By Mabinty Kamara
Mohamed Kargbo, Project Manager of the Peagie Woobay Scholarship Foundation (PWSF), has described girls as drivers of change in society. He said that’s why the organization was focused on empowering girls through education and mentoring.
“We cater for children who are coming from deprived homes and teenage mothers as well,” Kargbo told Politico in an interview on the sidelines of a workshop organized last week end for about 30 school girls. The workshop took the form of interactive sessions as participants were seated in a circular position with the girls in orange-colored T-shirts.
The workshop, which targeted beneficiaries of the PWSF, was attended by girls from all part of the country. The girls were educated and mentored by professional women - lawyers, medical practitioners, university lecturers, principals and teachers.
The workshop was chaired by Dr. Fatu Taqi, a lecturer at Fouray Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. In her statement she encouraged the girls to take up the challenge of aspiring to becoming like the women in front of them or even more than those people had achieved. She told the girls that to be self-confident was the key to women’s empowerment.
“Parents, society and everybody else should be part of the confidence building in girls. We should stop discouraging them with disparaging comments, because such comments can easily be taken for granted,” said Ms Taqi.
Issues generally affecting the girl child were discussed during the workshop sessions. One of the facilitators, Ms Millicent Stronge, a private legal practitioner, took the girls through her academic life, from university to becoming a lawyer.
“You should know what you really want to do in life. And I knew I wanted to become a lawyer, so I used to read a lot of books including novels,” she told the girls. Ms Stronge noted however that her life was not all about books, although she focused on education because that was what she needed most.
Niki Spencer Coker, another female legal practitioner and radio presenter, encouraged the girls to be friends of their books and to use dictionary in order to know the meaning of strange and confusing words. During her presentation, Ms Coker took the girls through the beauty and dangers of using social media platforms.
“Social media has it positive aspects but I cannot advise teenage girls like you to be engaged in its usage since the possibility of misuse is great,” she said.
She made reference to the recent saga at the Anni Walsh Memorial School, the all-girls high school which had to decide on the fate of two of its pupils snapped kissing each other publicly.
Those girls face possible expulsion from the school.
“Were they aware that that single act by them would have caused such a scandal for them and the school…?” she asked.
And she added: “One thing you do here and think is private will be exposed to the rest of the world within a minute.”
Mariama Famata Jalloh, a 14-year old participant, explained how she had once been tagged by a boy on social media without her knowledge and a friend of her father’s getting to see the photo which brought her shame.
“When my father’s friend saw my picture with a boy, with a description ‘my wife’, my dad became furious and asked me to quit facebook,” she narrated.
Mariama later told Politico that with all the lessons she’d learnt from the workshop, especially about social media usage, “where we befriend people whose characters we do not know, and the fact that social media is a platform to interact with friends and relatives and not to make new friends, especially those we do not know, I promise to delete myself from facebook, whatsap, etc., just after this place.”
Mariama pointed out that the workshop had to some extent helped her to be confident in talking in public, as public speaking had been one of her greatest weakness.
Peagie Woobay Scholarship Foundation would continue to be part of the process of girls’ education, its program manager, Kargbo, vowed. He said they would ensure that girls do not drop out of school.
(C) Politico 22/06/16