Blessing Oladunjoye reports from Kenya
Global Fund for Children, GFC has gathered together partners working on girl child education from across Africa for partners convening in Kenya.
The four day program featured GFC’s partners who work on Girls Orientated programs and they include; Achievers Ghana; Samburu Girls Foundation, Kenya; Centre for Development Initiative, Ghana; Nyanza Initiative for Girls Education and Empowerment, Kenya; Action for Children, Tanzania; Girls Leading our World Initiative, Kenya; Malaika Kalebuka, DR Congo; Child and Youth Protection Foundation, CYPF Nigeria; and Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection, CEE-HOPE Nigeria.
The program which held in Athi River, Kenya was themed, “Incorporating Girls and Community Voices for Innovation and Sustainability” and captured Strategic Planning for effective grasrrots programming.
The crux of the conversation was about ‘Sustainability’ and to drive that, girls need to be put at the centre of the activities.
Facilitating the training session, Brandt Christen, Co-founder, She’s the First, an International NGO that believes in girls deciding for their future said it is important that girls are consulted before designing any program for them. According to her, “Girls are their own expert and they know what’s best for them.”
Christen encouraged NGOs focused on girls oriented programs to always consider it as a prerequisite to always engage girls adding that because programs are designed for girls does not mean they are for girls if they lack the girls inputs.
Kate Kiama, Programs Manager, Akili Dada, a Swahili word which means ‘brain sister’ also buttressed on the need to consider girls as the experts on their own issue.
Speaking about the lessons learnt and how to incorporate it back in their country, one of the participants, Danikuu Alexis of Centre for Development Initiatives, Ghana described the convening as a unique opportunity to connect with like-minded organizations working in the areas of girl education adding that it was a common platform for sharing, learning and strategizing for improvement and innovation in girls centered programs designing, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
“It was not just about theory but practical illustrations and ability for sober reflection on some of our strategies and how to improve. Networking for continue learning and improvement.
“During the convening, I learnt the common problems we shared and different dimensions in barriers to girls centered programs and also the different strategies in dealing with the issues among which is the need to be innovative always”, Danikuu added.
Dickson Lukumay from Action for Children in Tanzania described the training as an impactful one which would improve his mode of operations and programming back in Tanzania.
Amadu Mohammed of Ahievers Ghana said “the training was a great experience and an avenue to critical opportunity to reflect and focus on doing community led empowerment programming.
For his part, Kolawole Olatosimi, Founder Children and Youth Protection foundation, CYPF Nigeria described the convening as a very good program as it creates platform to meet people working in the same area of interest. It affords one the opportunity to learn from others and also to network.
Olatosimi while sharing the key lessons learnt said, “it is very important to understand that the girls we are supporting are really the experts in their situation and we must listen to them more.”
He noted that following the impact of the convening, “as an organization, we will be increasing our engagement with the girls we are supporting and ensure that we design programs in line with their interest. To also achieve self care which drives productivity as we’ve learnt, we will ensure that staff and volunteers have enough time to take care of themselves and also create leisure time during work hours.
Speaking at the end of the four day convening, Bundie Kabanze, GFC Program Officer, Africa urged partners to ensure they have a robust and trust based relationship with their funder which according to him will be to the benefit of their organizations.
For his part, Alexander Kyerematen, GFC Regional Director, Africa, spoke on the need for partners to work together in harmony towards achieving tremendous impact compared to when working individually. He urged participants at the convening to see areas of interests of each partners and see possible ways of collaboration even if not within the same country.
The four day meeting was concluded with a team building exercise, which illustrated the impact of asking the right questions, communication, trust, decision making and leveraging on strength and weaknesses of all, in achieving organization’s goals and objectives.