Redefining purpose for adolescents and young people

 Musa Akilu with Adamu Usman Umaru, Head Teacher at the Islamic school.
Musa Akilu at the Islamic school where he studies.
February 15, 2023

Musa is an 18 years old resident of Tarauni local government area, Kano state. Musa was born and raised in the village, and when he came of age, his parents sent him to the Islamic school to obtain Almuhajirun (Islamic education). They handed him over to the Islamic teacher who provided him with knowledge and shelter.

With no real life skills and no support system, Musa could not afford his basic needs. He survived by begging for food and alms, sometimes he ran errands and did odd jobs for a small fee, with which he bought food and catered for himself.

This was the life Musa led for years and he had little hope of access to improved living conditions and economic opportunities. His situation however changed when the Girls Improving Resilience through Livelihoods and Health (GIRL-H) Program began its intervention in Kano state. The program is implemented in five local government areas of Kano state namely Kumbotso, Dala, Fagge, Ungogo and Tarauni LGA, where Musa resides.

Working with community stakeholders to connect young people with opportunities

To provide skills and create access to livelihood opportunities for young people like Musa, the GIRL-H team partnered with the local government secretariat, particularly the Office of the Education Secretary.

The Education Secretary gave approval for safe space sessions to be conducted in one of the schools in the community and shared a letter of consent to the Headmaster of the school.

The program also paid advocacy visits to the Office of the Hakima i.e. the District Head of the Local Government Area who then linked the team with the Dakacis (council members). A selection criteria was developed for the Dakacis to identify the right participants in their communities. Musa was among those identified by the District Head as a mentee to the project.

Musa akilu with adamu usman umaru, head teacher at the islamic school.
Musa Akilu with Adamu Usman Umaru, Head Teacher at the Islamic school.

The program also identified and partnered other gatekeepers such as parents and religious leaders who are guardians of the mentees, for their support and acceptance. Mentors for the program safe spaces were recruited at the community level. These stakeholders accepted the program from inception and provided support for advocacy during the program launch. They committed to mobilizing and ensuring that the required number of participants were enrolled by the Program Officers at the community level and have continued to mobilize them to attend the safe space sessions. 

During the advocacy, other almajiris like Musa encountered the GIRL-H Program. These young people took an interest and became participants in the program because it offered training on life skills and financial literacy. They previously engaged in odd jobs such as nail cutting within the community to survive but they shared their desire to be educated about other business ventures and opportunities that can serve for long term sustenance.

Life after enrollment to Girl-H program intervention

Within a few months of implementation, notable changes have been observed amongst the participants. In their conversations with mentors at cohort sessions, the participants exhibit a renewed sense of determination. They express their belief that through the safe spaces, they would leave with skills and knowledge that will reduce their dependence on begging and help them stop ultimately. They have also become positive influences, and now educate their friends in similar situations, canvassing to put an end to Almajjiranci in their communities.

Speaking about his expectations, Akilu Musa says in Hausa, “I want to start a dry-cleaning business so that I can support my family and make enough money to feed on a daily basis, I do not have the materials or knowledge on how to start this business now, we have been told that this program will teach us how to run our businesses and I am really interested in the outcome".

After undergoing their mentorship and lifeskills training, the Girl-H program will allow the participant to transition to a new development pathway. This will guide them to either start a business, continue schooling or become an apprentice - for Musa, this means starting his drycleaning business.

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