One of our cardinal objectives is to help both school girls and adolescent mothers gain economic power so they can stand tall against all form of pressures and intimidations to trade their bodies for money. This we continually seek to achieve through opportunities for vocational skills acquisition and training.
And so, we recently embarked on a one-day tour to different skill acquisition centers where we had been offered free training opportunity. We hired a bus to take us round and trust me, many of the girls arrived quite early. They were eager to skip breakfast at home, eager to learn and much more eager to be empowered. In attendance were excited school girls, out of school teenagers and adolescent mothers.
It was such fun as we went around and stopped over at four training centers. Some of the vocations learnt include- how to make hats/fascinators, how to manage plastic waste, how to bake cake/snacks and how to make soaps, insecticide, air-freshner and vaseline.
This rare privilege was indeed appreciated by our girls and adolescent mothers but many were also bothered that they cannot put to use what they have learnt due to lack of start-up capital. Some of the young mothers that had earlier learnt how to make bar soap testified to how they are able to market their products and make double of what is invested over a period of time. But many are unable to do same because they simply do not have the cash to buy needed materials.
On our part, it has been tough getting seed grants for them to start. The little we are able to garner goes into our scholarship project in order to keep the girls and other vulnerable children in school. We virtually have to pay school fees each term. Of course it is a tall order but we must encourage and support our girls to get good education. Unfortunately, many are not able to get into public school because there is currently an embargo on admission for those seeking to change from private to public school. Admission to public school is only available to freshers- those starting from JSS1.
This leaves us with no choice but to continue to pay school fees for many of our wards that are in private schools. And the effect is that we are unable to support our out of school girls/adolescent mothers with seed grants to start their businesses. And because of this, many of our young mums have remained poor and unable to cater for their families.
In spite of the huge challenge, our girls are excited to learn and hopeful that they will soon scale this financial hurdle and stand on their feet as small-scale entrepreneurs. We are holding on! We are seeking help! We will continue to encourage them! We must keep hope alive!!!