And as we advocate and pray for the girls that were taken away, let us stand up and give a hand-up to the girls who are still here with us, the ones who are left behind. Often, It is so easy to get caught up in agitating for something wrong to be fixed right, that we forget the small acts of love, volunteerism, service and attention that we can pay forward to the current situation at hand.
A friend and I were chatting not too long ago about the power of taking seemingly small and yet effective action steps, in the face of overwhelming evil, corruption and breakdown of societal values. The fuel that keeps the flames of evil alive is APATHY. It is important that we care deeply about the world around us. If we do not shape our society, the reverse happens; the society shapes us in its own image. Nobody is immune to this fundamental truism. Thus, we are called upon to be the LIGHT of our world; to become beacons of hope and what is possible.
Perhaps, in addition to the social media campaigns, street sit-outs and peaceful demonstrations, the best protest against the injustice of over 200 girls that were kidnapped (and many more that are disadvantaged), may be to invest in, engage, educate and empower the girls that are left behind. One of my mentors once told me that every single negative act requires approximately ten times the positive effort, action and restitution to extinguish its flames. For every single girl that is suppressed/oppressed, let us empower and raise up at least ten more!
Yes, beyond the (very necessary and important) clamour of #BringBackOurGirls, let us not ignore the girls who are here in our midst, and are faced with daily challenges of violence, sexual abuse & rape, insecurity, lack of access to quality education & healthcare, child marriages, slavery, sex trafficking, female genital mutilation, kidnapping…
They are everywhere and if you look hard enough you will encounter them. On the streets begging when they should be in school, they are there -as ‘house-helps’, involuntarily trading their childhood for a piece of bread and a bed, trapped in big mansions, where they work at slaves’ pace, taking care of other people’s children with no defined pay or benefits (and sadly, they are children themselves and yet are sometimes treated less than animals), they are all around us in our communities, our churches, mosques, in our dilapidated public schools…
[Image: Leadership Training Program at St Kizito Secondary School, Umudioka, Anambra].
Take a moment to give back, in a structured and sustainable way, to the forgotten children (especially girls) in your world. Sometimes, it’s not merely about throwing money at the problem. Sometimes, you can transform the trajectory of a little girl’s life by simply showing you care; by creating time and energy to be present in her life and by consciously reminding her that you see her, you hear her, tell her that she has value, that her dreams are valid, that she matters!
Coach, Mentor, Invest in (Grants, Scholarships, Breakfast Programs, Endowment Funds), Engage, Educate, Empower a Girl-Child today. She holds the future in the palm of her hands. Together, we co-create the society of our dreams (or nightmares). Every single (in)action counts. Raise your hands and hearts and be counted! ❤ Cyber-Hugs.
Love, Light & Truth!
Raising a New Generation of Transformational, Ethical & Creative African Leaders (T.E.C)
#BridgingTheIntegrityGap #LeadershipMatters #EducateAGirl #EducateABoy
Floetry by Juliet’Kego: Maina’s Message to Mama (A TRIBUTE POEM)
I have a name.
I am called Maina.
I am more than a mere number,
one of two, three, four,
Hundreds, thousands, millions?
I am a little girl lost, from a small town called Chibok.
I am the stench of my nation’s festering, rotten sore.
Ever since that night,
every night, I dream of my mama.
In the dreams that I dream, of the dreams that I dream,
as I lay here, curled up,
on the hot and harsh harmattan sands,
mourning the death of …….
I dream of my widowed, wounded mother,
(whose folds were hacked off at thirteen)
I see her under the iroko tree in the village square,
our special spot, where we played hide and seek,
And daydreamed about my becoming a lawyer;
fighting the fights she could not fight,
shinning a light for girls trapped in stifling darkness of traditions.
beneath the iroko tree where papa, and my big brother Abu lay naked,
buried in the forever sleep of the spirit.
My beautiful mama, how she must languish in anguish, at the horror
of her little girl, lost in strange places, among stranger faces.
they attacked my school,
a sacred halls and walls of light in Chibok
they call themselves soldiers of faith.
soldiers of darkness! stealers of my childhood!
I try to be brave but there are days I cannot hold back my tears,
I am strangled by the darkness of Sambisa,
forest of my fears and nightmares
and when dusk embraces dawn in a goodnight kiss,
I taste the bile rise up,
at the sight of my captors approaching…
Will they barter me off for a few kobos, nairas and cowrie beads?
will I be mounted on auction blocks?
lapped at lustfully by these dogs, as they place their bids?
will they squeeze and suck at my budding, bouncing breasts?
will they defile and invade my womb with their diseased, erect heads?
If you read this, please take a trip to my little town of Chibok,
tell my mama that her little girl, Maina, is safe and untouched.
do not mention that I, whose age is a single digit, was made to marry
say nothing of my growing rounded form,
or that I cannot tell which of the soldiers of faith
forcefully fathered this seed that I now shamefully carry
do not ask her forgiveness for the dark thoughts that swirl
how I dream of slipping away in the forever sleep of the tomb
or that I pray day and night that her grandchild within me will die
and flow out in bloody tears between my once innocent thighs
Tell her instead, that nations of the world stood up and fought for me,
man, woman and child raised their voices.
and cried out together: “Bring Back Our Girls!”
tell her to wait for me under that shaded iroko tree in the village square,
I shall hug her frail form as she dances and rejoices.
do tell my mama that I will make it back home soon.
lie to her; promise her that I shall see her tomorrow, at noon
and till you see me again, remember to take good care of my sisters
with every girl-child you raise up, my spirit is lifted up to the stars.
© Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido