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Building skills to last a lifetime

POSTED October 3, 2019

Building skills to last a lifetime

How a week away at camp gave teen girls the training and confidence to earn income

By Christelle Kalhoulé, director, West Africa

I met Neimata as she was joyfully setting a colourful fabric on a display board at the Hope Center of Zorgho in Burkina Faso. The textile was beautifully designed; I could see it was made with lots of care. “I handmade it myself,” the teen whispered. “You are such an artist!,” I replied, surprised to discover all she had learned in just one week.

A week earlier, Neimata and 57 other sponsored youth, between the ages of 14 and 18, were preparing to attend a camp we offered with our local partner, ACCED. The challenge? Teach them valuable skills to earn an income. To reach this goal, a group of advisors and trainers shared their expertise in fabric dyeing and printing, hairdressing, cooking and soap-making.

The mini getaway was also an opportunity to reinforce social skills and raise awareness of important matters such as being a good citizen by participating in community life, as well as sexual and reproductive health.

I was delighted to spend the last day of camp with the girls, talk to them, listen to their challenges and encourage them to reach for success. We discussed how important it was to have female role models to show them it’s possible to succeed in our context.

The girls went on and on about what they learned during the week and how much their lives would change when they got home. I felt like a proud mother.

We talked about how important it is for girls to be educated in every way — in the classroom and outside the classroom where they can improve their social skills and ability to earn income. Giving the girls this time together to learn and grow was a big step towards empowerment and gender equality.

They were grateful to learn skills like making liquid and solid soap so their families could save money. Then, of course, they can sell the soap they make in their communities. Besides making soap, the girls can practice and master other talents they learned after they finish their formal education.

It was a joy to be part of the closing ceremony and hear about the overall experience from campers like Alima, who summed up the week well: “When I was coming to camp, I did not know anything of what I learned,” she began. “In one week, I discovered and practised how to dye clothes. Now, I see it as a new perspective for my future.” 

Challenge met. Kudos team!

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ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE (formerly Christian Children's Fund of Canada):

Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For nearly 60 years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.