Friday, October 18, 2013

The First "Girl Rising" Success Story in Nigeria and How A Free MTN School Bag Made A Great Difference

 When the poor mother of 13-year-old girl Nkejika died after protracted illness, her impoverished father could no longer bear the burden of parenting alone, so he asked for the help of his in-laws and relations. In response, his sister in-law took Nkejika under her care in Shomolu, Lagos. Nkejika was very grateful and happy, but her happiness soon turned to sadness when the shameless and unscrupulous husband of her aunt started harassing her for sex and when she refused, he became hostile and mean to her. The more the poor girl refused to be abused the more he maltreated her and threatened to make her life more miserable if she dared to tell her aunt what was going on behind her back. He stopped her from school with the excuse that he could no longer provide for her junior secondary school education and Nkejika was turned into a housemaid to do all the chores in the house from dawn to dusk. Nkejika became depressed , and only found consolation in her best next door friend, Labake, a 12 year-old daughter of a single mother living in the same tenement. Labake's well educated mother could afford to send her daughter to one of the best private secondary schools in Lagos (and that makes Labake more brilliant than most of her mates in the tenement), and she loved to spend her free period with Nkejika and often shared her food and gifts with Nkejika who confided her agony to Labake who in turn told her mother.

Then one day as Nkejika's wicked uncle was maltreating her again for failing to do all the chores in the house, Labake's mother had to intervene when she saw the man hitting her with a rake. She seized the rake from him and said he could scold her to discipline her and not maltreating her. He warned her to mind her business. She ignored his threats and reported to the Publisher/Editor of Nigerians Report Online; on what could be done to save the life of Nkejika from being ruined by her cruel uncle. Nigerians Report Online is already known for exposing the ills in the society and reporting many cases of child abuse, rape and violence against women. The Publisher/Editor Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima told Labake's mother about the new Girl Rising Campaign for the education of underprivileged girls in the world and promised to report Nkejika's ordeals to NGOs committed to human rights and the welfare of girls and women and he kept his promise. But none of the NGOs did anything to help the poor girl. So, he decided to invite her to the Nigerian premiere of Girl Rising on Friday October 11, celebrating the United Nations International Day of the Girl Child, where he planned to introduce her to the NGOs among his co-partners and co-sponsors of the premiere and in fact mentioned the case of the poor girl to 10x10. But on the day of the premiere, the cruel uncle of Nkejika refused to let her leave the house and so she could not see the much talked about Nigerian premiere of "Girl Rising". Labake's mother and Michael Chima were disappointed. But he collected two of the gifts of free MTN school bags given to over 300 school children who came to the premiere and gave them to Labake's mother. "Please, give one to Nkejika. Tell her it is a gift from Girl Rising," Michael Chima said. Labake's mother was glad and grateful and returned home and gave the free MTN school bag to Nkejika who was very happy to receive it and when she looked inside the school bag, she saw a copy of "HIs/Her Book" by Dr. Anthony Marinho, one of the over 300 copies donated by Educare Trust, one of the leading co-sponsors of the Nigerian premiere. In innocent excitement, Nkejika showed them to her aunt who thanked Labake's mother and listened as Labake's mother told her the moving stories of the "nine girls from across the globe who vow to get an education despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their paths". She told her that even 10×10 that made the groundbreaking film, Girl Rising, knows about Nkejika and will help her in their global social action campaign for the education of poor girls in the world. She showed Nkejika's aunt photos from Girl Rising and the Nigerian premiere at the prestigious Silverbird Cinemas of the Silverbird Galleria on Victoria Island, Lagos. She was moved to show the free MTN school bag and free book to her husband and begged him to let Nkejika return to school and he agreed. And so Nkejika resumed schooling yesterday. Now she can live up to the great expectations of the true meaning of her Nigerian Igbo name Nkejika, which means What I have is bigger and greater

Nigerians Report Online also raised some money from the 40% of the tickets sold at the second screening of the Nigerian premiere of "Girl Risng" on Saturday October 12, that will be donated to Girls Power Initiative (GPI), a Nigerian non-governmental, not-for-profit youth development organization founded in 1993 by Bene Madunagu and Grace Osakue to address the challenges facing girls in the Nigerian society and equip them with information, skills and opportunities for action to grow into self actualized young women.


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