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.
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.