By Elijah Ugani: Health Correspondent
No fewer than 33 young girls have been trained on issues relating to sexual and reproductive health under the Health Initiative for Stability in Africa (HIFASS) Local Orphan and Vulnerable Children Partners in Nigeria Region three (LOPIN 3) as a means to ensure a viable future for them.
13 of them where empowered with tools while another four received shops rented for them at the conclusion of the six month long training held in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
The girls are expected to become peer educators on issues ranging from leadership, to sexual and reproductive health.
“This is part of our support to Cross River state government, we have done similar empowerment in the past; for this tranche, we trained these young girls for six months on leadership training, peer education and building their skills,” said the deputy chief of party, HIFASS and the LOPIN 3 program director, Dr. Usman Al-Rashid.
“We had trained them on tailoring and hair dressing and they were mentored on how to avoid acts that could risk them of HIV/AIDS. They will become peer educators to train others. We will cluster them so that we can monitor them and act as peer educators to themselves and others.
“We have 129 children who are HIV positive in our program and this is high in Calabar, due to dwindling fund, USAID has asked us to withdraw from Northern part of the state and we have to transfer them to SACA,” Al-Rashid added.
On the method of enrollment, Al-Rashid noted that the young girls are selected through a rigorous process by the local based organisations that are working with LOPIN 3 in the state.
On her part, the Director of the Cross River State Action Committee on AIDS (SACA), Dr. Rosemary Inyambe commended LOPIN 3 for carrying the assessment and selecting those to be empowered.
To the beneficiaries, she said: “Count yourselves Lucky to have benefited from this program, some people have struggled for years without success, here you are, your capacity have been developed and you are going to be empowered, it is quite emotional and passionate, we are grateful for this gesture, please as you go back, don’t sell the equipment, put them to use.”
Continuing, she stated that: “Hard work pays, don’t get involved in activities that will give you quick money, go and put into use what you have been trained on for nothing is easy in life, go and ask the commercial sex workers, it is not easy with them.”
Earlier, the permanent secretary in the ministry of women affairs, Mr. Freedom Ejom expressed his excitement and passion for the program. “I have learnt a lot in the ministry of women affairs; having learned this much, I want to become an advocate for womanhood.
“The woman is the center of development in the society, you have been trained for six months and you are to be empowered. HIFASS is giving you point and kill, it is how much you put in that determines how people come to patronise you, put in your very best, HIFFASS LOPIN 3 is helping Cross River State to create a source of hope for the young people.”
Five out of the thirteen were given a set of hair dressing equipment and generators while eight young girls were given sewing machines, while the rest would be given theirs in the next tranche.
The rented shops were handed to some of the beneficiaries from last year’s set that were unable to rent shops and commenced their work at three different locations in Calabar.
Two of the shops are located at 8 miles, one at Akim Barracks mami market and the last one at Yellow Duke Street.
A beneficiary of the program, Miss Rebecca Wilson who disclosed that the dress she wore was made by her, promised to use the equipment given to her productively.
For Miss Udeme Ogoni, she could not believe the first day she made NGN1,5000 after a client had paid for the hair she made.
Both commended LOPIN 3 and all those who facilitated the program and promised to use the skills and the knowledge gained to impact others and make money for herself.
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