Hope Again Initiative
Hope Again Initiative is a campaign to empower the disabled girl through community based vocational learning and internships. It’s a campaign that seeks to improve the quality of life of the disabled girl especially those in sub-urban and rural communities by educating and equipping her with a vocational skill, building her capacity and self-esteem.
Statistics and reports show tremendous effort in addressing barriers and making progress in some of MDGs and SDGs, but in achieving such milestones as in education, gender equality and women empowerment, the disabled girl is still falling through the cracks as Gender interacts with disability to create double disadvantage for girls with disabilities.
The HAI approach positions the disabled within her community as a viable member of society, while empowering her. The project equips her with practical life skills which she has never been privy to receiving most of her life thus improving quality of life. This campaign deeply inspires.
The objectives of this project is to empower the disabled girl within her community, thereby reducing the life burden associated with disability from her family and making her a productive and participating member of society and her community.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
Disabled girls and women from the age of 15 years are the beneficiaries of the Hope Again Initiative.
A total of 20 girls spread across 4 communities are the direct beneficiaries of the project. By engaging the disabled girl within her community, her gaining entrepreneurial and vocational skills through internships and building her capacity and self-esteem, the interactions established and outcomes will take away from the welfare and charity societal attitude of disability focusing on more inclusion.
The program is ongoing and so far it has been well embraced because of its commitment to a value adding experience and life changing opportunity.
Hope Again Initiative is different because it targets a specific and core vulnerable group “the disabled girl” as well as engages persons with disability in a more empowering way and keeps the discussion going.
The norm is usually a one or two day gathering of persons with disability and a quick seminar or training that can’t be translated into any use for the person with disability. The innovation is in allowing the girls train within their communities, have people slowly get used to seeing them as active and contributing members of community and not welfare cases or beggars and also builds the self-esteem of disabled girl by allowing her function in her community on her own terms.
- Disabled girls successfully completing the training and internship program
- Other persons with disability had built in capacity by training them in leadership, personal development (self-esteem building) and entrepreneurship during the orientation and workshop.
- Better motivated families
- Leaning towards Financially independent young disabled girls in select communities who are empowered through life and vocational skills
- Communities with better attitudes towards persons with disability and girls
- Girls who will become future role models to other disabled girls within and outside their community.
This campaign is deeply inspired because the founder of this organization is a woman living with a disability and wants to see the disabled girl not left behind but given a chance at life.
The issue of disability in Nigeria especially at community level is still shrouded in mystery. Getting parents and families to consent to and support disabled girls was a challenge.
Most of the girls don't have mobility aids like wheel chairs and crutches because prior to this just because she is disabled she wasn't expected to amount to much. The setting of the project is focused on the disabled learning her new skill within her community, some of the girls had skills they were interested in that couldn't be pursued mainly because such businesses were nonexistent within their communities.
These were some of the basic challenges experienced in launching this ongoing campaign.
Wow! So far many lessons have been learnt and we are still learning as the campaign is ongoing.
- First lesson learnt is that anything done is worth doing well and that irrespective of mounting challenges and issues with resources, what counts in the end is touching at least one life because of the ripple effects.
- As a project we found that many capacities were very low and it was important to consistently engage in the monthly follow ups and support group structures so that the girls continue. We are hoping and believing that all the girls will be successful in completing their training.
- Other lessons learnt were that disability and disability related issues are a discussion that must continue in our country towards better attitudes and social inclusion.
- We also learnt that many persons with disability have a multitude of needs (like mobility aid) which the program was not structured to resolve.
These are some of the lessons learnt.