From Vision to Action: Celebrating the First Anniversary of Give Girls A Chance in Nigeria
December 1st marked the one-year anniversary of Give Girls A Chance, and we could not be more proud. What started as an idea on paper between two new friends who bonded over their shared passion to contribute to the development of their country Nigeria, has blossomed into a thriving organization. When we launched in 2016, all we had was our certificate of incorporation, a basic website, and enough money in our bank account to sponsor 10 primary school girls for a semester, two at most. Currently, we are sponsoring 40 primary and secondary school students and are committed to doing so for the remainder of their primary and secondary school journeys. Plus, we have 10 mentors who regularly volunteer their time and talents to ensure that the GGAC girls improve both academically and socially.
As we take stock of the past year and reflect on the journey so far, we would like to share some of the key lessons we have learned that have contributed to making this year a success.
Yes, we just borrowed a line from Kendrick Lamar’s hit single because it applies perfectly to this situation. Going in, we were idealistic about a lot of things. We thought “we have a great idea and we want to do good work, surely it shouldn’t be that hard to win favor and get people on our side.” We couldn’t have been more wrong. Thinking back, we didn’t expect how long it would take just to get permission from the various school boards to basically come in and bring “free money,” how many grants we would apply for and get rejected by, how many fundraising campaigns would fall short of their targets, or how much we would invest in the girls only to have some of them not do well at the end of the academic year. In the past year there have been many moments of frustration, dismay, and confusion, but it has taught us to remain humble, to know that we are not doing this for fame or recognition, and to realize that sometimes we will put in lots of efforts and not reap any rewards. I can truly say that embarking on this venture has been one of the most sobering and humbling experiences of my life and has impacted the quality of my work and commitment in all other areas of my life.
If you don’t show up, you can’t expect anyone else to. Basically, no one is going to take you or your organization seriously if they don’t have the feeling that you are putting in work. In the past year, we have sacrificed nights, weekends, and even hours during the work week towards the pursuit of making GGAC work. We have had to learn things on the fly so that we could turn around and teach others how to do what we expect. You cannot demand excellence of anyone else if you are not willing to show up, be present, and learn how to be excellent yourself.
Working in the educational development space is a tricky thing. Say you begin to sponsor a child in the 4th grade and that child starts to show improvement both in and outside the classroom. As the child’s parents and guardians become more involved in his/her development and the school begins to assume a sense of pride and increased investment in his/her life, you cannot suddenly turn around in the 5th grade and stop your sponsorship. This means that from the minute we decided to sponsor the GGAC girls, we became irrevocably intertwined in their destinies and there is no turning back. This means that we must be consistent. We must be consistent in our efforts to fund the program and to engage with the girls and their families. We must be consistent in our efforts to expand the program and make it more inclusive. We must be consistent in our efforts to support our mentors to enable them to continue providing support to the girls. It’s a lot of responsibility to assume, but knowing that we can potentially change the lives of these girls and give them to opportunity to reach for their wildest dreams is what keeps us going, even when things get rough.
Without a doubt, Give Girls A Chance would not have made it this far without the awesome team of volunteers we have working with us. From our mentors, business development representatives, communications assistant, and interns to our friends and family, we are extremely grateful to everyone who has supported us along this journey. By believing in us and supporting us to achieve our dream, they have enabled us to make the dream of getting an education a reality for a promising group of girls. Even though we remain the face of the organization, we know that we do not deserve all the praise and that we cannot take all the credit. And so we would like to use this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you for your love, for your support and for your trust. Because of you, we have and will continue to do all we can to give Nigerian girls the chance at a brighter and better future.