By Richard Akintade, Osogbo
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).
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, 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.
The participants were elated as they were given the opportunities to ask questions. 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.
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 moment of motivation and encouragement for the girls when Miss Peace Ayo Adegboola, the 16 year old girl child education advocate addressed the girls on ” Girl Child Education: Powerful Tool to End Poverty.”
Also, Hon Commissioner For Youths in Osun state, Hon. Mofoluke Adegboyega addressed the girls and charged the girls to ensure that they 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 is not neglected in the society.
The girls were also trained in 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 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.