A non governmental organisation based in Osun state, Value Female Network (VFN) has held the second edition of its annual Adolescent Boot Camp where it trained and empowered over 350 girls across Osun state for three days.
The 3-day boot camp programme designed for the teenage girls that included in and out of school girls, hard to reach areas in the state and communities with high prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) started fully on Friday, November 23 and ended on Sunday, November 25.
At the camp, FGM was extensively dealt with as the participants unanimously agreed to commence strong advocacy against the deadly practice.
The young female participants called for the stoppage of FGM saying it has no benefit.
Tagged “Her Roles In Sustainability (HEROES), the boot camp exercise was held at the premises of Baptist High School, Gbodofon, Osogbo.
Addressing journalists at the grand finale of the camp on Sunday, the Executive Director of VFN, Costly Aderibigbe said out of the 350 adolescent girls that participated at the programme, about 200 of them were camped while others joined activities from their respective homes.
She said the programme was birthed to empower and train the girls, free of charge, on how to be useful in the society, know their rights, get empowered with life and vocational skills and be exposed to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights information including Sustainable Development Goals.
According to Aderibigbe, over 50 volunteers had been trained on how to handle the girls during the camping exercise before the youthful volunteers arrived camp on Thursday, November 22, 2018 to get the hostels, halls and others things ready for the arrival of the participants the next day.
” When the participants arrived camp on Friday, November 23, they moved to the registration stand where volunteers attended to them before they occupied the halls for events of the day. The participants were fed free of charge throughout the three day boot camp.
“After the participants introduced themselves, they were engaged on career talks where a team of professionals including a medical doctor, lawyer, engineer and community development worker addressed them and gave them insights on how they can advance their career and dream courses at the tertiary institutions of learning.
The participants were elated as they were given the opportunities to ask questions. Another speaker, Ayo Bello spoke on ” Roles of Girls in Ending Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Also speaking on “Ending FGM in Nigeria, Osun State as a Case Study,” Mr. Ademola Adex, founder of VARCE NGO, bemoaned the high prevalence of female mutilation in the state and exposed the dangers of the practice to the participants.
After this session, an expert on Gender Based Violence and Sexual Reproductive Health and Right (SRHR), Elizabeth Williams took the girls on FGM advocacy training.
In order for the girls to have a more practical analysis of the topics, another speakers, Dr. Esther Somefun from the United Nations Population Funds, Nigeria, anchored a panel session in bursting the myths around SRHR using story telling tools.
To allow the girls to feel more relax and learn at the same time, a movie titled “Beyond Disability” was viewed as the participants took active roles in the movie filled with suspense and moral.
“After the participants had their morning exercise/body fitness, cleaned their hostels and took their breakfast on the second day, Saturday November 24, they resumed other activities with interactive sessions/trainings.
One of the speakers, Margaret Bolaji, a global advocate for Family Planning, 120Under40 winner and Youth advisor for Nigerian Urban and Reproductive Health, took the girls through life planning for adolescent girls.
There was a better moment of motivation and encouragement for the girls when Miss Peace Ayo Adegboola, the 16 year old girl child education advocate who addressed the girls on ” Girl Child Education: Powerful Tool to End Poverty.”
At this session, the participants were divided into groups where they were asked to highlight challenges facing girl child education and proffer solutions. This was done as the representative of each group read out the outcome of their group assignments.
Also, Hon Commissioner For Youths in Osun state, Hon. Mofoluke Adegboyega addressed the girls and charged the girls to ensure that they shun shun waywardness and immoral behaviours that are capable of truncating their futures.
Hon. Adegboyega appreciated the passion in VFN towards ensuring that the girl child are not neglected in the society.
Meanwhile, the girls were trained on how to defend themselves when faced with rape attempts. Training the girls on Self Defence after addressing them on Sexual Abuse and Rape, the executive director of Stand To End Rape, Osowobi Ayodeji Oluwaseun urged the participants to always avoid occasions that could make them more vulnerable to sexual assault.
Osowobi tasked the girls to always report attempts of rape and refrain from concealing the information.
The participants were exposed to Networking and how to be economically empowered by Eddy Uwoghiren, founder, Life Savers Initiative For First AID Education Nigeria. After his presentation, the girls practicalised the networking tips and asked questions of which answers were provided for.
The interesting social part of the camp was when the participants from over twenty schools in Osun dropped their books and laced their shoes for Saturday bonfire night where they had fun by dancing and engaging themselves in all sorts of decent social competitions.
The adolescent boot camp came to an end on Sunday after the participants and volunteers received their Certificates of Participation and took photographs.
Speaking with a participant from Laro Middle School, Osogbo, Precious Beauty, she said the camp impacted greatly in her and that it was highly interesting and gainful.
According to her, “I feel so delighted to be one of the girls privileged to attend this year’s Adolescent Boot Camp. It has really been a great opportunity to be here . Out of the thousands of girls out there, I am privileged to benefit from this free life-transforming exercise. I want to thank VFN for impacting into me and other participants. I have learnt that the brain has no gender and that I can become what I want to be. I will forever remember this.
For another participant, Bakare Ganiyat, she would have had teenage pregnancy of not for VFN’s Heroes Club that always bring into my consciousness the dangers of premarital sex and other issues surrounding the girl child.
” This adolescent boot camp is a blessing to me because the experiences, interactions and trainings were helpful. I attended the first edition of the boot camp and that was why I told myself that I would jot miss the second edition. I have networked among other participants and have known the dangers of FGM.
“I therefore want to use this medium to join my voice in saying that FGM should be stopped. It’s very deadly and has no benefit for the girls. Our parents should stop cutting us,” Ganiyat said.
A volunteer, Yagboyaaju Moriike shared his experience on the project saying that “I am happy to sacrifice my resources, time and energy for these girls. This is part of what I owe the society and I can’t thank VFN enough for giving me the privilege to volunteer.
Another volunteer, Jennifer Anuforo said though the volunteering was tiresome, what kept her going was the excitement and gains of the camping exercise.
VFN therefore hoped that the next edition in 2019 would have close to a thousand participants as it called for supports from international organisations and philanthropic individuals.