Saturday, 2 December 2017

Girls Arise Club Celebrates 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.

As a Woman

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.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Battling the Scourge of Rape in a Permissive Society

At what age should children be exposed to sexuality education and enlightenment? Who should be their first teacher? And what should be the extent of the information we give to safeguard them from all forms of sexual abuse and mismanagement?
These are questions begging for answers. But beyond answers, these are problems begging for solutions, especially in a society that is not only so porous and permissive as to treat issues of Rape with kid’s cloves but also a society that is so compromised as to protect culprits and conceal their devious acts.
Like it is in most underdeveloped areas, Ijegun and its neighbouring communitiesnamely Abaranje, Oke-Orube, Ijeododo, Kudebu and Ijagemo, all in Ikotun axis of Alimosho Local Govt Area of Lagos State boasts of a huge percentage of unformed youths, hence many are reckless about sex. Unfortunately, many men, both single and married, also take pride in sexually assaulting, abusing and molesting young girls and teenagers: and oftentimes they get away with it because there is little or no punitive measure from community leaders and policy makers.
Rape has been adjudged one of the causes of teenage pregnancy/early marriage in the area, more so that the culture of silence and secrecy makes it easy for sexual assault and abuse to thrive. Sometimes the abusers are even old and aged men, who by virtue of their position as landlords or community leaders seek to take advantage of vulnerable girls.
How then do we safeguard the girl-child against this injustice? How do we prevent her from being violated? How do we protect her dream from being truncated by unscrupulous elements? How do we prepare her to defend her right?
These and many more informed our decision to begin a Sexuality Education class at the Girls Arise Initiative forum.Knowledge is power, they say. And so it turned out two weeks ago (09/06/17) as we engaged the girls in an open, down-to-earth interactive session on the Anatomy of the Female Body. This is part of our DAC to stem the surge of teenage pregnancy and empower girls to live more purposeful and productive lives.
Our volunteer, Toyin Fakuade, who happens to be a graduate of Biology, did a fantastic job on this subject. Not only did she give graphic details of sensitiveparts of the female body e.g. the breast, hips, ovary, vagina, fallopian tube, uterusand its functions but she also enlightened the girls on the subject of virginity.
Taking over from here, I asked a simple question – What do you understand by Rape? In answer, one of the girls said,“Rape is sex without a person’s consent.” I went further to give copious examples of instances where girls have been assaulted, abused or raped outrightly and how to identify warning signals from a potential rapist, especially in the neighbourhood.
At this juncture, itwas as though I took the lid off a kettle of boiling water as the girls decided toopen up on the several threats and advances they have encountered from neighbours and co-tenants in the community.
One of the girls narrated how a married man in her compound once asked if she was a virgin and she answered ‘Yes’. Ever since then, the man has taken it upon himself to give her unsolicited sexuality education and advice, part of which is that the girl needs allow a man deflower now to avoid complications during childbirth. It took a while to debunk the lies she had been fed with and also enlighten her on the need to speak out against his deceptive advances by reporting him to his wife and children as well as her own mother. Incidentally at this time, he was already boasting that he would be the one to deflower her one day and in her naivety she dismissed it as empty threat despite the fact that the man had been stalking her.
Another girl asked, “If you have a neighbour that harasses you sexually and you are unable to open up to your parents because you are not free with them, what do you do? To this I quickly offered myself as the listening ear and confidant, the intermediary between her and her parents and the whistle blower to expose the culprit.
One after the other, the girls asked burning questions that had been bottled up for so long.  It soon dawned on me that many of them have been near victims of rape while some have suffered one form of sexual assault or the other.
We cannot deny the fact that sexual assault is a traumatic experience that affects the victim emotionally, psycho-socially, physically and sometimes even spiritually. Oftentimes ithappens to vulnerable people, regardless of class or status. Sadly too, perpetrators are not strangers. They are well known people, uncles, fathers, brothers, family friends, neighbours etc. It happens near us;in our homes, schools and worship centres and communities.
The question is -Are parents listening? No! The Family and Society are more concerned about keeping and covering the secret because of the shame and stigma attached to it.
Interestingly, the girls were all clued to their chairs; they didn’t want the meeting to end. They didn’t even mind that it was getting dark. This, I reasoned was a subject that was very dear to their hearts and they needed help. There and then I resolved that in finding solution to this oppression and repression, we must talk about it more; we must provide a safe space for necessary information/ sensitization; we must empower our girls with defence mechanism; we must encourage them to speak up and speak out. Then, we must put necessary machinery in place to confront the injustice that victims are made to suffer.
And for the society to find the way out of this imbroglio,
1.     We must dispel the myth that it is a normal thing.
2.     We must create an enabling environment for girls and boys to be educated on their sexuality.
3.     We must revisit our value system and train our sons to respect women.
4.     We must look for interventions that are effective such as self-defence classes.
5.     We must confront our long time challenges – Cultural challenges.
6.     We must look at our policies and laws and change them to accommodate women and girls rights.
7.     We must establish strict/heavy sanctions and punishment for violators/offenders.
Again, it is sad to know that often times, women and girls believe they are powerless, so they sometimes excuse abuse. The first step in addressing this problem is to work on yourself as a woman or girl. How do you do this?
1.     Address the issue of low self-esteem and self-worth
2.     Empower yourself and your daughter to be a black – belt taekwondo fighter
3.     Before slowing up at the marriage table, you must be able to earn a living and feed yourself; that way you are economically empowered and won’t be a push-over for any man to abuse.

May: Power of a Call

This meeting held on the 2nd Friday of the month.  The meeting started by 2:00pm with opening prayer. Praise and worship was taken by Chukwu Peace. It was basically to kick start the mentoring program; hence there was a call-in session by the Project chair, Mrs. Bimbo Adegbite.
Bimbo asked a question, who is a mentor?
Olowogaba Tobi, one of the girls answered that a mentor is someone you care about you or you look unto for guidance to achieve your goal. Bimbo said when you are in a mentoring class; you have to express yourself very well to your mentor i.e. feel free to say anything bothering you to your mentor. She also talked about the benefit of the mentoring program. She said that the mentors are going to develop the girls in their skills, talent, vocations etc. she added that the mentors are there to encourage them as well as care for them.  She assured the girls of her support and readiness to help.
She talked about the phone and this is a moment the girls were waiting for. She said the phone which will be given out to the girls will be used talk to their mentors and not to be misused or abused. She told the girls to be careful on whom they give their numbers to. She told them that the phone can be used to call their parents, siblings and relatives. She advised the girls to always charge their phone and they should be ready any day for their mentor. 
When asked if the girls have anything to say, Chijioke Blessing answered that charging the phone will be difficult because of power failure. She suggested that they should be given power bank to store energy.
Going further, Aunty Aramide Oikelome also asked the questions- Who is a mentor?
Ezeigbo chiamaka answered that a mentor is a person who guides you through challenges in order to achieve a goal. She then asked what their challenges are, Egeonu Sarah answered that as a teenager we have friends who either influence us positively or negatively, and so we need a mentor to help and guide us to achieve our goal. Uche Calister added to what Sarah had said in terms of education, that if we have a challenge in our academic, a mentor can guide us on the course we are to choose, the career to go for, our difficulties in school and how to get solutions to them.
Aunty Bimbo was excited and encouraged the girls to try their best. She said the mentors are available for them in terms of development, skills, talent etc. In conclusion, she encouraged them to go to school and believe in themselves. She also appreciated the parents for giving her the opportunity and privilege to share with the girls.
Aunty Aramide told the girls that the mentorship programme would last for one year. She cautioned the girls not to ask the mentors about our financial needs. She said their interest should be in what we want to achieve. She told them the main reason why they have mentors is to be guided to become stars in all areas of life (spiritually, academically and physically).
She advised the girls and told them about the story of a rich Navy Chief whose only daughter, an undergraduate met some boys on facebook and the boys deceived her to come to Lagos. She came to Lagos and these boys took her to an hotel where she was raped and killed by these boys.
The phones were shared and the girls took pictures. The girls were happy to be part of the Mentorship Programme.

Girls of Many Colours

The program started 9:00am and the opening prayer was taken one of the members of Diva ladies. After the opening prayer, each student introduce herself and the national anthem was taken by one of the student of Queensland Academy.
A debate was held between Queensland Academy and Solid Rock Academy. The topic was tagged “Am different which means I am better than you”.  Queensland Academy opposed the motion while Solid Rock Academy supported the motion. Finally, Queensland Academy won the debate with 81%. The following points were raised during the debate:    
1. Ability
2. Culture
3.  Family background
4. Religion and so on
The Solid Rock Academy has 55% and with a few points such as:
1.  Confidence
2.   Being the best in your field
3. And try to be the best that you are
After the debate, the guest speakers were introduced: Mrs. Pst. Isabel and Mrs. Kelvin Moses.
Mrs. Isabel spoke on being yourself and she talked about having a dream and focusing on the dream. She also talked about being a pacesetter and never let anything bring you down. She asked a question that what is the problem of Nigeria is. Some student responded saying poor administration, corruption, examination malpractice, bribery and so on. She then asked for the solution and all the students answered “we the people”.
Mrs. Kelvin Moses spoke on ‘discover what you like doing or what you have passion for’. Some said is Artist, Actress, Medicine and assisting people. She briefly talked about her story that she study Accounting and Finance but she did not have passion for Accounting. She said she had passion for lecturing people on etiquette and she is doing well in it. She told us to try to build a high self esteem in our self and bring out our inner beauty.
One of the members of Diva ladies talked about make-up which means to enhance your beauty. She said this make-up is not for teenagers, it is for women. Women use make-up to look like teenagers. She said it is normal for girls at this stage to have eczema, pimples but it will go. She said we should try to wash our face in the morning and evening and not to make-up and focus on our study.
Later a talk show took place with the two speakers and the host of the girls with many colours.
Mrs. Isabel talked about the relationship between beauty and purity? She asked a question that is there any difference between beauty and purity? Yes. She talked about value that girls have value no matter your age and we are all amazing. Then the next speaker also talked about value and purity, she said we should be aware of the choice and decision we make and we should make the right choice and decision which will influence our future, she added by saying your today decision will affect your tomorrow which will be guided and guard by your parents.
Mrs. Isabel said every decision you make in life come with a consequence. She said above all, self-esteem comes from yourself.
A film was shown by the host which the founder of the God’s Own Diva Club narrated on how, when and the purpose of the club. She said she was in a place and God told her that where my women who are colourfully, fearfully and wonderfully made which my grace bestowed upon them 9 years ago. In 2014, she called her friend together and they founded the colour all over the nations of earth. She said ladies and girls should try to put away the issues of boyfriend off our mind and the devil is also introducing some bad and exposing cloth and make-up, we should stay away from it. She said how can we exhibit our colours is to keep it. She said who is the God of many colours? Colour is God; idea of rainbow is the light breakdown to 7 colours. Rainbow is the sign of purity that come from the holiness of God. She said your beauty is your originality. She said your discovery gives your life a meaning. Destiny is God plans for you. She said girls of many colours are girls that fight for purpose, shining brightly with glory because they are fearfully and wonderfully made by God.
After that, question were asked and answered by the guest speakers.
Refreshments were given and the club song was sung by Diva Funmi with closing prayer.
I learnt to be bolf, fight for purpose and my beauty us my originality. Thank you
Kazeem Wuraola said she learnt to have self-esteem and also be cheerful.
Dameida Tosin said that she should have self-esteem and be bold
Adebiyi Hannah said we should be bold
Kazeem Damilola said that God has many colours, we should not see our self as ugly people and we should be original.
Christopher Favour said she learnt to have confidence, be bold and we should always say to ourselves that “I am amazing”. Also, when a boy tells u I love you, tell him that God loves you so what is special about your love.

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