
  19.  I learnt that my body is mine and I should take control of it.
  20. I learnt that we have to be focused and not let our background makes us a failure.
21. I learnt that we should not run after men in whatever condition we are.
  22.  I learnt that your broken home does not determine your future ambition or what you become in life.
  23.  I learnt that there is no reason or excuse for failure as no one is born or created as a failure.
  24. I learnt that we should learn how to speak out no matter our challenges
25. I learnt that you should always share your problem with elders because a problem shared is a problem solved.
26. I learnt that as a young lady, we should act smart; we should always put God first in everything we are going through.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Vocational Training For Teenage Girls & Adolescent Mothers

Skill Aquizition Tour with Teenage Girls and Adolescent Mothers

One of our cardinal objectives is to help girls gain economic power so they can stand tall against all form of pressures and intimidations to trade their bodies for money.  This we sought to achieve through opportunities for vocational skills and training.

And so, we recently embarked on a one-day tour to different skill acquisition centers. In attendance were excited school girls, out of school teenagers and adolescent mothers.
It was such fun as we went around and learnt how to make hats/fascinators, how to manage plastic waste, how to bake cake and how to make soaps, insecticide, airfreshner and Vaseline.

Although we do not have the seed grants with which to empower our girls to start their businesses as at today, they are excited to learn and hopeful that they will soon scale this financial hurdle and stand on their feet as small-scale entrepreneurs. We are holding on. We must keep hope alive!!!

Saturday, 31 March 2018

IWD: Pressing For Progress with Ijegun Girls

Amid the intense wave of solidarity for women across the globe, Girls Arise Initiative joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 2018 International Women’s Day by engaging young girls with the positive and inspiring #SheCANLead Campaign of the High Commission of Canada in Nigeria.

The program, which held on Saturday 17th March 2018 at the annex of our community office in Lagos had in attendance a total of 85 schoolgirls drawn from 10 schools, who were accompanied by 8 teachers, 5 adolescent mothers, 2 pregnant teenagers, and 4 female professionals drawn from the medical, legal, banking and marketing field who shared their experiences on how they surmounted obstacles to achieve success in life and career.

The purpose of the summit was to inspire the girls to break the glass ceiling and crush every form of fear and inhibition standing on their way to achieving greatness in a male-dominated society, especially in the area of career.

The facilitators-Mrs. Abimbola Ogedengbe, Barrister Bisi Oladele, Miss Seun Ajibola and Mrs. Temitope Adetola took their turn to share their stories of struggle, defeat, determination and success. They also spoke on key factors to consider in choosing a career path, how to overcome peer pressure/distractions and how to build leadership skills. The exciting interactive session was spiced with lots of fun, real life examples, question and answers and practical discussion.

We also had a skill acquisition session where Mrs. Omotola Bisuga took the girls (especially teenage mothers) through practical steps on how make Perfume, Air-freshner and Disinfectant for home use and for small scale businesses.

And to save the day, one of the leading Food & Beverage Companies in Lagos, UAC Foods supported us with the donation of snacks and drinks, thus making the event very colourful and exciting.

As part of our efforts to heal hurts and restore hope, the program ended with our girls feeling celebrated and greatly empowered to live a purpose-driven life and with the resolve to excel in spite of all odds.
Yes, we are pressing for progress! We are investing in the Amazons of tomorrow! We are nurturing a new generation of responsible and successful leaders who would take the world by storm and secure the future of our nation.

#IWD 2018

Friday, 30 March 2018

We Are Ready to Soar In 2018!

While those in school were encouraged to write out their goals for Year 2018 and to diligently work towards fulfilling it, the teen mums were stirred to learn new skills besides soap making, given that we are in a dynamic world where people's preferences and demands change from time to time.

We also had a trainer-Omotola Jesusina on hand to train both groups on hall decorations for event as a means of generating little income in the community, with the promise of further assistance for those that do well here to go for short-term courses on Events Decoration as we get resources.

Although we had more school girls in attendance than the out-of-school girls/young mothers, we are optimistic that the year will bring lots of goodwill and opportunities for empowerment for all and they will be better positioned to actualize their dreams.

We are prepared to Soar! Yes we can and we will!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Let's Talk About Values and Integrity

The Girls Arise meeting started with praise and worship.
Sis Tope revised the previous meeting topic “empowerment” with the girls.
She discussed “Value” with the girls.
Opeyemi defined value as a worth of something. Calister said value is an esteem that an individual or the societies cherish.
Aunty Tope defined value as principle or standard of behavior. It also means one’s judgment of what is important in life e.g. respect, charity, excellence, she said.
It means guidelines or principles that assist you to decide what s right and what is wrong and how to act in various situations.
She then asked, is it good to have values? All the girls replied “Yes”.
Aunty Tope mentioned Integrity as an importance of value. What is Integrity?, she asked the girls.
Semilore said it is an act of having a moral principle.
Calister said it is being bold.
Aunty Tope said integrity is the quality of being honest, hardworking and having strong moral principle. It is also doing a right thing in all circumstance even when nobody is watching.
She briefed the girls about a story narrated by the Vice President of Nigeria.
In an office, there were Chief Typist, Senior Typist and Junior Typist. The junior typist was very hardworking. One day, a man came asking the Vice President to recommend somebody as his personal secretary. The Vice President recommended the Junior Typist who is hardworking and she followed the man abroad.
Hardworking took her to where she hasn’t dreamt of going, she said.
Integrity supports –
1.      Hard work
2.      Diligence
3.      Honesty
4.      Humility
5.      Gratitude
6.      Self Restraint or Discipline
7.      Compassion
8.      Service
Aunty Tope asked some of the girls to contribute to the topic.
Mary said integrity is being hardworking
Opeyemi said value is the worth of something.
Semilore said integrity is being honest. We should always respect one another.
Christiana said compassion; we care and pray for the need of others.
Calister said integrity being straightforward. Our ‘yes’ must be ‘yes’ and our ‘no’ must be ‘no’ so that people will associate with us.
All the girls chorused the definitions of values and importance of values.
Aunty Tope end the meeting with a bible verse, Ecclesiastes 12 vs 13, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep his commandment, for this is the duty of man.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Celebrating the Int'l Day of the Girl Child

 The Girls Arise meeting came timely with the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child which theme was Empower Girls.
Sis Tope discussed verbosely with the girls about Girls Empowerment.
Sis Tope defined Empowerment as increasing in spiritual, political, social and economic strengthening of a girl child.
She talked about the importance of empowerment-

  1.   It improves decision making ability
  2.  It helps to increase access to information and readiness to learn
  3. Empowerment gives youth positive mindset.

After Sis Tope discussed Empowerment with the girls, a five-man panelist was selected among the girls to talk and educate others about Empower Girls.
Comfort Augustine said empowerment is assisting the girl child socially and economically.
Blessing Chijioke said it means to support girls so that they can achieve their desired goals.
Chiamaka Chukwuka said it means helping the girls to realize their goals and aspirations.
Mrs. Aramide Oikelome asked, why do we celebrate the female child? Girls are very dramatic, Favour Oduh answered.
Mrs. Aramide Oikelome said it is because we are in a boy world, so they believe girls don’t mean anything in the world because they end up in kitchen.
She narrated a story of a woman in Ibadan who was a pepper seller but now an Engineer and has PhD in Biomedical Engineering. She then asked the girls, where will you be in the next 5 years?
She also stressed that wishing for something is good; the following are things that may stop your wish to come true- (1) Money (2) Peer group pressure.
Mrs. Aramide Oikelome also narrated the story of a girl who was a virgin but was influenced by friends who have boyfriends. She joined them and later resulted in HIV/AIDS.
Mrs. Aramide Oikelome also asked the girls to mention things that can hinder girls’ empowerment. Some of what were we mentioned are-
1.      Peer pressure
2.      Negative thinking
3.      Lack of determination
4.      Absence of Diligence and Discipline
Some of the girl their contribution-
Opeyemi Olowogaba said we should aim high
Blessing Chijioke said our weakness should not hinder us because that is just the starting point.
Opeyemi Adeyemo said we should be determined because determination leads to destination.
Chiamaka Chukwuka said that there is a king in us that the world is waiting for us.
Later, Aunty Bimbo called from US to talk with the girls. She apologized to those that haven’t gotten a mentor.
Aunty Bimbo talked about “The Power of your Voice”
She said, your voice is very powerful which you use to speak to about situation, life and to friends. Your voice can be used to say “No” when things are not right.
She said there are many ways of expressing ourselves. It can be verbal and non-verbal- singing, writing, drawing etc.
One powerful way of using our voice is to express ourselves by writing, which can bring change to many people in the society.
Areas where your voiced can be used are - (1) To speak (2) In writing (3) singing, dancing and in drawing.
 Aunty Bimbo also asked to girls to contribute and ask questions.
 Chijioke Blessing asked, can you speak your mind through your voice?
Aunty Bimbo said you should find someone you can trust, maybe an adult and tell the person about your mind and your emotion.
Olowogaba Tobi asked a question that if your friend seeks an advice and you voluntarily helped her and gave your little advice, she took it in a wrong tone and said would kill me, what should I do?
Aunty Bimbo said if what you said was true, you should leave her for some time.
Opeyemi Adeyemo summarized the topic “Power of the Voice”.  She said we can use the voice verbally, non-verbally in your heart.  We can express ourselves in singing, dancing and so on.
Aunty Bimbo appreciated all the girls and promised to call them the following week for the mentorship programme. She advised the girls to respect her time and the teachers, thereby being committed is the only means of appreciation in exchange of her dedication to us.

Aunty Tope led the closing prayer.

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