Dr. Mairo
 
 
Seated on a mat with their needles and threads, weaving embroideries on northern caps in production, the four young men appeared as if they had no care in the world. But the moment they started sharing with me their horrifying stories, it became clear that behind the veneer of that calmness were scars that may never heal.

The story started one early morning in 2014, in Banki, Bama local government area of Borno State, when the residents were roused from sleep by booms from guns. With the invasion of Boko Haram insurgents that followed, everybody in town started to run into the bush before embarking on journeys to nowhere that lasted several days for those who survived. Eventually, these young men landed in a Cameroonian village from where they found their way back to an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Yola, Adamawa State where they would spend the next two years.

The foregoing summary does not tell the tragic story of horror, blood and tears recounted for me on Tuesday at Dalori IDP camp on the day residents of Banki ran for their lives, some only in their underwear. Today, many cannot locate their parents or children or siblings nor are they sure as to whether these relations are still alive or dead. As I moved quietly within the camp, with a strong warning that if any of the patrolling soldiers knew of my presence, there would be trouble, I met another set of men who congregated under a tree. They were all Fulani. Five years ago, according to their account, they were living in Damasak until Boko Haram took over the area and they fled to Baga. A few weeks ago, their nightmare resurfaced when Boko Haram struck Baga and they had to flee without their herds that are now history. But then the question, what was I doing in Maiduguri?

 

Last week in Abuja, the Girls Child Concerns (GGC), an NGO being promoted by Dr Mairo Mandara, held a summit which attracted traditional and religious leaders from 22 African countries to discuss the plights of girl child on the continent with special focus on education. It is part of Mandara’s efforts to elevate the conversation on maternal and child health and the status of women and girls, against the background that education is central to addressing complex challenges like health, poverty and conflict. But my interest is more on what GGC is doing in Maiduguri with the victims of Boko Haram and I have for the past two years been promising Mandara thatI would visit her projects.

In fulfilment of that promise, I left for Maiduguri on Monday though if I knew that President Muhammadu Buhari was also visiting that day, I probably would have postponed my own plan. But aside the discomfort of our aircraft being forced to roam in the air for about 20 minutes before being allowed to land, the upside is that the presidential visit meant that security was beefed up in the state that has become notorious for insecurity. And I learnt a lot within the 24 hours that I spent in Maiduguri.

With the general election less than a month away, I am aware that most of my readers are more interested in politics, especially with the media space awash with stories of huge crowds of idle people being drawn to campaign grounds at working hours on weekdays; celebrations of the ability by a candidate to spend one night in America; the desperate efforts to remove the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) who, I must add, has not done himself any favour with revelations that call to question not only his personal integrity but that of the judiciary he heads etc. In between, President Olusegun Obasanjo has lately been very busy, writing his usual seasonal letter to the incumbent, and following up with strong statements. But there is nothing in what is going on that we have not seen before which is why I have elected to invest my time on issues that directly impact the most vulnerable of our society.

Although more renowned for her extensive interest in public health as an obstetrician-gynaecologist by training with Fellowship from the Faculty of Public Health, United Kingdom Royal College of Physicians, Mandara’s efforts with vulnerable girls became her central focus after she left the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as the Country Director. With what I saw in Maiduguri, I must commend her for the job she and her team are doing not only to improve the lives of several girls through education but also for the forward-thinking that has birthed an expansive skills’ acquisition centre that is currently under construction with funding support from the King of Morocco’s Foundation.

The moment I arrived Maiduguri on Monday, Mandara took me straight to the Bakkassi IDP camp where Boko Haram victims from five local governments are sheltered. There, I met the women who have been organised into a cooperative that offers them opportunity to learn different trades that would be useful for them to stand on their own when they eventually return to their villages. Under the Community Health Extension Workers (CHEW) programme, Mandara is also training selected women and girls in healthcare so that they can provide basic health services like treating malaria, helping in ante natal care and nutrition, administering oral rehydration therapy (ORT) to prevent and treat dehydration etc. The essence of the training, according to Mandara, is because health workers have deserted the communities attacked by Boko Haram and may not want to return when the villagers go back.

On Tuesday morning, we visited Government Girls College where some of the GGC scholars are students. These are girls that were picked from the camps and were interviewed. The promising ones are being put in schools in Kaduna, Katsina and Maiduguri with their tuition fully paid by Mandara’s GGC that draws support from friends and some international partners. Four of the girls are currently in the United States where one is about to enter university to study medicine. As we drove around Maiduguri to see her projects, my interactions with Mandara were quite revealing on the impact of Boko Haram insurgency on women and girls in Borno and what the future portends unless there is a massive intervention by all stakeholders.

The Dalori camp that I visited on Tuesday, I must say, is well-maintained, unlike many such camps across the country. But what is also evident at the camp is the inequality that defines our society. Mandara told me that the rent prices are skyrocketing in Maiduguri. Although she believes it’s because of the presence of many international agencies, there is also a variable that she is not looking into: the pressure from prominent people within the state who uproot their families from the rural communities. Those are not people who stay in camps!

The tragedy of Boko Haram comes in different dimensions and I heard heart-rendering stories. For instance, my guide recounted a recent attack on Gwange village where the insurgents killed a popular Imam. “We heard that they left instructions that the Imam should not be buried but that made no sense. The next day, we all gathered for the burial. All of a sudden, we started hearing gunshots and we abandoned the corpse and ran for our lives. A few hours later, Boko Haram men came back to the village to kill the Imam who was leading the prayer at the burial ground.”

There is also a growing pattern that the authorities must pay attention to. Those who fled Baga attest to the fact that they were actually given the option to stay or leave and the insurgents who came were almost civil in their approach, preferring only to engage the military. I understand they were men of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) led by Abu Musab Al-Barnawi. He is said to be polite and completely different from Abubakar Shekau renowned for his extreme violence. But that makes Al-Barnawi even more dangerous.

While I intend to interrogate the resurgence of Boko Haram and other terror affiliates another day, I must express my concerns about the growing desperation for power by politicians in both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). if there is any lesson I learnt from the IDP camps in Borno State, it is that we must do everything to avoid anything that would engender another humanitarian crisis in our country before, during and after the general election.

In his book, “Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places”, Paul Colliermakes dire predictions about how ballots could easily lead to bullets, especially in developing countries with weak institutions and where there is a clear absence of accountability in governance, a category to which Nigeria belongs. At a period we expect serious campaigns on critical national issues, including the strike that has kept students of our public universities at home for almost three months, the growing desperation for power speaks to the possibilities of violence after the election if care is not taken.

In his Vanguard Newspaper Lecture last week, Fate Foundation Chairman, Mr Fola Adeola, who spoke on ‘12 giant evils’ confronting our country, also raised several critical questions. But it is his conclusion that should serve as food for thought for those who love our country: “If we continue to ignore the reality that we are a country on the precipice, it is almost certain that we will fall over. It can get worse, and there are examples all around us. Yemen, Sudan, Libya, the DRC; these are all countries with people who also pray to ‘the living God’. Between the opioid optimism of the religious, and the parochial preoccupation with the nuclear that numbs the elite, we are stumbling towards Armageddon. And the thing about Armageddon is it engulfs all: the poor, the rich, the innocent and the guilty.”

What the foregoing says very clearly is that on top of all that the troubles that ail us in Nigeria, we really do not need an election crisis. We should do everything to avoid one!

Femi-Pearse Goes Home

The remains of the late Professor Deji Femi-Pearse, renowned medical practitioner and a former Provost of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), will be committed to mother earth today in Iworo, Badagry. The same community he built the famous Whispering Palms resort, following his retirement from academic life in 1991. At the invitation of his son-in-law, Mr Robert Ade-Odiachi, famously known to many of us younger ones as Uncle Robbie, I flew into Lagos from Maiduguri on Tuesday to attend the Night of Tributes at Muson Centre.

For a man who excelled in the field of medicine before venturing into the hospitality industry where he also built a respected brand, the late Femi-Pearse has left a lasting legacy. This much became evident as eminent professors and captains of industry paid their tributes. There were also hilarious testimonies from Pastor Ituah Ighodalo and others. But the climax of the occasion was the rendition, by a young man, of Frank Sinatra’s evergreen signature song, ‘My Way’. Said to be one of the late Femi-Pearse’s favourite tracks, it is also a fitting tribute to an accomplished man everybody testified lived and died strictly by his own code:

The Verdit By Olusegun Adeniyi

And now, the end is near And so I face the final curtain My friend, I’ll say it clear I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain I’ve lived a life that’s full I’ve traveled each and every highway And more, much more than this I did it my way…

Youth from across Africa came together at a youth forum which was a pre-conference activity that took place at Nicon Luxury Hotel, Plot 903.Tafawa Balewa Way, Area 11, Garki, Abuja, Nigeria on 13th January 2019. The forum was set to kick-start activities for the First Regional Conference of African Traditional and Religious Leaders on Keeping Girls in School in Africa. One of the key objectives of the pre-conference was to stimulate discussions among youth that were participating at the main conference and get their unique perspective as well as the role they can play in Keeping girls in school. It was aimed at ensuring the voices of youth will be properly represented in decisions that will be taken at the end of the conference. The goal was for the youth to set an agenda on how to interact with the Traditional and Religious leaders and explore innovative ways for collaboration and partnership within the region. It was also aimed at promoting dialogue between young people, Traditional and Religious leaders and giving them an opportunity to come up with recommendation on the most effective strategies for keeping girls in school   (K G S).     There were 3 sessions At the Youth Forum; 1- An interactive session where participants were divided into 4 groups to articulate their questions and method of engagement with Traditional and Religious leaders. Each group was expected to come up with key messages, tailored at at streamlining the discussion to be focused towards KGS.   2-Two panel discussions to provoke discussions among the youth. The first panel which was headed by the Emir of Argungu HRH Alhaji Samaila Mera had panelists of Youth-led groups from Botswana Gogontlejang Phaladi, Nina Mbah from Nigeria, Joannes Yimbeselu from Cameroon, Joecelia Monica Quewon from Liberia.   Their discussions centered around programs within their communities that were led by youth. These included; Setting up youth-led commitment in mentorship programs for young people and creating vibrant youth networking and partnership with Traditional and Religious Leadership to advance Keeping Girls In School  ( KGS). The second panel was made up of youth working in different education focussed organizations, where they shared the work they do, their experiences and best practices as explored other strategic ways to ensure all girls access education and remain in school.     From the interactive session, some key issues were highlighted viz-a-viz;
  1. The need to create awareness, sensitize communities on the importance of keeping girls in school (KGS).
  2. Identified challenges of inadequate youth friendly centers and poverty as one of the key issues affecting girls education , there is need to come up with ways to address this and also identify the roleTraditional leaders can play in sustaining the process.
  3. Identifying issues that keep girls away from school.
  4. Changing the narrative on girls Education.
  5. Need to drive accountability by not only keeping girls in school but ensuring they complete
  6. The unique role Traditional and Religious leaders can play especially in taking the lead to advocate for Keeping girls in school (KGS).
  7. Exploring innovative and workable interventions that will keep girls in school

DAUSIYA RUFAI

My name is Dausiya Rufa’i. I come from a poor Northern family in Kudan Local government, Zaria. My dad is a farmer and my mum a full time house wife. This has been the status of my Family since I was born. In my local government, female education has a very low percentage; they believe that after primary school level, the girl should be in her husband’s house. lack of education and early child marriage are some of the common things in my Local government and the northern part of Nigeria generally. I am one of the few people whose parents struggled to send to school out of the little money they have. Soon as I completed my Primary 5 level at LEA primary school Hunkuyi, my parents and other relatives started asking me to present a husband (as a normal practice back there), this also had to do with the fact that we had no/very little money and they could not afford to pay for another school so getting married was to save the costs. I was okay with the idea of getting married because it is a normal thing for girls to get married at a very young age, and I could not tell the importance of further education because I did not grow to see any girl in the neighborhood further their studies. Personally, the reason why i went to primary school was because I was enrolled and my parent told me to do so, school was more like a meeting place for me and my class mates to play. In 2004, I earned a primary school certificate. What next? Marriage as my parentS had planned. They had someone in mind for me in case I told them I had no one to marry. But luck smiled at me. One good blessed day, a friend of my dad came to the house, he and my dad had not seen for a long time because he travelled, so they had a lot to talk about. As their discussion went on, the friend told him about a scholarship program introduced to our Local government by a registered and legit non-governmental organization called Girl Child Concerns (GCC). My dad was not comfortable with the idea of taking me (as a girl) away from home and living me in the hands of people whom we know nothing about, in addition to that, he thought to himself, who will help my mum with all the house chores when I’m gone and how sure are they that this people are to be trusted? It was a struggle getting my dad to consider this option for me, but his friend been an educated man had solid information about this organization. He had heard a lot about them and how they have helped in the improvement of communities by encouraging and supporting child education in different communities for years. After some time, we met the program officer and the other officials where we wrote an exam and we were interviewed. I passed the test and was enrolled into Queen Amina collage, where I started from JSS1 -SS3. School life was as sweet as lollipop even though initially I was catapulted in to the world of loneliness being taken away from home but with the encouragement of GCC Staff it is now history.. Apart from class education, I and other GCC beneficiaries had other advantageous privileges such as the annual retreat program which was designed to bring all GCC beneficiaries together and to remind us of our options in life. During this retreat, they would enlighten us more on the importance of education, dangers of early marriage, expected life challenges and more. It is a golden opportunity to be a GCC beneficiary because if not for this organization, I am certain I would have been married with kids by now, probably in the same gloomy situation. This program has not only helped me but my family as a whole and many other young girls especially those from poor families whose parent cannot afford to send them to school. I successfully graduated from Queen Amina College in 2011 and currently, I am an ND-2 computer science student at Federal polytechnic, Bauchi. Today, I am able to stand in front of crowds due to the self-esteem/confidence I have also gained during this period. I am very thankful to Girl child concerns for the life time priviledge they have offered me and as a way of showing my appreciation, I will like to partake In GCC programs designed to assist young girls, so that I can share my experience with them and remind them what a great opportunity they have at hand.
Dausiya Rufai
STORY

FATIMA SULEIMAN

I am Fatima Suleiman; I was born and brought up in the northern part of Nigeria, Katsina state to be precise. I am a 22year old girl who grew up in a polygamous Hausa-Fulani home with three wives and 11 children; my mum being the second wife and the mother of five. Out of these eleven children, three of us are girls and I happened to be the last. Katsina, being another northern state also has a very low count of females in school. As it is, very few people (girls especially) go to school and most are from the few citizens who are financially capable or those that are exposed. Our family on the other hand, surviving averagely (for the most part because of our large number and financial status), was not one of those to encourage the girl child education. I have two sisters, one not in school at all and the other is a secondary school dropout which makes me the only graduate to be in the family. Growing up was fun, considering I had many siblings, a lot of family members and friends around. That fun was however short lived as I lost my mother at a tender age of 3. The day she died marked the beginning of my tragedy, I was so heartbroken that I believed that was the end for me. Everything that used to be fun became unbearable as I could only think of her in whatever I was doing. Thereon, I started facing the challenges of life and reality hit me so fast and early. Staying in the same surrounding was making life uneasy for me because of the love and closure that existed between us. In 1995 my mother's sister took me in to stay with her in Kaduna. She enrolled me into Jamil nursery and primary school unguwan kanawa Kaduna for my primary school education. She was so kind and the only mother I knew, in her little ways she tried to make me feel loved and comfortable. Living with her was full of love and experiences, she is so compassionate and I learned numerous things from her. She also took full responsibility of me. By 2004 I was already 15, it still touches my heart to remember this age and year because a lot happened to me, including getting used to the teenage life, increase in responsibilities at home (chores) puberty and so on. Also this was the year that my aunt who was the dearly beloved mother I grew up to know passed away. Another tear jerking moment, life became wretched again for me, no one to shoulder my burden, I became bothered and stranded. Now at this point, I lost hope, feeling like I no longer have a purpose in life and school I just never thought of again. God so kind, my elder sister who has been married for a while suggested that I moved with her in her husband’s house also here in Kaduna. Her husband was so kind to send me back to school and sponsor me until he made sure I successfully completed my primary education at command primary school in Kawo, Kaduna. It was the best he could do for me as an average family man and I remain thankful for his support. Towards the ending of 2004, he learnt about an organization, GIRL CHILD CONCERNS (GCC) who had interests in issues relating to mine, they care for the girl child and her continued education, he also learnt that they had an ongoing scholarship scheme for the less privileged Girls. Through him I was awarded with a scholarship and secured admission into capital secondary school Kaduna, I was there from JSS1- SS3 under the GCC scholarship scheme. Occasionally, they would visit I and the other beneficiaries in school, we had retreats annually on life skill development issues. GCC made sure we felt loved and cared for- these people became my family In early 2010, we were taken to Lagos by GCC for a video training programme and earned a certificate from communication for change’/NIKE. That was my first visit to another part of the country and also my first time in an airplane. After graduating from secondary school same year in mid 2010, still under GCC, we were again selected for a 3 months intensive training with new age network on script writing, programming, editing and production. In September 2010, I got an admission into Umaru Musa Yar’adua University (UMYU) to study Education Hausa. My sister’s husband pledged to sponsor me because GCC scholarship stops at secondary school. Unfortunately for me, another tragedy happened in 2012 during my second year in school; I lost my sister’s husband who was sponsoring my university education. After his death, things became more difficult and different as there was no one to pay my fees, give me pocket money or cater for my little needs generally. I went back to GCC and narrated all my tribulations to them, God so kind they promised to continue paying my tuition fees like before. They have been there for me all through my trauma as a back bone. I have always wondered where I would be and what my life would look like if there was no GCC, I would probably still be in Kastina state, married with kids, and an a life experience nothing compared to what I have now. But With the complete help of GCC today I have a different story to tell. Apart from formal education, I am now able to handle a camera professionally. They have invested in me a great sense of social responsibility. Every time when we were on holidays in secondary school, I would mentor my younger ones and some of their friends. I did not want to forget what I had learnt and also I wanted to improve myself. I really enjoyed doing this linking it to the fact that my ambition is to be a teacher. I wish to have the privilege to impact knowledge on others at the same time giving back to the community. One day I would love to see a Nigeria where all boys and girls especially go to school. Because I believe that by educating a girl child like GCC has done for me, it will be easier to eliminate poverty and other harmful practices we are struggling with in Nigeria. The main challenge in Kastina where I come from and other northern states is poverty. Although education is free, parents have to pay for other charges which they can hardly afford. This is the reason why I intend to open an Organization like GCC as my Goal is to see Nigeria as a country where every child goes to school and actually benefits enormously. Today I am about to finish my 3rd year, with just a year left to graduate from the university and become the first graduate in my family. At the same time I am equally preparing for my marriage ceremony which is coming up last week of September 2013. My husband to be who is a military man has promised to allow me continue with my education after the marriage. He is someone who understands my goal, life story and ambition to teach which he fully supports.
FATIMA SULEIMAN
STORY

EMPOWERING RURAL ADOLESCENT GIRLS AS VILLAGE HEALTH WORKERS IN BORNO STATE, NIGERIA

Child Concerns (GCC) is presently implementing a health project in Borno with the goal of empowering young rural women as Village Health Workers in the state. This is aimed at addressing the poor state of adolescents and maternal health in the Boko Haram affected Borno state of Nigeria. The project is strengthening the agency, and voice of rural adolescent girls by supporting their transition from secondary school to training as village Health Workers and in so doing, addressing the acute shortage of female health workers in Borno communities. The project which kicked off in December 2017 has integrated proven girls’ education strategies with innovative vocational interventions to build adolescent girls’ career aspirations and will significantly increase the number of rural girls enrolling into the community village health service scheme in Borno state.

OBJECTIVES

The target communities are Gwoza, Konduga and Bama and strategic objectives of the program are to:
  1. a) provide second chance opportunities for adolescent girls affected by conflict in North East Nigeria;
  2. b) increase availability, deployment and retention of female health workers to deliver reproductive and maternal health services especially in rural communities of Borno;
  3. c) Empower adolescent girls and young women through education, mentorship and service.
As at date, 246 VHWs have been trained by GCC and provided both practicum and didactic VHW skills, knowledge and information, while 38 CHEWshave been trained in supportive supervision and are being linked to local health facilities in their communities. The training curriculum was based on the approved National Primary Health Care Development Agency curriculum for Village Health Workers in Nigeria Under the project, Girl Child Concerns (GCC) will address the poor state of adolescents and maternal health in Boko Haram affected Borno state of Nigeria. The project will strengthen the agency, and voice of rural adolescent girls by supporting their transition from secondary school to training as village Health Workers and in so doing, will address the acute shortage of female health workers in Borno state. It will integrate proven girls’ education strategies with innovative vocational interventions to build 240 adolescent girls’ career aspirations and academic achievement and will significantly increase the number of rural girls enrolling into the community village health service scheme in Borno state. The project will consist of components which will include:
  • A vocational training and practicums of 200 adolescent girls as Community village health workers at health facilities;
  • Training of existing 40 Community Village Health Extension Workers in supportive supervision of VHWs.
  • Provide monthly Safe space mentoring to enhance critical life skills
  • Collaborate with Borno State Government to start and institutionalize a Village Health Worker training for Rural Girls in Borno State.
The trained girls will be linked to local health facilities for practical trainings and learning and thereafter integrated in ongoing community health workers scheme. The trainings will constitute core training in family planning, child spacing, ante-natal attendance, child care, immunization and nutrition, especially with a focus on post pregnancy family planning.

OBJECTIVES

The strategic objectives of the program are to:
  1. a) provide second chance opportunities for adolescent girls affected by conflict in North East Nigeria;
  2. b) increase availability, deployment and retention of female health workers to deliver reproductive and maternal health services especially in rural communities of Borno;
  3. c) Empower adolescent girls and young women through education, mentorship and service.
The project will be implemented in Konduga, Gwoza and Bama. It is a 3 year project 2018-2020

TRAINING OF VHWS AT AGENCY FOR MASS LITERACY MAIDUGURI

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EMPOWERING RURAL ADOLESCENT GIRLS AS VILLAGE HEALTH WORKERS IN BORNO STATE, NIGERIA

Child Concerns (GCC) is presently implementing a health project in Borno with the goal of empowering young rural women as Village Health Workers in the state. This is aimed at addressing the poor state of adolescents and maternal health in the Boko Haram affected Borno state of Nigeria. The project is strengthening the agency, and voice of rural adolescent girls by supporting their transition from secondary school to training as village Health Workers and in so doing, addressing the acute shortage of female health workers in Borno communities.

The project which kicked off in December 2017 has integrated proven girls’ education strategies with innovative vocational interventions to build adolescent girls’ career aspirations and will significantly increase the number of rural girls enrolling into the community village health service scheme in Borno state.

OBJECTIVES

The target communities are Gwoza, Konduga and Bama and strategic objectives of the program are to:

  1. a) provide second chance opportunities for adolescent girls affected by conflict in North East Nigeria;
  2. b) increase availability, deployment and retention of female health workers to deliver reproductive and maternal health services especially in rural communities of Borno;
  3. c) Empower adolescent girls and young women through education, mentorship and service.

As at date, 246 VHWs have been trained by GCC and provided both practicum and didactic VHW skills, knowledge and information, while 38 CHEWshave been trained in supportive supervision and are being linked to local health facilities in their communities. The training curriculum was based on the approved National Primary Health Care Development Agency curriculum for Village Health Workers in Nigeria

Under the project, Girl Child Concerns (GCC) will address the poor state of adolescents and maternal health in Boko Haram affected Borno state of Nigeria. The project will strengthen the agency, and voice of rural adolescent girls by supporting their transition from secondary school to training as village Health Workers and in so doing, will address the acute shortage of female health workers in Borno state. It will integrate proven girls’ education strategies with innovative vocational interventions to build 240 adolescent girls’ career aspirations and academic achievement and will significantly increase the number of rural girls enrolling into the community village health service scheme in Borno state. The project will consist of components which will include:

  • A vocational training and practicums of 200 adolescent girls as Community village health workers at health facilities;
  • Training of existing 40 Community Village Health Extension Workers in supportive supervision of VHWs.
  • Provide monthly Safe space mentoring to enhance critical life skills
  • Collaborate with Borno State Government to start and institutionalize a Village Health Worker training for Rural Girls in Borno State.

The trained girls will be linked to local health facilities for practical trainings and learning and thereafter integrated in ongoing community health workers scheme. The trainings will constitute core training in family planning, child spacing, ante-natal attendance, child care, immunization and nutrition, especially with a focus on post pregnancy family planning.

OBJECTIVES

The strategic objectives of the program are to:

  1. a) provide second chance opportunities for adolescent girls affected by conflict in North East Nigeria;
  2. b) increase availability, deployment and retention of female health workers to deliver reproductive and maternal health services especially in rural communities of Borno;
  3. c) Empower adolescent girls and young women through education, mentorship and service.

The project will be implemented in Konduga, Gwoza and Bama. It is a 3 year project 2018-2020

TRAINING OF VHWS AT AGENCY FOR MASS LITERACY MAIDUGURI

 

 

 

 

MACARTHUR PROJECT

MACARTHUR PROJECT

NATIONAL HOME GROWN FEEDING PROGRAMME

PROMOTING ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY IN THE NATIONAL HOME GROWN SCHOOL FEEDING PROGRAM IN KADUNA STATE

Girl Child Concerns (GCC) is implementing an accountability and transparency project which is aimed at promoting accountability in the educational sector in Kaduna State through active monitoring of the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) in the state. The HGSFP is a joint social protection program of the federal government and State Governments. The HGSFP outcome of the tracking exercise will be shared with the leadership of Kaduna state and used to canvass improvement in transparency and accountability. This is particularly important in the current fiscal situation in the country and the Kaduna state government’s open acclamation of transparency and good governance

GOAL

The overall goal of the project is to promote accountability practices and transparency in resource allocation, distribution and management in the home grown school feeding program in Kaduna State

OBJECTIVE

To facilitate active participation of citizens and oversight of duty bearers and gatekeepers in ensuring the National Home Grown School Feeding program is properly executed and funds channeled to the program are judiciously utilized in Kaduna state.
To sensitize citizens about their service rights and responsibilities in education sector and provide them with strategy and access to demand accountability and good governance from service providers for the HGSFP.
To ensure provision of hygienic and healthy food in the schools in Kaduna state using home grown food by local farmers that will improve child nutrition.
Provide data and evidence to Kaduna state government to support them in improving monitoring and accountability in the use of public funds.
GCC is implementing the project in 70 primary schools under 6 LGAs (zaria, soba, kaduna north, kauru, chikun, kachia). It is a 3 year project 2018-2020

ADOLESCENT GIRL’S INITIATIVE

ADOLESCENT GIRLS

BRIEF ON THE PROJECT

Investing in girls’ education is one of the most leveraged and cost-effective investment that a nation can make. The Adolescent Girl’s Initiative is a scale-up of a program implemented by the Centre for Girls’ Education Zaria aimed at improving the social, economic and health wellbeing of rural and low income urban adolescent girls in Northern Nigeria through increased access to education, sexual reproductive health services and life skills.  The Adolescent Girl Initiative (AGI)—an expansion of the innovative girls’ program is aimed at keeping girls in school by improving their core academic performance through participation in mentored safe space girls clubs and providing opportunities for the girls to build trusting relationships and acquire critical sexual and reproductive health knowledge and life skills not currently offered in government education. AGI is designed to support girls as they progress from primary to junior secondary school—a critical time for school withdrawal and early marriage

 

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The Adolescent Girl Initiative model evolved over 8 years community-based research with rural girls, their parents and religious leaders by the Centre for Girls Education (CGE). A range of interventions was studied and the most promising was selected as the core of the Adolescent Girl Initiative.These are focused community engagement, mentored tutoring in safe space clubs, reduction of school fees or the provision of books, and support of female teachers. When these strategies were explored together during the pilot study in select schools, the participating girls’ transition rate from primary school to junior secondary increased from 25% to 97%. Moreover, secondary school graduation rates increased from 4% to 82%. A pilot programme targeting 400 girls was conducted in Zaria in 2015. The success of the pilot led to the present scale-up.

The Adolescent Girl Initiative anchored by Center for Girls Education (CGE), is supported by UNFPA and is targeting 9650 primary 6 adolescent girls, ages 10-14, living in Local Government Areas with high maternal mortality, early marriage, and out-of-school girls. The program is implemented by 3 organizations; Girl Child Concerns (GCC) in Kaduna, Centre for Girls Education (CGE) in Zaria and Nana in Kebbi state. So far GCC has reached 2,025 primary six pupils and is reaching 750 JS1 adolescent girls. Girl Child Concerns has so far implemented the Project in 2 Local government areas (Igabi and Kaduna South) in 9 secondary schools as well as 29 primary secondary schools. We have equally been able to reach over 140 female primary/secondary school teachers, parents, traditional and religious leaders in communities. The girls are mentored by female teachers in their schools once a week for two hours, after school closing hours. The intervention has equally through mentor trainings, strengthened the capacity and skills of the female primary school teachers mentioned, who have been selected and trained as mentors.

PROJECT GOAL

To contribute in improving the social, economic and health wellbeing of rural and low-income urban adolescent girls in Northern Nigeria and build their assets through increased access to education, sexual reproductive health information, services and life-skills that would positively impact on health choices.

OBJECTIVES

The specific objectives of the AGI in the two states are to:

  1. Increase girls’ secondary school enrolment, performance, and rates of graduation, thus delaying age of marriage;
  2. Expand opportunities for girls to acquire a broad range of relevant SRH and other life skills (e.g., self-expression and negotiation);
  • Develop leadership opportunities for adolescent girls;
  1. Enhance assets of girls including advocacy and communication;
  2. Refine and improve program effectiveness (through operations research); and,
  3. Increase the knowledge and skills of female teachers to mentor effectively.

Project activities are divided into three core components , designed to address parental concerns and build on lessons learned of key elements that improve girls retention. These 3 components are;

  • Reducing Social and Economic Barriers to Secondary School Enrolment and Completion through;
  • Enhancing Core Academic Competencies, Life Skills and Relevance of the Curriculum

Mentored Girls’ Safe Space Clubs

  • Developing and building Adolescent Girls’ Leadership

The program from inception has engaged local government education authority officials to ensure sustain. Program started in 2016 and was officially expected to endin December 2017 but a no cost extension has been secured and its rounding up in june 2018. for the finished product by GCC. As part of the mentoring, GCC also trains the scholarship beneficiaries in communication skills, computer application, paper presentation, group works and leadership training. For their voices to be heard, the youth need to be trained on how to communicate effectively and convey meaningful information to & with people, how to give good presentations, address stage fright and present the right message

KEKE COMMUNITY PROJECT

KEKE IS A COMMUNITY UNDER CHIKUN LGEA OF KADUNA STATE. &NBSP

The absence of a Health Care Centre within Keke community aggravates the challenges the women face in terms of accessing health facilities and commodities. Keke community is on the outskirts of the state with limited health care facilities and poor or most times absence of government infrastructure like schools, pipe-borne water, roads and electricity. To this end a demand creation approach was adopted by Girl Child Concerns to conduct advocacy to the local government to provide a health care centre and to sensitize the community on the need to advocate for and make use of a health centre.

 

Specific activities of the project included; advocacy visits to the local government officials, community and ward leaders;  community awareness programs for adolescent women on the importance of availing health services during pregnancy and other services for themselves and children, other services rendered by health centers;  Advocacy visits to the village head to champion a community initiative that will compel husbands to allow young mothers to access RMNCH services; Sensitizing older women (mother in-laws) and local mid-wives on the importance of encouraging younger women to avail the RMNCH services in the health centre and ANC. The project goal was to Increase access to RMNCH services for adolescent mothers in Keke B community of Chikun Local Government of Kaduna State.

 

Almost a year of unrelented Advocacy has finally started yielding positive results as the village Head of Keke donated part of his palace to be reconstructed, renovated and used as a clinic for the community. On her part the chairperson of Chikun Local Government Hajia Hadiza Ladi Yahuza during a visit to the community with GCC officials, supported in the renovation of the facility. She commended Girl Child Concerns for sustained advocacy and health awareness/ sensitization and health spaces offered to the people. She said she had also submitted the sample of polluted water from Keke which was reported to her office by Girl Child Concerns to the commissioner of water resources for analysis. Based on the report of water challenges she received from GCC, The Chairperson further pledged the sinking of an additional borehole to address the water shortage and poor water sources faced by the community. Already work has started on that. The Chairperson was optimistic that the Community will get a permanent Primary Health Care Center and also pledged to post medical personnel that will provideprofessional RMNCAH services at the clinic to the people of keke community.

SAVING THE GIRL CHILD

Living in a very safe environment where there is no fear, our lives and properties are secured is the wish of every individual. According to late Nelson Mandela, “safety and security don’t just happen; they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear”. That should be the utmost priority of every leader and government. In Nigeria, the girl child lives in fear of the unknown as she is faced with many challenges which include: child trafficking, rape, gender discrimination, illiteracy, early marriage, prostitution, unwanted pregnancies, abduction, domestic violence and so many others.

Most countries in the world see education as a basic human need and in Nigeria also, education is a basic human right that has been recognized since the 1948 adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Education is one of the fundamental rights of individuals. Unfortunately, so many young girls in most parts of the world are deprived of this opportunity, especially in Nigeria. The rate at which young girls drop out of school is worrisome and calls for concern. According to the Director-General of the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration, NIEPA, Prof. Lilian Salami, one third of all girls are out of school in Nigeria, amounting to over 5.5 million school age girls. The North is the worst hit as it has the highest number of female school dropouts.  Regrettably, the government’s investment in education is still low despite the significant impact of both national and international intervention in the sector to forestall this menace.

 

To this end, I implore the government to save the Nigerian girl child by providing free education for them because education bestows on women a disposition for a lifelong acquisition of knowledge, values, standards, attitudes, competence and skills. Let’s say no to illiteracy, no to early child marriage, no to prostitution, no to poverty, no to gender inequality and no to anything that has held women down. The young girls should be made to understand that they can be whatever they want to be.

Deborah Phillips is of the  Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano.