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Mentoring The Girl Child: Interview With Ebella Whajah Ellis, A Girl Child Advocate

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Ebella Whajah Ellis is a Visionary and Founder of Girls With Purpose Foundation – a non-profit organisation focused on helping Ghanaian young girls discover their individual identity, and creative gifts by developing qualities that will help them become leaders and contributing members of society. She describes herself as a Financial Advisor, Girl Child Advocate for Mathematics and Science, Motivation and Mindset Mentor. In this interview with  Alaba Ayinuola, Ebella spoke about her strong passion for motivation and at her leisure time mentor and train the youth most especially the girl child on Financial Education and Mindset building. Excerpt.

 

Alaba: Tell us about your Foundtion, “Girls with Purpose” and the gap its feeling?

Ebella: We are dedicated to providing positive mentorship, community interaction and recreational activities that inspires self-confidence, build self-esteem, friendships, nutritional health and integrity in the hearts of our girls.

The purpose of our foundation is to help young girls discover their individual identity, and creative gifts by developing qualities that will help them become leaders and contributing members of society.

Gaps:  We believe lack of rule models and adult influences can negatively impact the self-esteem of young girls. As a result, to help curtail these issues, Girls With Purpose Foundation, was established as a solution to the need for Mentorship among girls in the community and to address the challenges most girls face.

 

Alaba: How are you funding this initiative?

Ebella: By myself only, from my monthly salary.

 

Alaba: How does your organisation measure the impact?

Ebella: A lot of mentorship and empowerment programmes are organized in the area of EDUCATION, PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AND ENTREPRENURSIP. We have mentored over thousand young women, who gives us positive feedbacks.

Our organization also tackles inequality by supporting women and young girls to go to school and succeed, and empowering them to step up as leaders of change. We have donated over 500 educational items (Pens, Pencils, Erasers, Sharpeners, Mathematical sets etc) to final year basic students sitting for their final examination in the Northern part of Ghana. This was greatly appreciated by the students since most of them couldn’t afford it.

 

Alaba: What are the challenges and how are you overcoming them?

Ebella: The biggest challenge is lack of funds, since the only resort is my salary. Getting sponsorship and support for our projects is very difficult. For instance, this year we were looking to reach as many girls as possible through operation “SAVE OUR GIRLS OUTREACH(SOGO)” Programme, but only about three hundred school girls (between ages 9 to 15years) have been reached. We want to be able to reach out to many girls as much as possible but not only those in the cities but rural and deprived areas as well. We really need help as much as possible so no girl is left out, whether far or near.

 

Alaba: What inspires you and keeps you going?

Ebella: The fact that I know that someone has learnt from me positivity, skill sets that will influence them in a good way, create strong self –esteem and build their future.

Also Read Lillian Barnard: Tech Enthusiast And First Female Managing Director, Microsoft South Africa

Alaba: What advice would you give to potential social entrepreneurs who intend to start an initiative or invest in Africa.

Ebella: Your limitation- Its only your imagination. Anyone can go as humanly far as they want in life.

Social Entrepreneurs play crucial roles in development projects, often mobilizing, organizing and building projects that otherwise would never have launched. I would encourage potentials to join the cause of motivating, inspiring, empowering, educating, training etc

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Alaba: What’s the Future for Girls With purpose and what steps are you taking in achieving them?

Ebella: Girls With Purpose(GWP) will be the most preferred go to hub for passionate devotion in mentoring the girl child/ young women to find purpose in life, standout and succeed.

We are keeping an active social media account, since due to the wide spread of technology and digitalization many more girls can be reached and will enable them reach us with very pressing needs and issues. We don’t want them to feel lonely but have someone to discuss and find solutions to their problems. This will intend require donations, volunteering and other forms of support from companies and individuals in positions to assist.

We will also be travelling to places especially rural areas who will need a lot of our support. We need to encourage girls in such remote areas to aim high and that they have potential and can make it.

  

Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?

Ebella: I relax by keeping my phones away from me and working out in the gym relaxes me. The last book I read is THE BOLD NEW NORMAL by Lucy Quist So I would say I read a lot more inspirational books.

 

Alaba: Teach us one of your home language. Whats your favorite local dish and holiday spot in Africa

Ebella: Akwaaba- meaning you are welcome! My favorite local dish is Fufu and Palmnut Soup. And Aqua- Safari in Ada is my favorite holiday spot in Africa.

 

Her short Bio:

Ramat Ebella Whajah Ellis is a Seasoned Banker with a considerable level of experience in Banking. She has such experience in Cash Management, Branch Operations, Sales and Marketing, Business Advisory, Relationship Management, Team lead, Customer Service, Credit and Risk Analysis etc. She is currently a Branch Manager in one of the Banks in Ghana

She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics and a Master’s Degree in Finance as well as Charter/Professional Qualification in Financial Planning.

She is the Visionary and Founder of Girls With Purpose Foundation. She has a strong passion for motivation and at her leisure time, she like to mentor and train the youth on Financial Education and Mindset building.

In short, she describes herself as a Financial Advisor, Girl Child Advocate for Mathematics and Science, Motivation and Mindset Mentor. Research, reading, travelling with my family and offering support where she can be, are what she does in her spare time

She does live by the saying “YES YOU CAN!”

 

NGOs - SDGs

viSHEbility: Releasing Aspiration And Shaping Narratives One Story At A Time – Mary Mosope Adeyemi

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Mary Mosope Adeyemi, Founder & Host at viSHEbility.

viSHEbility began as a simple idea in Dec 2017; a solution to the perceived lack of visibility of the amazing and positive work that women of colour – in particular black women – are engaged with in the marketplace. These women we found, have not been equally empowered to share their stories on visible platforms. Consequently, this community suffers; firstly from a lack of support for their ideas; and secondly, from a lack of representation in seats and corridors of power and influence.

There have been a number of clarion calls for a platform of this nature. In the 2018 race at work report by Business in the Community, race equality director Sandra Kerr (OBE) stressed the importance of having role models from diverse ethnic minority backgrounds and made a call to create forums to share these stories. In their book, Slay in your Lane (2018), authors YomiAdegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene, using stories of a host of trailblazing black women, put words to the essence of viSHEbility as they stressed the importance of visible role models & representation for black young women ‘to help navigate the inevitable hurdles that do exist; providing valuable advice, encouragement and support’.

viSHEbility has inadvertently become a direct response to these calls. 

It is a talk show and social initiative that seeks to shine a light on the marketplace successes of black women in the UK and across Africa. In amplifying the voices of such a wealth of talent, we aim to attract much deserved sponsorship in the broader market by uncovering the beauty, courage and grit within these women as they relentlessly pursue their passions and purpose.

On viSHEbility, we showcase smart, successful, talented, dynamic, beautiful black women from a wide range of academic, career and business backgrounds, whose stories are inspiring and will show the breadth of what black women are and can be. viSHEbility places value on their collective experiences in a diverse marketplace as they navigate their career and business pursuits. Through intimate sofa conversations, they share what they have learnt with a world desperately in need of enlightenment.

As a by product, we will positively contribute to improved diversity in our media so that our culture, history and narrative is fairly represented in the various stories being told.

Whilst we have started with a talk show, the vision for viSHEbility is far broader which includes hosting learning & networking conferences, a mentorship program and a niche recruitment service all tailored to serve this unique community.

Also Read Black Space App CEO, April Jefferson on entrepreneurship and connecting black travelers to their culture

We hope that by creating this uniquely exclusive platform, we can both generate greater sponsorship for their ideas and unlock aspiration in other women who are seeking real life super heroes who look just like them.

We truly believe that if she sees it, she can be it.

Some Featured Guests

Mary and Bukola Adisa, Managing Director, Barclays UK Chief Controls Office

Mary with Ifedayo Durosinmi Etti, Serial Entrepreneur – Founder of Parliamo Bambini, Philos & Zoe & the AGS Trib

Mary and Adesuwa Okunbo, Managing Director & Partner, Syntaxis Capital Africa

 

B I O G R A P H Y

Mosope Mary Adeyemi is an experienced investment professional with 12 years’ experience supporting organisations in the risk focused deployment of financial capital to debt products across a number of sectors and regions. She has worked for global investment banks – Deutsche Bank, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs.

Alongside a busy corporate career, Mary has championed social causes that matter to her in particular those that serve to empower women and ethnic minorities. To this end, she has led various projects and served on a number of steering committees. Most notable of these were co-chairing the Alumni Advisory Board of SEO London, a UK charity that creates professional opportunities for ethnic minorities, and serving as a volunteer consultant with Grow Movement, providing East African Entrepreneurs with bare bones business advice. This demonstration of passion and drive across disciplines earned Mary a WATC Rising Stars in Banking Award in 2017 for leadership, excellence and high value add in her field and also for her role in creating opportunities for diverse candidates in her various spheres of influence.

In 2019, Mary launched viSHEbility, a talk show and social initiative that shines a light on the marketplace successes of black women in the UK and across Africa with the 2 key objectives – 1. Toencourage, educate and empower others and 2. to create a more positive narrative of Black females in the media. Mary Mosope’s mission is to support women who look like her to successfully navigate the sometimes muddy terrain of career and business by making herself accessible, and creating a platform that encourages learning, sharing and growing.

Mary Mosope holds a 1st class BA in Accounting & Finance from Lancaster University, an MSc in Management from Imperial College and is a qualified Chartered Accountant with the ACCA.

She is of Nigerian Descent, an amateur weightlifter and fitness enthusiast, an avid traveller and a fashion enthusiast.

 

Visit – viSHEbility

YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEGs5m183nhuQa97oMyluOQ

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn- @vishebility

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NGOs - SDGs

Royal visit: Queen Matilde of Belgium wades into age old Maasai culture early marriages and FGM

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Belgian Queen Matilde with excited school children at Furaha Centre in Kalobeyei Village, Kakuma Refugee Camp, Turkana County during her recent visit-Photo By Frank Dejongh

18-year-old Purity Kesuma fits the aphorism “pigs will fly” meaning that the seemingly impossible phenomena can come to pass in a life time.

Born into the conservative Maasai culture that treats women and girls as objects without a voice, Kesuma has not only shrugged off early marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) so prevalent in her community, she has acquired wings and, like the popular aphorism,  flown to an unlikely audience with a European queen.

Thanks to the unique circumstances surrounding her life, wiry and shy Kesuma had the exceptional privilege of narrating to visiting Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Crown Princess Elizabeth her tottery walk from an igloo shaped abode at a Maasai Manyata in Mailwa Village, Kajiado County to Ilsibil Secondary School where she is a candidate in this year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE).

“I am the youngest of five girls from three mothers married to my mother and the only one to set foot in a secondary school,” she recounted after a meeting with the queen who was on a tour of Kenya recently in a mission to raise awareness on education for vulnerable groups and child protection issues. She had been to in her capacity as honorary president of UNICEF, Belgium.  She had been to Niger, Tanzania, Senegal, Haiti, Ethiopia, Liberia and Laos on a similar mission.

She says: “The eminent visitors could not believe that the teenager before them who now aspires to be a doctor had escaped from an arranged child marriage to a man many years her senior when she was only 14 and had narrowly dodged the knife that had genitally mutilated her four older sisters in an age old rite of passage to womanhood.

Her story of a bare knuckled struggle to realize her dreams against all the odds stunned the royal duo by its sheer luridness.

“I returned home after sitting the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) at Mailwa Primary School and effervescent with the hope of proceeding to secondary school the following year courtesy of my 295 points only to be rudely confronted by the possibility of missing out for lack of school fees. I was devastated to the bone when calling letters arrived from Ilsibil and Esolenge Secondary schools.  My father told me to my face to forget further education. Reason?  No school fees.

Purity talks to Belgian queen Matilde and Crown Princess Elizabeth at Ilsibil Girls’ Secondary School, Kajiado County– Photo by Sarah Ooko

“Downhearted and lost for what to do, I left home and went to stay with a married step sister with a toddler to assist her with maternity chores, hoping that school fees would somehow come my way. I had hardly settled down when information came that I was wanted back home.

Also Read Sahara Group Reiterates Support For The Arts At Bling Lagosians Private Screening

“Still, no fees, but rumours were rife in the village that my father intended to marry me away to a man I had never met. Arrangements had been made to have me circumcised before I could meet my suitor. I hid from home and ran away to my former school the moment I confirmed the rumour from my father whose word was final.

“My former head teacher received me with love. She asked me to take courage and promised to give me protection. She contacted World Vision and a team came over to talk to me. The gesture culminated in my joining Form one at Ilbisil Girls’ Secondary School.  World Vision offered to pay my school fees and here I am today in Form Four and a 2019 KCSE candidate.
Tears jump to purity’s eyes as images of the flight from home cascade through her mind. She blinks fast and uses the edge of her palm to wipe off the tears. She recalls how a moved Queen Mathilde wondered if her parents had accepted her back into the family.

“My father had disowned me, but had a change of mind after my former Head teacher pleaded with him to forgive me. I returned home and my father gave me his blessings. A father’s blessings are crucial in Maasai culture.

She says Queen Mathilde held her hand with the words “Your courage and determination will take you far. Prepare well for your examinations. You will hear from me through UNICEF”.
World Vision program Manager In charge of Osiligi area Ms Tabitha Mwangi Meoli says Queen Mathilde and Crown Prince Elizabeth engaged in community dialogues with Maasai men and women to discuss possible interventions and facilitation to trigger change in harmful practices such as FGM and early marriage affecting girls’ education.

She says through facilitation by UNICEF, New Vision organizes alternative rites of passage and persuades fathers to bless uncut girls considered a cursed lot by society.

“The curse is real and can affect uncut girls in many forms if reprieve from fathers and elders is not sought and given.   We also talk to Morans to accept uncut girls for wives and enlighten them on the disadvantages of FGM,” says Ms Meoli.

The Queen and the crown princess who were in the country for three days also visited Furaha Centre that offers art therapy activities at the Kakuma refugee Camp in Turkana County, the Kalobeyei Integrated settlement in northern Kenya where children and adolescents build learning and education skills and the UNICEF supported Jitegemee Livelihood Project that empowers young mothers through access to education and skills development.

Also in her itinerary was the AMREF Dagoretti Child Protection and Development Centre that rescues and liberates children living in vulnerable situations, The ACAKORO football academy in Nairobi’s Korogocho slum that develops football talent in deserving children while providing them with school fees and meals.

Queen Mathilde is the wife to the reigning King Philippe of Belgium. The couple has four children of whom Crown Princess Elizabeth is the eldest. Her assistance to the king in carrying out  state functions include private and state visits abroad and audiences with representatives of various groups.

Besides her role as UNICEF ambassador for Belgium, she   is the Honorary President of the Queen Mathilde Fund that endeavours to assist the weakest members of society with focus on child poverty and the position of women in society.

 

Credit Standard Media

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NGOs - SDGs

A Pyramid Approach To Solving Lagos’ Waste Challenge

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Lagos, Nigeria

To solve Lagos’ waste challenge, Sahara Foundation has engaged key leaders, religious authorities and government representatives in each community, sensitising them on the urgent importance of proper waste disposal. They are in turn expected to spread the education to the rest of their communities, writes Solomon Elusoji

On a recent damp Thursday morning, elite residents of Ijora-Oloye, a slum community around west Africa’s busiest port in Lagos, converged on their town hall to talk about waste management. The community, with its network of weather-beaten roads and low, ramshackle houses was riddled with filth. Residents said the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and its retinue of trucks do not come into the community to collect waste, so they resorted to piling up rubbish in gutters, verandas and a nearby underbridge. This is a fairly common problem in Lagos; in 2017, a hiccup in the state’s waste management operations resulted into thousands of Lagosians dumping their waste on the streets, blocking major roads and polluting the air with repulsive smells.

The convener of the Ijora-Oloye meeting was Sahara Foundation, the CSR arm of Sahara Group, an energy conglomerate with business interest across 38 countries. The foundation said it is invested in, among other things, the environment and sustainable development, and wants to turn the community into a recycling hub. “We have an office here (Ijora-Oloye),” Director for Governance and Sustainability at Sahara Group, Pearl Uzokwe, said, “and we’ve looked around and realised there is a waste management problem”.

Sahara’s plan to clean up the community by engaging the key influencers – community leaders, religious authorities, government representatives – in the community, sensitising them on the urgent importance of proper waste disposal. Sahara Foundation’s Manager, Oluseyi Ojurongbe described it as “a mindset orientation”.

The influencers are then expected to spread the education to the rest of the community. “We have town criers who can go round and inform others”, a Baale of the community, Tajuden Igbalaye, who attended the Thursday meeting, said. What Sahara is doing “is a very good program, we want them to do more”.

Apart from sensitising, Sahara is also partnering two environment companies, EcoPrune and Pearl Recycling, to train the community on how to collect, sort and package waste products for delivery, which can then be exchanged for healthcare services. But they are starting with one person in the community, who is set to become a certified upcycler. “The person is supposed to cascade the training down to other members of the community”, Ojurongbe said. “It’s like a pyramid”.

Sahara Group in partnership with Ecoprune during the inaugural exercise in Ijora, Lagos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Changing World

Climate Change is transforming the world. The United Nations has described it as “the defining issue of our time”. The oceans are warming and ice packs in Antartica are melting, but the quantity of greenhouse gases in the environment, due to intensive industrialisation and deforestation, continues to rise. The future of planet earth is at stake.

The problem, however, is that the rise of greenhouse gases is inextricably tied to better lives for more people across the world. No government wants to stop building houses or making cars to save the earth. But by reducing and reusing components of production, experts believe the significant increase in global warming can be arrested.

Lagos, perhaps west Africa’s most cosmopolitan city, generates about 13,000 metric tonnes of waste daily. But most of it is not properly disposed, talk less of recycled. When it rains, people dump their refuse in flowing gutters, inadvertently blocking drainages, leading to massive flooding. Sometimes, most parts of the state resembles an abandoned landfill.

To tackle the problem, droves of environmental startups have been founded offering innovative approaches, but government intervention remains key. The city’s immediate past administration introduced the ambitious Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) to provide an all-encompassing solution, but the program failed to get traction.

Meanwhile, corporate organisations like Sahara are also weighing in. This June, the group launched its Green Life project, a social responsibility initiative that seeks to contribute to solving problems related to climate change, including Lagos’s perennial waste problem.

Also Read UN Economic Commission for Africa kicks off National Seminar in Lagos

Committed for the Long Run

At the Thursday meeting, Ecoprune’s Co-founder, Sandra Onwuekwe, delivered a presentation before the community representatives. She linked the locals’ arbitrary disposal of waste to flooding and ill-health. She also displayed a variety of recyclable waste products, such as plastics and cartons, then reminded them about the healthcare services they could receive. Later, founder of Pearl Recycling, Olamide Ayeni-Babajide, gave a similar speech, too.

It is not yet clear how successful the healthcare incentive will be but a similar scheme in Ajegunle by Africa Cleanup Initiative, which allowed people to exchange plastics for educational services, has been deemed successful.

Cleaning exercise in partnership with Ecoprune

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ojurongbe said one way the foundation will track progress is by measuring the number of trips being made to the community’s healthcare centre and determining how much flooding has been curbed in the area.

After the Thursday meeting ended, members of the Sahara Group and its environmental partners rolled up their sleeves and picked up rakes to clean up parts of the Ijora-Oloye community.

“This is not going to be a one-off, it is going to be continuous,” the Sahara sustainability chief, Uzokwe, said. “We look at it as something that can be built on. It is just the beginning. So we are looking for partners and collaborators. We believe we can’t do it alone, but we will not stand on the sidelines.”

Credit: THISDAY

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