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Female Bonding -The Solution.

2013 VOF WEEK 3
Female Bonding - The Solution
The girl-child by nature is vulnerable to all manner of abuse and violence especially in the formative years of her life. Statistics have shown that between 7-8 girls out of 10 are often taken advantage of before the age of 18 mostly by family members and a few unknown persons.
About five years ago precisely, one beautiful morning, i came across a young lady about 18 years old who requested to meet with me.
She was standing outside the gate of the building in which i live in. She had with her a mini travelling bag which suggests she had just arrived from a trip or probably was about to embark on one. She looked so tired with thick layers of bag rings underneath her eyes. I figured out that she needed help. But the type of help she needed was what i had no clue into. On a second thought, i thought of dismissing her so i could have my peace. But i couldn’t because it isn’t in my character to do such and if i did, i would have lost my peace anyway. So, i invited her into the house.
Her name is Amarachi from the eastern part of Nigeria. She was brought to the city by her late aunt after completion of her secondary school at age 16 to further her education. Upon her arrival in Lagos, she was converted into a maid, nanny and baby-sitter taking care of her aunt’s children. While she was doing this, she had been sexually violated by her Uncle severally and had threatened her never tell anyone about it. Unfortunately, the sad event of her aunt’s demise occurred and this launched her into another phase of sexual harassment which she was not ready to continue; especially after having been through 3 sessions of abortion for her Uncle.
To cut a long story short, she has been adopted by a family in the church. She has since gone back to school and is doing wonderfully. I see her regularly.
Most of the girls we see around in our communities most of the time perhaps may need us to give them a listening ear, a piece of advice and counsel that may help in shaping their dreams. This has been my major vision to the girls around. Until you hear them out, you can never know what is going on in their little worlds. So, i love to give every girl an opportunity to be heard before taking any step of action.
Most of the girls i see around in the community i live in are faced by diverse barriers ranging from; Cultural- obnoxious practices like female circumcision, Social- early marriages, Emotional – low self-esteem, lack of confidence, Economic constraints- poverty, religious and environmental. These barriers manifest in various ways and at different phases of their lives.
Speaking from my knowledge of faith-based organisations approach, we provide scholarship for most of such children through active participation in the Sunday school. Furthermore, we adopt each of such girls and give them a life-time opportunity to live a better lifestyle.
However, the major challenge confronting most girls in my community is access to funding. A great number of girls excel in their examinations only to discover that their parents cannot afford to foot the bills.
Cultural biases and socio-economic barriers are two major factors that prevent young women from accessing education in my community.
Our cultural believes and values vary and these go a long way to also affect our associations especially in accessing education. These cultural values could be lifestyle, mode of dressing and manner of conduct. Besides, the financial status of the family is a determinant factor.
Most of the time, the aftermath effect or impact of these barriers, are usually a low self-esteem, lack of confidence, inferiority complex and peer pressure. These equally have their toll on the recipients.
Most of us as well as others were able to overcome these barriers through the following way:
In the situation of economic constraints, where a family was unable to off-set school bills, the entire community or other family members contributed to assist a child at a time.
Talking about cultural and environmental factor, most of us went to missionary schools then. These type of schools were affordable and most of the children enrolled into such schools were from average families that were very conscious of their background and beliefs.
However, the fact still remains that our mothers joined several cooperative societies and saved monies for us to go to school.
We need each other to make things work out for us all!

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

Paulina Lawsin's picture

Congratulations for this

Congratulations for this comprehensively written article. You gave us a clearer picture of the different barriers that the girls face to have access to education. I particularly like the community solution of supporting one child at a time. Is it ongoing? How does it work?

Lastly, please allow me to quote you. Am posting it on my Facebook page.

Let's keep in touch.

LisaXi's picture

Because I am Girl- I Must Study

Hello,

Thank you for so vividly spotlighting the barriers you've seen in your community, for girls seeking education. In reviewing your journal entry I almost missed your attachment, but I am so glad I didn't. At the very end you had the following poem attached, and it resonated with me, so I decided to copy it here, so that others don't miss it.

BECAUSE I AM A GIRL – I MUST STUDY
A father asks his daughter:
Study ? Why should you study?
I have sons a plenty who can study
Girl, why should you study?

The daughter tells her father:
Since you ask, here’s why I must study.
Because I am a girl, I must study.

Long denied this right, I must study
For my dreams to take flight, I must study
Knowledge brings new light, so I must study
For the battles I must fight, I must study

To avoid destitution, I must study
To win independence, I must study
To fight frustration, I must study
To find inspiration, I must study

To fight men’s violence, I must study
To end my silence, I must study
To challenge patriarchy, I must study
To demolish all hierarchy, I must study

To mold a faith I can trust, I must study
To make laws that are just, I must study
To sweep centuries of dust, I must study
To challenge what I hate, I must study

To know right from wrong, I must study
To find a voice that is strong, I must study
To write feminist songs, I must study
To create a world where girls belong, I must study
Because I am a girl, I must study.

Kamla Bhasin

Hilda's picture

Thanks a lot LisaXi. That's

Thanks a lot LisaXi.

That's very thoughtful of you,
I appreciate.

Regards,
Hilda.

Dear Hilda,

I am deeply touched by your compassionate listening and respect to the young girl/woman faced with despair. A simple but powerful act you share is letting the girls tell their story before we jump into action validates her presence and authentic voice. So glad to hear Amarachi is doing well as you and the community came together to support her through life and education - BRAVO!

Thank you for being a strong, positive and dedicated advocate for these young girls to pursue education and fulfill their dreams. Please continue to inspire young women to not give up as they raise up and break the chain of oppression. You believe in them and their dreams and power of your poem, I AM A GIRL, I MUST STUDY.

With Gratitude,

Linda M. Ando

Flavia Nyadoi's picture

Nice of you

Hey Hilda,

I like your story as whole, as it brings out the challenges of girls clearly. You could share with us how you will engage further to reduce such chalenges in your community and Nigeria as a whole. Other wise you have done great work so far.

Continue with the spirit and be blessed.
Flavia.

Hilda's picture

At your service

Dear Flavia,
Just saw your comment tonite. Thanks. I also want you to know i am very much available to share on all the issues we have written on and to network as well.
Thanks once again.

Regards,
Hilda

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