What a year this has been! The global events that shook the world the conflicts, wars, bush fires, floods, volcanic eruptions, a cyclone, an earthquake, plane crashes, black lives matter protests, and several explosions in large cities. As if these disasters were not enough, the world was engulfed by a Pandemic.
Even here at home in Nigeria, this year has been one for the books with the importation of the COVID-19 virus and the inescapable lockdown in major cities.
We were already in the grip of an ASUU strike, which had cast university students across the nation adrift in a sea of uncertainty. The borders were closed, affecting businesses from Ikeja to Hadejia. The border closure brought about the inevitable increase in foodstuff prices, which caused hardships for so many families, culminating in the sacking of palliative care warehouses by an already frustrated nation.
All these issues were simultaneously happening amid the unrest in the North-East, the abduction of school children, the killing of aid workers, and the Nationwide End SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) protests’ fallout.
How does one have the time to prioritize the needs of the few when grappling with the needs of many? We asked ourselves this question when we saw the emergence of an ugly trend during the lockdown, which was branded as the “shadow pandemic”. We began to see a recorded increase in cases of gender-based violence in Nigeria. So we decided that something needed to be done, a response to one of the many challenges being faced by women and girls in this Pandemic to ensure the physical well-being and the mental health of women and girls preserved.
We launched YLF in Nigeria to respond to the challenges and needs we saw in our community in Zambuk. We saw the need to support women’s vocation so that they can provide for their families; we saw the need to bring hope to young girls by inspiring and supporting their education. So in 2020, with all the negative news home and abroad, here is an overview of what we were able to accomplish since our launch in July 2020:
When 1.53 billion students worldwide were out of school this year, YLF stepped in to provide free tutorials to girls and boys in Zambuk and its environs.
We also launched the 2nd Chance Initiative working with girls and women to develop and enhance their entrepreneurial skills by supporting them to learn vocations like tailoring and dressmaking or any skill they sought to develop.
The program also focused on providing the basic needed education to enable the beneficiaries start their businesses and adequately manage their finances. This successful pilot has opened the door to new possibilities, which we look forward to deploying on a larger scale in 2021.
In honor of the international day of the girl, we launched an essay writing competition with the theme “My Voice Our Equal Future.” We received so many entries from girls within and outside Gombe, all beautiful voices, united in purpose and the desire to see that all young girls in Nigeria live free from violence and harmful practices that hinder them from achieving their full potential.
16-year-old Maimuna Najat Aliyu Waziri,
from Darul Arqam Academy Gombe, emerged as the winner of the competition. We have decided to make this an annual event with bigger and better prizes, so look out for this in 2021!
We supported 490 families in the payment of PTA dues across schools in Yamaltu/ Deba LGA, Gombe State. This was to enable the students to get the extra facilities that the PTA dues support. Typically, parents agree to this levy to support school structures in their communities that struggle with funding so that the students will not be affected by the lack thereof. Due to the recession and the financial hardships endured in 2020, YLF saw the need to step in and lessen this burden. We hope to secure funding in this 2021 to do more to support school systems and learning.
We donated school uniforms to 150 pupils of Sirankiwo Primary School of Akko LGA in Gombe State.
For many children in Northern Nigeria the idea of school is a daunting endeavour. They begin by learning in a language they don’t understand, handicapped by the school books and tools they don’t have, and wearing clothes that make them stick out because they can’t afford the uniform. This simple yet defining gesture gave the pupils of this impoverished community a sense of self-worth, identity and purpose.
We are excited to take 2021 head-on, we know the year will present us with more opportunities to provide support and touch lives and we invite you to be part of this journey. We hope you will connect with us on all our social media platforms or through our website.
Let us know what type of support would make a difference to you. If you are interested in giving back, we welcome the extra set of hands (monetary contributions). We truly believe that every little bit helps and pushes us closer to achieving our goals of seeing that every woman and girl we encounter thrives.
Happy new year!