As some participants Go Home with Scholarship and Empowerment Offers
Let’s Save Her Initiative (LeSHI), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), in partnership with Fides Media, the Communications Directorate of the Catholic Diocese of Awka, has celebrated 2020 United Nations’ International Day of the Girl Child, a program put together to promote girl-child education.
In the celebration held at Archbishop A.K. Obiefuna Retreat, Pastoral and Conference Centre, Nodu, Okpuno, Awka, the Founder of LeSHI, Miss Mercy Hill, urged everyone to continually advocate for the rights of the girl child, noting that girl-child education must be taken serious.
In her speech at the event, Miss Hill reminded the audience that the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child was an opportunity to zoom in on the rights of the girl-child in the light of the United Nations’ theme for this year’s celebration, My Voice, Our Equal Future. She recounted how “adolescent girls face intersecting disadvantages because of their age, gender, ethnic background, sexual identity, religion affiliation, income, disability among other compounded factors”. She continued that “we have seen pictures, evoked images of girls in different situations that live with disadvantage, even without crisis”, adding that the “perception and reality of vulnerability arising out of these multiple intersecting factors really create that context of discrimination and differentiated impact of crisis”.
She recalled how during the heat of the coronavirus pandemic, cases of rape of young girls were recorded almost on daily basis. She reminded the audience of the case of Uwavera Omozuwa who was raped and murdered stood as a symbol of many other victims of rape insanity in Nigeria. She prayed that the eternal repose of the soul of Uwa and those other victims of rape in the bosom of God.
Miss Hill invited all to focus on how to educate and empower women and girls, exhorting that “women and girls are not only helpless victims, they are sources of power, power to cope, power to prevent, power to reduce risk, power for resilience and transformation and to build back better after crisis”. That is the power that we want to invoke and tap into, ‘ she concluded.
In his welcoming opening remarks Revd Fr Dr Martin Añusi, Director, Fides Media, challenged the girls never to see themselves as those who are made to play some secondary fiddle in the society. He said the occasion was to offer them opportunity to rise beyond the challenges of the obstacles our society has placed on the path of their true development and growth. Referring to the image of the name of the hall for the event, Resurrection Hall, he challenged the students that the occasion would offer them something to go home with; recalling that just as Christ overcame the obstacles of the stone with which his tomb was covered and rose, that they too could overcome the obstacles and distortions placed on their path by culture, religion, and society, to rise to the heights of their dreams and aspiration.
He expressed his gratitude to Miss Hill and her team for what he described as a wonderful initiative, pledging his support and that of Fides Media.
The schools that participated in the event were: Loretto Special Science Secondary School, Adazi-Nnukwu; St. John of God Secondary School, Awka; Kenneth Dike Memorial Secondary School, Awka; St. Jude Secondary School, Nando; Holy Spirit Secondary School, Ebenebe; and Sacred Heart Secondary School, Nteje. In attendance also were representatives of the various bodies. They include: National Association of the Catholic Corpers, NACC; Mary League Girls Association of the Catholic Diocese of Awka; Young Catholic Professionals, YCP, Archbishop A.K. Obiefuna Retreat, Pastoral & Conference Centre, Okpuno, Awka, among others. The students and other participants were treated to a number of mentoring and inspirational moments by the resource persons.
Among the highlights of the occasion were inspiring moments of mentorship by some outstanding girls who have been making it in their areas of passion and interest, as well as inspiring mentorship by the resource persons. Some of the girls who presented their skills and initiatives went home with offers of support and partial scholarship from some friends of LeSHI-FIDES celebration of the Girl Child. One of the beneficiaries was one Miss Favour Onyeji, an SS 2 student of St John of God Secondary School, Awka, and one Zita Ezeador, a participant from Federal Polytechnic, Oko, who also received empowerment offers on her products.
One of the participants at the programme, Judith Amos, a member of National Association of Catholic Corps Members, Anambra Chapter, who spoke to Fides, noted that she learnt a lot during the programme with emphasis on the health talk. “I learnt that my body is my pride”, she said, “and I am committed to taking good care of my body”.
The event, which ended with the presentation of certificates to invited student-participants as well as the giving of awards of recognition to resource persons, had in attendance: Mrs Ify Aronu-Okafor, Senior Special Assistant on Broadcasting to the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano; Mrs Amaka Ezeno Esq., of the Law Zoomer Chambers, Awka; Revd Fr Chetenna Jude Chukwuneke (Chaplain, St. Camillus de Lellis Catholic Chaplaincy, College of Health Sciences, Okofia, Nnewi and founder, YouthAlive Development Initiative, YADI, an NGO on youth empowerment); Mr Jude Atupulazi, Editor-in-Chief, Fides Media, Okpuno, Awka, among others.