YWCA and Activa Group Foundation Launch Project for High School Dropouts
Grand Cape Mount – Mariama Jabateh, 18, sits in a chair with a protruding stomach as she expects her third child in early August, 2018.
Report by A fourth-grade drop-out as a result of pregnancy in 2011, wonders when she will sit again in a classroom to forward her education.
Ms. Jabateh is among 50 adolescent girls, who are expected to benefit from a Sexual and Reproductive Health and Life Skills Training project, funded by Activa Group Foundation.
She said the project will give her a second chance as to improve her life and her daughters’. “I have two children; I am expecting another. This training will equip me for a better future because all I do is to sell farina and sugar.”
The US$33,000 project will be implemented by the Young Women’s Christian Association of Liberia (YWCA).
Haja Sheriff, a third-grader also dropped out of grade school as a result of pregnancy. Sadly, her baby did not survive. She is also expecting another baby.
She is in her sixth month and expressed heartfelt gratitude for the training on grounds that it will enable her to contribute to her family welfare.
At the program, the managing director of Activa International Insurance Company, Atty. Saye Gbalazeh, said the project is a miniature response to some societal needs and is a demonstration of the company’s corporate citizenship and social conscience.
“At Activa, we endeavor to balance the pursuit of profit with a commitment to ethical conduct and to achieve a balance between economic and our social obligations. This program, when implemented will provide business skills and economic empowerment to about 50 adolescent girls who are high school drop-outs,” Gbalezeh added.
The insurance executive said the goal of the program is to help reduce vulnerability amongst adolescent girls who have dropped out of school due to teenage pregnancy.
“We have the shared conviction that by building their capacities through information sharing and empowering them to take charge of their lives, they would acquire skills that would help them overcome dependency and instead make them productive and self-sufficient citizens. Undoubtedly, this program will have a positive impact on our adolescent girls,” he added.
The Activa boss further stated that after the training, the girls are expected to “organize themselves into a cooperative society.”
“The program shall provide seed money to cover the costs of equipment, construction of a sales point (shop structure) and ingredients.”
Activa intends to open doors of opportunity and prepare these young women to walk through those doors.
“We urge you to take full advantage of the privilege afforded you through this program,” Gbalazeh added.
A United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) 2016 report on teenage pregnancy in Liberia, shows that this nation has a serious problem that requires urgent attention. According to the UN specialized agency, teenage pregnancy stands at 38 percent.
It is estimated that on average 3 in 10 Liberian girls are pregnant before the age of 18.
He said there is also a finding that lack of access to sexual and reproductive health education was one of the causes of teenage pregnancy being on the increase.
“Teenage pregnancy affects the family, community and the society at large. It is disruptive to young women career and goals.”
YWCA National General Secretary, Ms. Roseline Toweh, said the project will help minimize teenage pregnancy and improve the living conditions of the girls.
Ms. Toweh indicated that her organization has experienced and trained manpower to carry out the program successfully.
She added that the 50 girls will be provided sanitary kit bags and will also be trained in pastry making and business management techniques.
The training, according to her, will be divided into five groups with 10 girls in each group.
“These girls are expected to sell the products that are going to be made and profit generated from these sales will be saved. At the end of the training, each participant will receive one tenth of the profit and saved during the training period and each will also receive a startup kit.
The girls will also be trained and encouraged to organize themselves on a joint-venture basis.
“These activities are intended to provide interventions that focus solely on reducing problems and finding difficulties and to enable these adolescents to address socials and economic problems that limit their ability to meet their needs holistically, the strategies are meant for a healthy adulthood,” she emphasized.