By: Ewoenam Kpodo | Voltaonlinegh |
Gender Advisor to former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma and former United Nations staff, Naasu Fofanah has called on the public especially the youth to always be focused on things they are passionate about and give off their best to help transform society.
Madam Fofanah said there was the need to overlook obstacles and commit to support the cause of humanity and help others in times of need saying, such acts of charity always paid off in the long run.
She used herself as testament from how she returned home from her studies in London, offered her services during the civil war in her country, mobilised support for Haiti in times of need which earned her a role at the UN and how former President Koroma sourced her to serve in his administration.
The Gender and International Development specialist was addressing students of Tsito Senior High Technical School in the Volta Region as the Guest Speaker at a motivation outreach programme dubbed “Inspiration-on-Wheels” organised by non-profit youth organisation, Girls Excellence Movement (GEM) with support from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The interactive and engaging programme on Saturday, witnessed varied talks from GEM mentors (males and females) and activities including breakout session, question and answer time and sanitary pad education.
Madam Fofanah charged the students, girls especially to aspire for the best and not permit any form of abuse to derail them from their path to greatness.
The Board Chairperson, Sierra Leone Rugby Union narrated how she lived with the trauma of sexual abuse in her childhood by two trusted persons, her pastor and her uncle yet managed to go through her studies and remained focused to attain her current status in society before recently breaking the silence on her abuse leading to her overcoming the trauma.
I.T. Engineer, Lahadi Samira who spoke on self esteem, revealed the ordeal she went through because of a medical condition, spot baldness which took her hair and advised young people to “be you, love yourself” and not give others the chance to talk them down.
Madam Samira said “it took me over a decade to learn to accept myself” underscoring the essence of the GEM programme saying, if she had had that chance, it would not have taken her that long to accept herself.
Executive Director of GEM, Juliana Ama Kplorfia speaking to Voltaonlinegh said GEM “exists to inspire, motivate and inform to transform girls into great women of excellence.”
Ms. Kplorfia explained it was inspired by the desire to provide platform for girls to share problems they could not tell their parents.
“I grew up from that environment (Kwamekrom, Oti Region) where I saw my friends drop out of school. They went through rape, and other forms of abuse which they couldn’t tell anyone. So, I’ve always had the desire to have that listening environment for girls to speak so they can get support and develop into better and greater women.”
She said the event had for the first time brought together boys and girls explaining, it was so because Madam Fofanah through her organisation, 50th Speaker Series would usually speak to both sexes on such issues.
She explained sanitary pad distribution and education on outreaches saying, GEM had cause to believe that some girls did not know its usage while distribution of mathematical sets was to make a statement that girls should “go and smash Maths.”
Assistant Headmistress of the school, Victoria Achoribo described the visit of GEM team as timely and “have come to open up the eyes of the youth” to lots of issues which could be helpful to them on their journey of life.
Some students in an interview, were grateful for the event saying it was inspirational, educative and revealing.
One of them, Emmanuella Gbesiagbe said the experiences the various mentors shared were encouraging especially that of Madam Fofanah which was about her determination in difficult times and not allowing her poor family background deter her from attaining her goals in life.