By Gabriel Olawale
Not less than 10,000 adolescent girls from nine communities in Ado Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State have been trained by the Society for Family Health, SFH, on how to live a healthy life as well as create the brighter future they desire.
The capacity-building program for the in and out-of-school children was implemented by Society for Family Health with funding from TotalEnergies and partners. The exercise also equipped mothers with skills to improve their relationship with their teenage daughters.
Speaking at the end of the first phase of the project titled, ‘Adolescent 360- TotalEnergies Health & Economic Empowerment Project (A360- THEEP)’, SFH Deputy Managing Director, Programmes and Strategy, Dr. Jennifer Anyanti said that the project was implemented to empower girls with skills to make healthy choices and create the future they want in achieving their dreams.
She added that mothers were also trained on how to improve their relationship with their daughters and promote meaningful engagement.
“The A360-THEEP Project was adapted from the existing A360 9JA Girls Program for unmarried girls which uses a life mapping exercise and vocational training as an entry point for conversations about reproductive health and achieving life goals.
“The project focuses on adolescent girls between the age of 15 to 19 years and their mothers. During the Love, Life, and Health Skill Classes (LLH), adolescent girls were trained on menstrual hygiene, HIV/AID counseling& testing, STI syndromic treatment and management, and mental and Sexual Health. They also acquired different vocational skills, ranging from personal care products, liquid soap making, air fresheners, and make-up among others.
“During the Mums sessions, women leaders from the nine communities were identified and trained to anchor sessions with mothers. Every mother of a female teenager in the community was targeted for these sessions.” She said.
Corroborating her views, Head, Project Support Unit Society for Family Health, Pharm. Jane Adizue, said that the choice of young girls for the project was in line with the popular slogan, Catch them young and watch them grow.
On her part, the Business Development & Projects Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility for TotalEnergies, Mrs. Moyosola Areola said that following a thorough needs assessment, TotalEnergies and partners collaborated with SFH to develop the Adolescent 360-TotalEnergies Health and Economic empowerment Project which targets young adolescent girls between the ages of 15-19 years by leveraging on sustainable development goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 17.
Moyosola explained that due to patriarchal practices in society, women are known to be disadvantaged in negotiating economic and sexual positions that most times determine the outcome of their life journey, thus exposing them to poverty and health risks.
State Programme Manager for the project, Ibrahim Hamzat Ibrahim said that 12,449 girls were reached by mobilizers while 7,272 girls attended the programme and 2,962 girls attended LLH classes.
“The total of girls referred to the facilities was 5,675 while 3,776 accessed care. 2,834 girls were counselled while 274 girls were treated for STI.”
Some of the beneficiaries of the programme who shared their experience with Vanguard Newspaper expressed excitement over the positive changes they are experiencing.
An SS3 student with a seven-month-old baby, Akintan Aishat from Igbesa Community, said that she had made some bad decisions in the past, but through the skills acquired during the programme her dream of becoming a doctor can still come to pass.
“My dream is to become a medical doctor despite having a child at an early age, but I don’t know how I can achieve it. With the skills I have acquired during this programme, I am very confident that it will come to pass.”
Fatimoh Fatoye from Ewupe Community also shared how the skills acquired have transformed her life. “I never knew I could earn a living while still studying at school. Since I learnt how to make Vaseline and Knot Gele (Traditional head gear) I have found creative ways to make money without doing something immoral.
“Aside from Vaseline making and GeleKnotting, I also learned Soap Making and Beauty Make-Up. What this means is that, aside from trying to have a good score at school, I also have an opportunity to practice other things that are useful in life.
“I have learned how to handle myself as a girl, my personal hygiene and the need to stay away from bad friends that can put me in trouble, especially with boys. My parents have learnt to trust me and allow me to invite my friends to our house.”
Mrs Bolanle Alaka who participated in ‘Mums Session’ at Ifelewa Community, said that the programme improved her relationship with her daughter. I used to be at logger-heads with my daughter who is 17 years old.
“So when she told me about this programme, I initially had my doubts about her attending it. But when I began to notice positive changes in the way she behaves towards me, I was curious to know what they were being taught. That was how I got to know about the Mums’ session and decided to participate.
“Until I started attending the Mums Session, I didn’t realize that I had a lot of role to play in the way my daughter was behaving. I thought I was being a disciplinarian, but I soon realized it was better to be a friend to my children than to act like a boss around them.”
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