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Four Pillars PLUS Project: Breaking down Barriers to Parent-Child Communication and Improving Parents’ Commitment to Adolescent Education

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“My mother and I were not close like a mother and a child should be. We never talk. My siblings and I were only given instructions – do this or don’t do that. This was always as far as the conversation would go. It always felt strange that it had to be that way. I always admired other children when I see the closeness with their mothers and longed for the same. My dream was to come true when the Four Pillars PLUS project came to my community.

My mother was invited to community dialogue sessions organized by the Four Pillars project team. The community dialogue sessions opened her eyes to the impact of communication on child development and from then on things started to change. One day she came back from a community dialogue session and asked me ‘How was school?’ and ‘What did you learn?’ I paused and looked at her because I wasn’t sure she was talking to me. She repeated: “Caro, how was school, have you all eaten?” We all looked at her and were wondering what had suddenly happened to her. She started sharing with us what she learnt in the dialogue sessions, educating me on personal hygiene and menstruation, how to stand up to peer pressure and avoid getting pregnant. My mother now pays my school fees on time; she gives me money to buy snacks at school; encourages me to study and helps with my homework. My mother now shows me a lot of love and care. She believes in me and has pledged to give me all the support I need to achieve my goal in life. Caroline Etim Edet- JSS 3 4PP mentee.

“ My sisters and I have always lived with my mother. She always made me feel that my sisters belong to her while I belong to my father (he passed away a few years ago). This was my experince before my mother joined the Four Pillars PLUS project community dialogue sessions. Now my mother’s attitude towards me has changed and I’m a happy boy. She buys me clothes, something I couldn’t recall when she last did.  She now pays my fees on time and gives me everything I need to stay and do well in my school. Now I understand how important it is to share household chores with my sisters so that we all get equal chance at education and equal opportunity for a better future.”. Philip Etim Edet- SS1 4PP mentee.

Mrs. Vivian Etim Edet, mother of Caroline and Philip, is an active member of the Four Pillars PLUS project Community Dialogue team in Adiabo. She exemplifies the will to break communication barriers between parents and children: “At the Four Pillars PLUS Community Dialogue sessions, I learnt that boys and girls have great potentials. Both are capable of carrying out any task and achieve anything they want. I now distribute domestic chores equally amongst my sons and daughters to ensure all my children have quality time to rest and study. My son Phillip sweeps the house, a chore I had assumed was strictly for girls.  I’m more aware of my roles and responsibilities as a mother with improved understanding of the need to provide equal support for boys’ and girls’ education, share reproductive health information I get at the community dialogue sessions, and to challenge gender inequality.” With strategic grassroots engagement from the Four Pillars PLUS project, Mrs. Edet has placed herself on a road to being the voice of change through ensuring equitable support for boys’ and girls’ overall development across all households in Adiabo community.

The Four Pillars PLUS project is funded by the GE Foundation.

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