Nov 20, 2020

Help Us Build a Digital Learning Institute for African Youth

It is often said that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonades out of it. COVID-19 is obviously a part of life's lemon that brought a halt to activities across every facet of society including education. Our Fellows who work in underserved communities in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria have had to adapt to the times and re-strategize to keep the learning going for students in Senior Secondary School (class) 3. The strategy was simple; take learning online using digital channels.

For a lot of the students, Facebook was the best option as other channels/Apps require much internet data and an android phone which most of them do not have. Facebook was generous enough to create a free feature that enables many of the students to participate with small phones without internet data. So the students were added to a group chat where they hold peer learnings on their core subjects including English, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, Civic education and others with support from our fellows. With this digital opportunity, we were able to revisit other modules in the curriculum such as values, time management, pathways (post-secondary school); and we are supporting them to apply these learnings for their personal and community development. Considering the realities of the pandemic, online learning has indeed become pertinent for the students as it helps to keep learning on-going and also make connecting with friends easier.

Our students are excited to be learning online; Abasifreke said "virtual learning is a dream come true"; instead of chit-chatting with friends online. Fola said "we have been coming together to share knowledge"; Matilda said it has helped her revisit her old notes.

Although the pandemic is gradually revealing that education in Nigeria is becoming a privilege rather than a right as it ought to be, we are putting in efforts to make this work for the underserved youth.

You can join us to beat the virus by supporting us to build a world-class digital centre which will increase the number of students who have access to a digital platform, provide more digital tools thereby exposing students to more opportunities to learn.

At the LEAP Institute, students will have access to a high-tech environment with top-notch training programmes on topical themes such as leadership, ethics, entrepreneurship and social development to enhance the leadership and management capacities of young people, trainers, educators and other professionals. Our goal is to ensure that every youth is inspired, empowered and equipped with the skills and tools for personal, organization and community transformation. We call to you today to join us to make this dream a reality.

Nov 10, 2020

The Burden of Teenage Pregnancy on a 16-year old

Victoria is a 16-year-old, student from Oron Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. As an adolescent in Junior Secondary School (JSS2), she watched her schoolmates drop out of school because of teenage pregnancy, and she became very burdened and unhappy. In 2015, worried and more concerned by the increasing menace especially as it grew bigger in her community, she thought of discussing the dangers of teenage pregnancy with her younger siblings. 

Victoria has four younger siblings, and she was determined not to allow teenage pregnancy to be her story or that of her siblings. However, she lacked the knowledge required and skills to pass on the information, and in addition to that, she was also shy. In her words, "I could not express myself"

Year after year she procrastinated on her idea and could not share the information to help her siblings - she felt her siblings would one day become a victim of teenage pregnancy simply because she didn't know how and what to say. 

Two years later, In 2017, when Victoria moved to Senior Secondary School (SS1), her dream of being able to educate and guide her younger siblings on Sexual Reproductive Health was close to becoming a reality. She was enrolled for the LEAP Africa iLEAD programme in her school. iLEAD is a leadership, life, employability and entrepreneurship skills programme designed to prepare students in public secondary schools with the skills they need to transition into higher education, paid jobs or entrepreneurship. Victoria was one of 90 students selected in her school and one of 450 students in Akwa Ibom state to participate in the iLEAD programme. 

The programme is designed with ‘a train the trainers’ approach where select youth corps members were posted to the participating schools in Akwa Ibom State like Victoria's school to train and mentor students. The programme is also designed to be experiential and experimental; young people are allowed to own and drive their learning process.

In 2018, a year after Victoria had gone through various training on leadership and life skills, she felt confident and equipped to commence conversations with her siblings. With support from her assigned iLEAD mentors and class teacher, Victoria had her first public speaking engagement on teenage pregnancy – her audience was her younger sibling. Soon after, other girls in the neighbourhood got to hear about her teaching and they reached out and indicated interest, she then started a ‘teenage pregnancy class’. Through the ‘Change Project’ component of the iLEAD programme, Victoria had gained requisite skills and knowledge in implementing impactful projects in her community. She realized that she could do more with her personal project of educating other young girls and that she could leverage on the strengths of her classmates too.

By the end of her SS2, Victoria’s dream of becoming an advocate against teenage pregnancy within her community had witnessed a ray of hope. Having experienced the possible impact of her efforts on her sibling friends and other girls, she was ready to scale.

Victoria and her friends went on to set up a programme in their school called the "Female Leadership Circle".  With a well-articulated vision, she stated: "Our aim is to educate and inspire young girls; equipping them with information on sexual health, teenage pregnancy, rape, sexual anatomy and many more". With adequate support from the school principal and teachers, they currently provide weekly training to over 150 students across the Junior Secondary School classes (JS 1 - JS 3).

Victoria’s aspiration is to provide girls in her school with sanitary pads upon graduation from Secondary School. Her long-term goal is to establish an orphanage home that takes care of girls. According to her, a good number of her peers who have gotten pregnant have either lost their parents or never knew their parents and are at the mercy of guardians or men who offer to provide them financial security.

Apart from her vision for girls, Victoria envisions becoming a food technologist. Assisting her mother to harvest maize and vegetables, with the hope that she would not have to touch the hoe and cutlass in future.

Right now, Victoria holds herself in high esteem; she knows her dreams are valid! In her words: "I am a world changer. I know my mission - I have a passion for the girl child. I can make a decision and choose a career path not looking at what others are doing or saying".

I have embraced a worthy vision for myself; my speech is graceful and intelligent; I am ready to serve humanity. I choose to use my influence positively at all times and in all situations. I have the wisdom to make good decisions. I need more hands to join me to put an end to teenage pregnancy”.

Nov 10, 2020

Supporting the Elderly, Women and Children.

With so many low-income families still grappling with the effect of the pandemic on their livelihoods, LEAP Africa has continued to mobilise support for the elderly, women and children; by empowering our network of social entrepreneurs across 12 states in Nigeria to cater to the basic needs of the vulnerable in communities where they work-sharing hope and love in bags of goodies; ensuring families do not go hungry for loss of economic power occasioned by the pandemic.

So far, we have reached 17,588 individuals mostly the vulnerable in underserved communities in 3,933 households across 56 communities and we are pressing forward to reach even more.

 

Agnes is a 65-years old widow who is a petty trader and depends mostly on gifts from generous people to go through the day. Since the pandemic broke out, it was difficult for her to, her source of income was cut short as she had spent the little she had saved to feed her family so she had resigned herself to fate. However, her hope came alive during one LEAP Africa’s outreaches to her community. On sighting the LEAP Africa COVID-19 Response team, she began to beam with smiles of relief as she headed towards the distribution area. After she received her package, with the help of her grandson, she placed the food box on his head; almost moved to tears, she prayed fervently for the sponsors. Her grandson was very excited and told the team that her grandma will not have to depend on anyone in the next few weeks before they can feed again.

 

From Amuwo Odofin, Amukoko, Oworonshoki, Ajegunle all in Lagos, to Ilorin, Kano, Osun, Delta; the echoes were the same everywhere our team visited. Many of the community dwellers said they were weighed down not just by the fear of the virus but the uncertainty of where their next meal would come from and how quickly life can return to semi-normal. They were happy to welcome the team and grateful for the foodstuffs, provision and groceries handed out to them in goody bags. 

 

In the words of Mother Theresa, ‘If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one’. 

 

With twelve states,  3,933 households and more than 17,588 individuals spread across 56 different communities; all of these would not have been possible without your donations and the generosity of people like you. 

If each one can reach one… no effort is too small.

You can join us and tell your friends to do more because we believe that together we can beat this.

Please visit, https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/covid-19-social-intervention-in-nigeria/?rf=progrept46418_150305 to contribute.

 

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much… Hellen Keller

 
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