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.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

September: Time to Assess Bestspring Foundation’s Work with Ijegun Youths

Unlike previous meetings where the boys and girls met in separate groups, this month’s meeting was combined.
Expectedly, Girls Arise Initiative team took the lead, being the most vibrant and engaging group. We had lots of things to talk about, ranging from how the summer holiday has been to what preparations needs be made as school resumes in few days.
The convener, Aunty Aramide stressed the need for youths to be responsible, dutiful and appreciative of the efforts of the organization to serve them selflessly. Thereafter, she called for sincere assessment of all the activities and engagements of Bestspring Foundation since it began operations in Ijegun in October 2013 and more importantly in the last one year when both Girls Arise Initiative and Boys & Champions groups were inaugurated. She noted that the assessment is not to demand praises but to let the foundation know what the pressing needs of the youths are and how best to serve them.
It would be recalled that the activities of the foundation bothers on providing educational, nutritional, psycho-social and health support to members in Ijegun and its neighbouring communities.
Comments from respondents are as follows-
1.      Celine Fredrick– I am a first timer. I appreciate what is happening here but I observe that some people are immature. I advise there should be stronger bond and more maturity amongst members.
2.      Calister Uche – I appreciate all that is happening here. The organization has given me numerous opportunities to go places where I have been inspired and impacted positively. I wish for continuity.
3.      Abiodun Remilekun – Bestspring has taught me many things. I have gained wisdom on how to live a purposeful life so that I will not be abused or molested by men.
4.      Angelina Uche – I am a first timer but from all that my sister used to say, I like what the foundation is doing. I will appreciate if they can bring more mentors and inspirational speakers to come and talk to our youths in Ijegun.
5.      Opeyemi Adeyemo – Bestspring has provided me a great mentorship opportunity. I feel loved and protected. They have also provided health support.
6.      Chijioke Blessing– This group has impacted my life in many wonderful ways. I am a better informed and upward looking girl now. But I will like Mummy Aramide to be calling us to know about our welfare because sometimes, I may have things I want to share with her but because I don’t have credit I can’t call her. You know, its not everything I can tell my mummy at home. So, I will like her to be calling us in case I want to pour out my mind to her.  
7.      Ola Christiana- I want to thank this group for introducing me to Naija girls’ programme presently going on at Ikotun Local Government . I recommend it to every girl because there we learn about Life, Love and Life-Skills. It’s a very enriching programme for every girl so every lady in this club should be part of it.
8.      Ayomide Shobayo – Were it not for Bestspring Foundation, I would not have gone to secondary school. So I want to thank them for providing me scholarship to get secondary education. I also want to suggest that they should help us in getting job. There are many jobless youths in my area there are just wasting away. They need help. We need help to save the youths.
While promising to work on all the suggestions made, the convener urged the boys and girls to be computer literate so they can take advantage of the employment opportunities that come from the current Lagos State Government. She promised to do all within her power to help the youths get a better and productive life.
The youths left the meeting very excited and hopeful for a better tomorrow. Many also received the admission card to join the Naija Girls programme at once.

My Mama Is My Inspiration

My Mama used to say to me, “I was humiliated by your father. I was treated like a non-living soul”. How painful it is when a woman goes through so much pain. Imagine a woman being disrespected by men.

They think they can toy with us, they think we are sex toys, they think we are worthless. We deserve our respect as women, we are not meant to be treated like whores. They are shameless; all they want is put us in pains, lust and tears, but they don’t know the beginning of their downfall is to make us cry.

As a woman, we have things in us, we have strong spirit. My mama is my inspiration and that is why I always want to be a feminist.

Our power is in our tears!!!

We give them life; yet they make us worthless. How painful! We deserve our respect from them, let them know our worth and let us show them our worth.

As a woman we deserve our respect. We should understand our power and wield it like Samurai sword. We command respect; we don’t demand it. Just by the way she carries herself; a woman wields so much power and influence.

So many Mamas will say to their girls: you know family is in a hard condition, you have to start taking good care of yourself, especially when you are already a teenager or an eighteen year old girl. That’s so wrong and painful. As a woman you control what you can control-your image, your carriage, your influence. As a woman your destiny is in your hands.

As a woman you have to be smart. You could be the most perfect woman on the Lord’s green earth. You have the key to your life and your destiny. But seriously women, the decision is yours. Don’t give that power up. Keep it, save it.

We deserve their care. Let’s make them know that we deserve our respect, we deserve our rights as women. That is why we have to fight for our rights; protest for our freedom and demand for what truly belongs to us- there should be equality between men and women.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Linking Hands Foundation Partners with Bestspring Foundation

As part of efforts to stem the tide of teenage pregnancy and its attendant problems, it became expedient for us at Bestspring Foundation, through its Girls Arise Initiative, to educate our schoolgirls at Ijegun on their reproductive health rights. And so on Saturday 15th July, we partnered with Linking Hands Foundation and its allies to organise a conference on Menstrual Hygiene.
Linking Hands Foundation, headed by Mrs. EfeFarinre, offered to support us with Re-useable pads, which was graciously supplied by Days For Girls International and refreshments.
It was a very warm and interactive session with  Dr. AramideOteju, Mrs. EfeFarinre and myself sharing deep truths with the over sixty girls in attendance. We spoke about menstrual cycle, ovulation and sex. We spoke about the challenges girls face during menstrual periods and how it often prevents them from attending school.
The girls were thoroughly excited when they were introduced to the re-useable pads package as a better alternative, considering that many already had problems with buying regular branded pads like Always, Diva, Dr. Brown, Lady Care or other local brands like Cotton wool, Toilet tissue and Rags.
The girls asked questions on how to manage menstrual pain and hygiene, mood swings, and peer group pressures that often lure them into sex and sometimes unwanted pregnancy.

It was indeed an insightful and informative experience for the girls. Much more it was a blessed day because they found a ready solution to the nagging problem of managing menstruation without distraction or shame.

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