We are happy to report our last summer training program for girls as we prepare for the 2018 summer program. So far, we were able to conduct our first skill-building course on hand silk screen-printing with 18 girls.
Our programs gives girls a hands-on experience while working alongside skilled professionals who will help them develop job skills and expose them to possible rewarding careers. When girls in our community participate in a GCAF programs, their confidence increases, they learn professional values like excellence, leadership, teamwork, respect, commitment and innovation.
GCAF strives to ensure that all programs are interesting, exciting and relevant to the real world.
Our summer programs harnesses inner strengths, talents and develops them into professional skills which girls can use to earn a living or support, provide their needs in turn reduce dependency, social ills that affect young women and girls.
As we work towards achieving our goals in educating girls, we also encourage young girls to take advantage of the long summer holiday to learn new skills for possible livelihood option. Not every girl can afford a holiday course. So we provide free holiday classes on various skills. In the last summer break, we were able to train about 18 girls In Enugu and Lagos states Nigeria.
We called in girls from the local schools and through the local radio station while most of the girls went on back to their villages with their parents. We had girls coming in from communities in Enugu and neighboring states like Ebonyi because, it was announced on the radio. We chose to work with a fewer number of girls who showed interest and were enthusiastic about learning new skills.
The girls were trained on a 3 –day workshop with topics around self-realization (self-determination knowledge), importance of social media in every student's life (access information, provide information and communication), body posture, and self-confidence.
Girls were asked to identify and list important social medial apps that are beneficial to today’s leadership and business. Prior to the workshop on importance of social media to student’s life, most of the girls did not know up to 2 social media apps. But by the end of the program, they had an idea on what they are used for and could list up to 10 that are beneficial to their studies.
In the remaining days of the summer program; they were taught to design, transfer and hand silkscreen on T-shirts. The girls were excited to write their words on their shirt, print on them successfully and put them on.
With their high energy and enthusiasm, girls were encouraged to be punctual, committed to their team during the sessions which made the holiday program worth the while. We look forwards to testimonials on how they have explored their new skills and learnings from the workshops.
We are particularly thankful for all the donors who supported us. We cannot take your resources for granted. We also want to thank those who gave in-kind supports during our programs like some of the equipment we used, the free drinks, the journalists who told our stories via the newspapers, television and radio.
While we are proud of all that we have accomplished so far with the summer class, we still have a long way to go in creating and developing safe spaces for girls to access quality education within the communities we serve around Nigeria.
Thank you for your support!
As a result of massive youth advocacy around the world, the United Nations in 2011 declared October 11 every year as the International Day of the Girl Child. The idea is to use the platform and galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.
In commemoration of this year’s edition in Nigeria, the Girl Child Art Foundation (GCAF), a non- profit organisation that provides life skill program opportunities to over 17,000 Nigerian girls, held a three-day session for students of the Vivian Fowler Memorial College, Lagos, with the hope of providing them with opportunities to discover their potential, dream and achieve a fulfilling future.
The event opened on Monday with a workshop where the girls talked about issues around their development and the impact they can make in the world. It also featured mentoring sessions for the young girls, as they were tutored on how to be courageous in the face of challenges, especially from the opposite sex.
On the Second Day, the girls gathered once again and put together all their thoughts, which they eventually painted into an art work on their school wall so that the message can live beyond the programme.
“This is part of our art projects; basically all the things that we do, we try to infuse art into it no matter the course we are pursuing in the organization. As part of the International day of the Girl, we planned a three-day event so that we can give space to produce the work. Whoever that comes around here can look at this work and see that there are issues to talk about concerning the girl child. The girls themselves, whenever they look at this work, it will give them inspiration to do more,” Ada, the founder of the foundation said.
Speaking to The Guardian after the programme, Ruth, one of the participants said, “It’s been very lovely; I learnt a lot of things. I’ve been enlightened on how to strike the word ‘can’t’ out of my vocabulary by always using ‘can.’ I’ve learnt how to distinguish between when feminists say we shouldn’t learn how to cook and do domestic chores; I’ve learnt how to be myself. I’ve learnt that other people are going through the same challenges we are facing here in Nigeria, but most importantly, I’ve learnt to donate to the wellbeing of the girl child,” she said.
For Ibukun the programme has taught her what it really means to be a girl child.“It made me realise that it means much more than just being a girl; it means much more than just being in all female school. Girls are much more different which means we have much more chances to impact the world in many ways.”
On the challenges being faced by girl child in Nigeria, Ronke noted, “my mum says that when somebody tells you, ‘you can’t,’ you have to realise that you can. So, when somebody tells you that you can’t, you have to use the anger that you get from it and turn it into a positive feeling that would make you work hard enough to get to that point they would say, ‘you can.’ And that’s what the opposite sex does to us, which is why we must have enough positive in us to change our anger into positivity,” she said.
For Chi, one of the participants, “Programmes like this will enable young women to have the confidence to do things that the opposite sex say they can’t do; they should be courageous to speak up. In our society, women and not taken serious like the men,” she said.
Lamenting on the rate of early marriage in the country, especially in the north, Chi said, “I don’t think it’s meant to be so; as a girl, you need education. If you educate a girl, you educate a nation. If I have the opportunity, I will make sure a girl becomes the president of Nigeria; women are not always given the opportunity and that’s why we are where we are today,” she said.
Though she believes in feminism, Chi is of the opinion that being a feminist has nothing to do with handling domestic chores. “You can cook for your family and at the same time achieve whatever you want to achieve in life. Some feminists think that they can do what men can do, so, they stop doing domestic duties. It’s like having two straight parallel lines; men are doing their things, women are doing their things. Being part of this event, I’ve learnt to be courageous and to speak up against anything negative. I’m not intimidated because girls are better managers than men; we are more organised,” she enthused.
On the importance of the Day of the Girl Child, Rashid said, “It makes me feel extremely proud of myself; being a girl is extremely hard because you always have to explain yourself. It makes me feel that we are recognised as human beings too, not just as mothers, housewives or caretakers of babies. It makes me feel that we actually have an impact in the society.”
To the organisers of the workshop, she said, “I want to thank them for a job well done; I didn’t expect to see an organisation that is trying to help the girl child. Being a certain type of gender, we as girls need a certain kind of care. You hear cases about physical and sexual abuse everyday; it’s a norm thing in Nigeria. Some of these girls have gone through a lot of things that make them so hard and they are angry at the world. So, it’s good to see that we have organisations that are reaching out to girls and helping them actualise their dreams,” she said.
For Yewande, the International Day for the Girl Child has given girls the opportunity to showcase their real power.“This is our opportunity to prove that we can really standout. The true saying is that behind every successful man, there’s a woman. But today, we are saying that we can actually be who we are; we don’t necessarily have to come behind somebody else. This is a day for us to show that we are girls, we have power and we are immune to any kind of abuse or shame, that nobody can bring us down,” she said.
Yewande, who lamented the ill treatments meted on the girl child, especially in Africa, said, “I think the society takes us to be materials; they don’t allow us to express ourselves. Most families don’t want to send their girl children to school; they prefer to send the boys because they feel they are the ones to carry the family name. They don’t allow the girl child to actually find herself; that’s why you don’t see women on top in Nigeria.”
To the government, she said, “they should create more awareness on the power of the girl child; they should allow us to express ourselves and try new things. Every woman is made with a brain and we can actually think if they allow us to use our full potentials.”
But to Nkiru, being a girl child is like being special and unique.“There are a lot of things we the girls know how to do, but the society is just like enclosing us, making us feel like we are limited. Sometimes, the society thinks that the men are more superior, but we are still all equal. For me, being a girl child is about being powerful and special.”
On the impact of the prgramme, she said, “I feel special because there were a lot of people they could have selected instead of me. So, I feel like there’s something that is me that really need to be part of the programme. Being part of this project has taught me that being a girl child is joyful; I’ve learnt that the world shouldn’t enclose us and make us feel that we are nothing,” she said.
While commending the foundation for finding time to create a programme that helps in spreading information about the girl child and her importance to the society, Timi urged government to pay more attention to challenges facing the girls.
“I want the government to listen to the girls; I feel like they don’t listen to us. They make us look unimportant and they should put the girls in school, feed them and give them shelter,” she said.
Greetings from Girl Child Art Foundation.
“One extra year of secondary school increases a girls’ futures wages by up to 25%”. - World bank.
I am sharing with you a success story of our Girl’s Leadership clubs.
Over the years we have worked on several projects with the aim of improving the education and future of vulnerable girls in Nigerian communities. Our projects have covered areas such as the use of Art to advocate for education, promote the sexual reproductive health and development of girls in and out of schools in Nigeria. Our strength has always been in the provision of free, friendly training class on various topics, targeting girls and youth in local communities.
However, over time we have learnt to cut unnecessary costs and make more impact. We decided to reach more girls and more rural communities through school clubs with the help of our volunteers and staff. Since the second half of 2016, we started visiting girl’s schools and co-educational schools to establish our clubs. We have been able to reach 42 schools in 3 states of Nigeria- Enugu, Ebonyi, and Lagos. These volunteers reach out to the school principals, book a time with the principal to enlighten the girls on our goals. When the girls indicate interest in our programs, they enroll for free. We also identify with teachers in the school who qualify as educators for the club. Quarterly trainings are done for the educators from various schools to ensure they work in line with our vision.
In our years of working with Nigerian girls from various cultures and family structures, some of the few common issues we have observed that most girls’ dreams are suppressed through either pressure from family, living conditions, poverty, battered self-esteem, early marriage, sexual abuse, and no access to information. Giving girls a voice and helping them discover new opportunities will encourage them to complete or further their education, building support groups and DREAM BIG.
With the clubs we are able to reach more girls in need for psycho-social support, build confidence through our art classes, career counseling, provide opportunities through ICT, and help with needs as small as sanitary pads.
New girl members of the various clubs are also able to share their stories including their experiences at home and school. We interviewed 350 girls from various communities and they shared their experiences:
-35% got negative pressure from family that affect their ability to concentrate in school e.g. parents fighting, fathers beating their mothers, some live with people as house helps, illiterate parents wanting them to stop school for trade.
-15% shared that poverty related problems like distance from school, inability to afford school fees or entrance exam fees to senior class or college, no money to transport them to school, combined with chores and walking to school daily are challenges they have to deal with.
-18% had battered self-esteem caused by sexual harassment from male teachers, male students, heartbreaks from transactional and non-transactional sexual relationships etc.
-12% of the girls are forced to drop out of school for early marriage.
20% had little or none of these issues mentioned but they needed a support group.
So far, your donations have helped us reach about 8,653 girls in 42 schools through our school outreach programs, pay school fees for 6 girls who nearly dropped out of school. Your donations have also helped in transporting volunteers to the various communities, buy learning materials for our outreach programs, art materials for our free training classes, and conduct 1 free basic training on computer skill and screen-printing summer classes for 35 girls.
In conclusion, most of the girls do not know what to do. There is more to life that affect girls’ academic success rate. These issues are not usually taught or discussed in the school curriculum. This is where we come in as a club so that girls can share their experiences, information, learn new life skills, develop their talents, build confidence and look forward to a brighter future.
In weeks of participating in our club activities, we have seen the self-confidence in the girls while interacting with them. They are now taking their education seriously to be amongst future business leaders, which is the most important aspect of what we are aiming.
BIG THANKS for those of you who donated with swift response when we called for help. There are lots of girls with the need to know the right steps to take in order to attain a good education. Your generous support will change someone’s life.
We ask that you share our campaign with your network of friends and colleagues. We also welcome your professional support and volunteer services in areas you think you can be of help.
YOU GUYS ROCK!
A young girl started this organization in 2003 because she wanted to create a friendly learning environment that inspires girl to reach great heights, break stereotypes and succeed in life above all barriers. I want to share a bit of her personal experience that inspired the organization.
Ada Onyejike Ananaba the founder of GCAF is the first child of 8 children -6girls and 2 boys as the last, she was automatically the caregiver for her numerous siblings. Her father was a medical doctor and mothers a health scientist (teacher). Despite their education, she watched them look for a male child, as they believed by culture that the female children would not keep the family name or lineage. According to her cultural beliefs, the 6 girls will be disinherited while everything her father owned was for the 2 boys. Amidst all, she was to also study sciences and become a medical doctor or pharmacist else she was seen as not intelligent. Back in school her performance as a science student was also not exceptional and she was sent out of Chemistry and mathematics classes as she scribbled on her books during classes and missed my geography class to attend arts classes as a science student. Nobody cared about what exactly she wanted to be in future. She was not allowed to make her choices.
Before she graduated from School, she has been passionate about providing platform for educating and inspiring in and out of schoolgirls. Then in 2001 the idea of Girl Child Art Foundation (GCAF) was born. Since then, she has been welcomed into many homes in Nigeria, met countless number of girls who are looking for someone to listen and give them a voice, give them freedom to express themselves and freedom to do something and not be judged as doing it wrong.
It has not been an easy journey, we have failed countless times but we have never lost focus or courage. From our part of Africa it is a priority for most schools and parents to insist that their pupils or wards study sciences. So we have failed already by mentioning arts in our name –Art Foundation’. In some cases some principals of school would stop us from the school gate saying things like—we don’t encourage ARTs here. While some parents on hearing or name would just conclude that we are a distraction to the children’s education. But to the contrary GCAF through her programs has trained, built the self esteem and confidence of over 6,000 girls who are scientists, lawyers, accountants, artists and very dynamic successful girls who proudly testify positively to our impact in their lives, careers, performances and confidence.
Our membership started by calling 8 girl-children in Enugu state Nigeria, in a school compound and under a tree. Then we trained girls on issues around their development using ‘’paintings, dance and Drama ’’. Over the years we have worked on several projects with the aim of improving the condition of future women and vulnerable youth in Nigerian communities. Our strength has always been in the provision of free friendly training class on various topics, targeting girls and youth in the local communities. Our projects have covered areas such as the use of Art to advocate for education, promote the sexual reproductive health and development of girls and youth in various communities in Nigeria. Over 90% of our graduates today a University graduates and most of them are still aiming for high goals.
Access to funding through grant making agencies including the UN agencies was an area we failed in. We didn’t get funding because our approach- (Creative arts/ Life skills) and focus- Girls was not trending areas of focus for most grant making organization. They where concerned about women empowerment, rights of women and not girls. What we do didn’t fit into the narrative that they report. So we never got funding, but we looked for alternative ways to support our work through individual donors, sales of products made but the girls, fundraising events. Finally, we got our first grant in 2005 through the US mission in Nigeria.
Lack of access to skill development centers, youth friendly learning environments and inability to afford skill development afterschool programs are some of the areas we can help break down barriers. No segment of the society faces more exploitation, and injustice like women and girls. Today we are happy to know the UN has decided to pay attention to girls and it is developing into a worldwide movement. World leaders, economists, and policy makers all recognize that an adolescent girl is the most powerful force for change, yet less than 1% of international aid is invested in her. We are happy that we no more sound odd when we talk about girls.
GCAF believes that creating an arena or forum for girls will contribute to the empowerment of young girls, as this will encourage them to compete with each other and not with boys. The organisation believes that girls will tend to lean on boys when tasks need to be achieved, but will be more competitive around girls. With years of experience we have learnt better ways to negotiate opportunities, how to manage our branch offices/ youth centers, how to manage our staff including volunteers. These experiences are learnt from series of trial and failures till we get it right. “We just do it anyways, no impossibilities in our dictionary, We learn from what we try-simple”.
The organisation uses the arts as part of this process, since the arts are believed to promote personal creativity and expression. Girls are encouraged to play music, dance, sing, and teach people through their works, paintings, write-ups, and poems. This in turn encourages the development of confidence, independence, and self-esteem, which is, ultimately, the aim of the organisation.
Initially we could not communicate our impact right, but we have learnt with experience to continue to learn to tell our stories with clear indicators. We learn everyday. Another lesson is to stay true to the real story behind the initiative, why we where formed, what do we want to achieve and what have we done so far? These questions no matter has we diversify our approach keeps us in check.
Girl Child Art Foundation (GCAF) is a non- profit organisation that provides life skill program opportunities to over 17,000 Nigerian girls. Each year we educate and inspire more than 3,000 African young women through art.
GCAF utilizes all forms of art as a tool for promoting social rights and equipping the girl child (young girls between the ages 8-25) with skills to be independent.
The vision is to provide African girls with opportunities to discover their potential, dream and achieve a fulfilling future.
“Young women and girls are the core of GCAF programs. They are the reason GCAF was formed, we have reached more than 250,000 directly and indirectly and we strive to reach more”.
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