Since 2013, Girls for Change (GFC) has been providing teenage mothers with lifesaving skills. Adolescence is a vital stage in life. According to Mrs. Ora Barclay Keller, the Executive Director of Girls for Change, this stage of life is highly influenced by peers and environment.
To bring about positive change in the lives of girls, Girl for Change teaches hard and soft skills. Some of the skills the organization teaches teenage mothers include managing emotions, building a positive self-image, strengthening social skills, building relationships, as well as dealing with peer pressure. However, to buttress the importance of the role the organization is playing, Keller said,
“Most of the girls we are providing opportunities for are victims of sexual abuse and some got pregnant while in school. Retaining them in school is a primary concern for us. [However] we saw a gap in the lack of a safe environment for those children to play and learn.”
The vacuum Girls for Change is trying to fill
In an interview with Daily Observer on May 20, 2019, Mrs. Keller said there are limited opportunities for training, education, and employment for girls. Also, Keller mentioned that half of Liberia’s population are under 18 years. Consequently, these adolescents are more vulnerable to high risk. With the support of those who believe in the future of Liberia, Keller through GFC hopes to solve some of these problems.
Most of these teenage mothers are school dropouts. Girl for Change is supporting these young women through providing scholarships, training, and awareness on teenage pregnancy. GFC also provide health clubs in schools as well as provide early childhood development for the children of teenage mothers. According to Keller, the motivation is from the realization that most teenage mothers are school dropouts. However, when they return to school, they are unable to concentrate because there is no facility to cater for their children. With the facilities provided by GFC, Keller said,
“This allows the mother to be settled in school and pay attention to her studies because her child is being taken care of at our child development center.”
The impact of the program so far
According to Mrs. Keller, over 500 teenage mothers and their children are beneficiaries of the program. Some of the children who are done with the training now work as ambassadors to teach their peers. Consequently, these ambassadors teach prevention of teenage pregnancy and the importance of healthy living, as well as peer-to-peer coaching.
There are not much courses that provide sexual health education. Thus, GFC educates teenagers on sexual health while their mothers are in school. The organization believes this is the best way to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy. Girls for Change also encourage beneficiaries to attend skills training during vacation. Some of the skills GFC offer are graphic design, tailoring, painting, and knitting of African slippers.
About Girls for Change
Girls for Change is a self-funded non-profit organization. It focuses on supporting girls and women that are victims of all forms of violence. The organization operates in Lower Margibi, Bong and Montserrado counties. Consequently, they provide support to teenage mothers, marginalized youths and less fortunate girls. They achieve their aim through the provision of scholarships as well as informal and formal education.