I am on a mission to educate and empower girls in rural communities. This, I do through offering scholarships to underprivileged girls and most importantly, creating what we call Girls' Lead Clubs in rural secondary school to educate girls on their rights, impact them with knowledge on sexual and reproductive health, arm them with leadership skills, and encourage them to take up public speaking responsibilities without fear. This strategy, is to help cut down on teenage pregnancies, early marriages, contracting HIV and other STIs while at the same time, encouraging education and leadership for girls, and securing financial independence for girls who will grow into women in the long run. Poised to achieve this goal of moving from school to school, a major set back has hit my country, which is standing in the way of me achieving my goal -- but I am not scared, because I always device a plan B when plan A fails. The teachers of my country have been on a sit-in strike for five weeks, and so there has been no school going on for the last five weeks in the anglophone regions of my country. How then am I going to achieve my goal of setting up Girls' Lead Clubs in rural secondary schools, I asked myself. The big answer came to mind.
This Christmas holidays, I set out to gather school girls in the village in my father's house and create the club there. While gathering them everyday for a number of days, I used our manual to teach them all the modules of our manual and also keep them busy by teaching them how to make different products out of beads. This was the most exciting part for the girls as they would arrive earlier than scheduled time, and leave later than closing time. They produced different types of necklaces, with free materials I provided them, and they even sold some to their mothers, sisters, and community members. This was intended to occupy the girls during this holidays and strike period so that they wouldn't make unnecessary visits that may end up with them getting pregnant, infected and even prematurely married.
Setting up the club, and impacting the girls with skills for income generation was very satisfying, knowing that they can use the knowledge to grow and the skills to raise funds to support their education in one way or the other during their spare time. Their parents, on hearing and seeing what their children brought home as beads product, flooded my father's house to thank me, and to encourage me to do more things for the girls.
As the strike action continues in Cameroon, the mission of empowering girls in their local communities and creating the Girls' Lead Club will continue, because this is a critical time in the lives of the girls as they are out of school. If we can do this, then we will be sure to cut the number of pregnancies, early marriage, infections, and even deaths during this long break in our village communities.
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