LIVING LIFE AS A GIRL ADVOCATE.
Written by~ Victoria Olanrewaju Benedict, Girl Advocate.
My name is Victoria Olanrewaju Benedict. I am a Girl Advocate in the Girls Voices Initiative programme and even in the world at large and right now I want to share my journey with you.
Joining the GVI programme is one of the best things that has happened to me, it's one of the opportunities I'd forever appreciate and that's why before we go on this journey together, I'd like to say a very big thank you to Rise Up and Action Health Incorporated for allowing me to be a part of this programme and for creating a change in my own life and in the community my group is working in. We really appreciate you.
My Group's advocacy, which is based on young Girls Being Married Off In Makoko And Engaged In Economic Activities Instead Of going to School. hasn't been so easy and it has been so tasking.
Sincerely speaking, we have faced and conquered various challenges, but that what keeps pushing us on and pushing us to do better. we have had to face challenges like lack of effective communication. i.e when we went for our research at Makoko we were having issues with people not communicating to us, people were not ready to open up, coupled with the fact that most of them in the community speak ''Egun'' and Yoruba language, so we have to find a way around the whole thing and myself who is not very good at speaking Yoruba, had to learn, so as to avoid language barrier and it became an additional knowledge.
Asides the stress and hard work, it was also fun too, going out of my comfort zone, going into a community different from what I know, seeing life through other people's perspectives, learning new things, meeting new people. In fact, I went on the water for the very first time. trust me, the first experience was good because I was so scared and at the same time happy. you know mixed feelings.
In my group, we have been able to relate and talk to the young girls in the community, we have been able to bring the girls closer to their community leaders, we held interactive dialogue meetings with the girls and the community leaders. we held a meeting with the girls and enlightened them about the consequences of this issue.
I am now a changed being, a better version of Victoria, this programme has brought out the best in me and I promise to continue to bring out a better version of myself every day. In these past months, I have engaged decision-makers and policymakers at multiple levels to address issues affecting young girls in Makoko community and it is something I am very proud that of. I have built my capacity for leadership and advocacy, I have learned, made new friends, and yes..... Less I forget. I have even built my capacity on self-defense too, which will be very useful too.
We also had this very amazing junkyard class, I learned so many life skills in this class even thought it was going to be strictly arts, but I learned and gained so much than I imagined. we are always having the best facilitators, the ones that connect with you, they always make the class so much fun, interacted and they never forget why they came, to educate.
Living life as an advocate may seem or look stressful, but trust me it isn't, it comes with its own joy, it comes with its own reward and by creating changes in other people's life and community, you change your life too, you become a better person and you make the world a better place to live in.