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Against All Odds; Mentoring Awakens Adolescent Girl’s Resolve

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In March 2016, over one thousand adolescent boys and girls enrolled in the Four Pillars PLUS project school mentoring program and since May, sessions have held across project schools on a bimonthly basis. Rachael, a 13-year-old student of Government Secondary School, Federal Housing Estate, Calabar is one of the mentees on the project. Here, she shares her story:

“After my dad and my mum got separated, life became a little bit challenging for my sister and I due to lack of motherly care. We were very young when this happened and were often left alone. My sister was serious about writing her Senior Secondary Exams but due to lack of appropriate guidance, my sister failed her exams. This has made life more depressing for her. Anytime I see my sister I cry, because her education has ended abruptly, not for any fault of hers but owing to lack of required counseling. This makes me really sad. I pray for my sister and don’t want her life stagnated or her education ending just like that.

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Now, for me, I have decided not to allow life circumstances to deter me from my goals. I have decided to be a medical doctor. I am more than determined to finish my education even through financial challenges. I hope one day, my sister will return to school too. I believe girls are equal with boys and deserve to be educated.

My involvement with Four Pillars PLUS program has encouraged me. It is helping me to like myself and improve my self-esteem when I go to the mentoring sessions. That is the only place I find encouragement. I am always happy when I am in the mentoring session. At the mentoring sessions, I have learnt how to communicate my needs without feeling guilty about it. I now see myself, not as inferior to a boy, but as having equal rights and opportunities that will enable me fulfill my dreams of becoming a Medical Doctor”.

The Four Pillars PLUS project is working to improve educational outcomes for boys and girls in Cross River State, Nigeria through effective community engagement; teacher professional development; encouraging students to pursue expanded career options, creation of safe school environments, and improved sexual and reproductive health for the young people it serves. The program, which launched in Calabar earlier in 2016, will reach 4,800 adolescent girls and boys across 4 public schools in addition to teachers, healthcare workers and over 30,000 persons across project communities.

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