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Help Us Bring Home the Junior Chamber International Award

So, we just woke up to news that our founder, Esther Ejiroghene Ajari, has been nominated for the Junior Chamber International (JCI) “Ten Outstanding Young Persons in Nigeria” award under the “World Peace” category.

Guys, we need your help to win this prestigious award.

The Junior Chamber International Ten Outstanding Young Persons (JCI TOYP) programme serves to formally recognize young people who excel in their chosen fields and create positive change. By recognizing these young people, JCI raises the status of socially responsible leaders in this world. The honourees motivate their peers to seek excellence and serve others. Their stories of discovery, determination and ingenuity inspire young people to be better leaders and create better societies.

This year, JCI Nigeria received over 2,400 nominations across categories and our founder has been shortlisted in the top 20. She has been nominated for the JCIN TOYP award because she provides a fitting role model for other young people by causing them to aspire for a better future and society, a mission we believe you share with our organization.

Are you psyched yet? We know we are.

Kindly follow the simple steps below to vote for her:

1. Click on this link: https://poll.jci.ng

2. Scroll down the list of nominees and tick the circle close to my name, “Esther Ejiroghene Ajari

3. Scroll to the end of the list and click on “Vote”

That’s it. That’s all you have to do to help us bring the award home. Thanks!

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Project Alpha

Project alpha, the Launchpad project of The TriHealthon focused on one of the goals of the organization which is “END CHILD MALNUTRITION”. The project was carried out to create awareness of malnutrition among the populace.

According to World Health Organization, Nigeria has the second highest burden of stunted children in the world, with a national prevalence rate of 32% of children under five also an estimated 2 million children in Nigeria suffer from severe acute malnutrition.

The project was carried out on 5th February, 2019 at the ante-natal clinic of Adeoyo State Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.

The core team members at the Adeoyo State hospital

Members of The TriHealthon who were present includes;

§     Miss AJARI, Esther

§     Mr IBIKUNLE, Oreoluwa

§     Miss OLUYOLE, Anjolaoluwa

§     Mr ANIMASHAUN, Daniel

§     Mr OLUGBILE, Dolapo

§     Mr OJO, Oluwadamilare

§     Mr BAMIGBOYE, Moses

§     Mr TEJIRI, Great

§     Mr KAZEEM, Oluwatobiloba

The plans of actions were that

§     Individuals were assigned different topics to prepare on and present anti-natal clinic.

§     Questions would be asked at the end of all the topic presentations.

§  Gift would be given to the anyone with highest number of correctly answered questions so as to ensure maximal participation.

§     Give a printed copy of locally available food combination for supplementary feeding  to mother. Check out the soft copy of this document at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Zf6gAeQIMNNI1X5_dqqDK1nImxnpxKwD

Presentation of gifts to the best participants during the quiz session

The topics discussed include;

§     Breastfeeding techniques

§     How to monitor nutritional status of children

§     Various diseases of malnutrition

§     Malnutrition in pregnancy

§     Cheap local food combination for adequate nutrient

The outreach took place at Adeoyo state hospital on 5th February, 2019 at the antenatal clinic. It started some minutes past 8am and lasted about an hour. 150 pregnant women were present for the outreach and the aforementioned topics were discussed. Questions were asked for clarity and appropriate answers were given. There was a quiz at the end of the discussion and gifts were given to three participants with the highest scores. 

Damilare in an intense educative session with the women
The question and answer session

The challenges faced were;

§     Language barrier: most members of the association had difficulty in communicating in the local dialect, hence, the need for an interpreter during the presentation.

§     Transportation: members had to take public transport to the venue. This resulted in variable time of arrival. Though, the take-off point (University College Hospital, Ibadan) is close to the venue of the outreach, a chartered bus would have reduced the mental and physical stress that members of the association went through in trying to get to the venue.

A participant translating our sessions from English to Yoruba

RECOMMENDATION

§     Early and proper fund raising plans for future projects

§     A chartered bus should be used for conveying members/ volunteers for upcoming projects

CONCLUSION

Project alpha was a success because everyone contributed to it. I would like to appreciate everyone for the part they played. Making impact in our immediate environment is important and would not cost so much. A lot of people can be brought out of the well of ignorance by our wealth of knowledge in the health profession. The more we give ourselves to making impact, the change we expect or look forward to gradually appears.

Check out more pictures of the Project Alpha at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1_3KCKRx4x6W7_OJFzeBSb9mSZ3n5Irin

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THE KaGDaC Project

Abstract

From a study conducted by the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) network, 2 in every 3 African girls do not use sanitary pads for their menstrual flow management because they cannot afford it. They use unhygienic alternatives like newspaper, plantain leaves, cotton wool etc. This is a popular health issue whose solution has eluded us because interventions being carried out are not sustainable. After the pads distributed during the interventions are exhausted, the girls lapse back into their unhygienic habits. I am very passionate about solving this problem because I used to be one of the 2 girls in the 2:3 ratio.

I finally found the solution to this problem during my volunteering days at Huyslink, an NGO in Uganda. Huyslink makes biodegradable sanitary pads which can be reused for up to 12 months. I was opportune to learn how to make these reusable pads. Through the KaDGaC project, I will teach African girls (aged 8-19 years) how to make these pads for themselves with local materials. I can indirectly reach out to most African girls by organizing workshops for their teachers. By providing this skill to their teachers, these girls will have an unlimited access to the pad making skill at their various schools. This proposal describes the phase I of the KaDGaC project scheduled to hold from September, 2019 to September, 2020 in the Ibadan community of Oyo State, Nigeria.

The content of this project proposal includes;

  • Our Modified UNESCO Social Impact Initiative Pitch Worksheet (page 1-3)
  • Our Pitch (page 4-5)
  • The KaDGaC Project Timeline (page 6-8)
  • The KaDGaC Project Budget (page 9-10)

Read the complete project proposal at https://drive.google.com/file/d/16L81YDgv51s-B49jGHFPelCPsW2OTPkc/view?usp=drivesdk

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RED-The Story

Why didn’t he affirm that her red is of fire and power, of energy and strength, of warmth and vibrance, of love and life?

She looked at them keenly. She searched for nonexistent answers on their faces. Their eyes returned the gesture but with a tint of disgust. She remembers that it hurts looking at them. She could feel a tightening sense of inadequacy around her chest, enough to make her gasp for air. It was obvious Mr. Kene was oblivious of what was happening in his classroom. This was evident from the loud applause he, and only he, gave her whilst saying, “Wow, Esther! You really exceeded my expectations this time”. This could have been her crowning moment in secondary school; having Mr. Kene, the man who could never be pleased, applaud her work so loudly in front of her peers was a rare moment but far was it from blissful.

I arrived at Merit Mixed Secondary School with a suitcase in hand, a prayer in heart, and a task ahead, the task of proving to my pessimistic parents that their 10 year old daughter would not lose herself in a city far away from home. At the time, I had only one dream (okay, maybe two); to make my parents proud and to work on my self-esteem. Ese, my best friend at the time would always taunt me, saying, “Esther cares too much about her parent’s opinion of her even though they could care less about her existence”.  She taunts me this way because, after our dormitory’s welcoming orientation on menstrual hygiene, I confided in her that my parents could not afford to buy me menstrual sanitary products. She was, however, of the opinion that there is no justifying reason for a parent to neglect providing one of the basic necessities of life for their girl child. This is an opinion I imagined she formed from years of sitting on the high pedestal her parents so “generously” provided her with.

Anyway, one would expect I would give her a good beating for her foul mouth but I never did. After all, she was right to some extent, and most importantly, the school’s code of conduct for scholarship students explicitly stated that fighting leads to an automatic scholarship withdrawal. I could not joke with my express ticket out of my hometown where nothing ever happens now, could I?

Just so you know, Ese and I were not always best of friends. In fact, we had our falling out a few times too many but this narrative changed for good when she offered to give me some of her menstrual sanitary products every month. She decided to do this because she was scared for my health considering the fact that I used pieces of my old cloths for my menstrual hygiene management. Because of her generosity, I continually blessed the day I met her, that is until she left me to go abroad with her parents. I cannot remember for sure if my loud weeping was due to the fact that my best friend was leaving or because my free sanitary pad supply had come to an abrupt end. Either ways, I was back to square one and my tear glands fully expressed how I felt.

To forget my woes, I drowned myself in perfecting Mr. Kene’s project assignment before the next school day which happened to be the much anticipated exhibition day.

On the morning of the exhibition day, I woke up all gloomy, not knowing what was wrong. “I gave my best to this assignment but why don’t I feel so good”, I asked myself. With no answer in sight, I dragged my slob of a self out of my bed and to the dining hall. Immediately, I sat down at the dining table, I felt it! That monthly red reminder, the one that tells me I am a woman, was beckoning at my door. “Oh no, I hope no one saw the blood stain? Calm down Esther, if they did see it, everyone, especially the boys, would have left the table for you”, I said under my breath.

You might think I was overthinking the situation but I was not. It was 2008 and menstruation was a huge taboo, not to be spoken of, and the product of which was certainly not to be seen. So, I excused myself from indulging in breakfast that morning and I ran as fast as I could back to my dormitory. I must have spent over 40 minutes having my bath. This is longer than usual because I had to take extra care in washing the red abomination off me. Since I had discarded my old menstrual cloths when Ese was still around, I took the only available option, a roll of tissue paper, folded it into the shape of a pad and wore it. I remember nodding to myself with so much satisfaction and saying, “not today, devil, not today”. I guess it was actually “today”.

“Esther, you can go back to your seat now. See me after the class for your grand prize”, Mr. Kene said, jolting her back to reality. As she walked back to her seat, Mr. Kene had a rude awakening of the situation while everyone else started laughing at her. Her seatmate excused himself from their seat ostracizing her like a widow who had just been caught with another man two days after the death of her husband.

Moments later, Mr. Kene walked up to her and gave her a scarf to cover her blood stained white skirt. Then, he asked her to go wait in the toilet while he fetches a female teacher. She tried, she really did try to move but her knees were weak and her body failed her. Eventually, she started crying and it was in that moment, not a second after, that she clearly understood what people mean when they say, “I wish the ground just opens up beneath me”. She prayed fervently to God to make her disappear into thin air but I guess it truly was a day for the devil.

Her weary body was on the verge of crossing the finish line, one that had witnessed the downfall of many before her who got hurt on a race track meant to be benign.

As the gest from her classmates died down after months of progressive bullying, the feeling of her not belonging in that school never went away. This feeling was strong enough to make her sit out three consecutive school days during her menstrual period every month. She would hide in the dormitory toilet until everyone had gone to school. Then, she would reveal herself, heave a sigh of relief and fall asleep on her bed. No one could account for her whereabouts on those days and in fact, no one cared.

Why didn’t Mr. Kene do more than ask her to go wait in the toilet? Was he ashamed of her too? Why didn’t he scold those mean kids? Why didn’t he shout it at the rooftop or perhaps in his Basic Science classes that menstruation is a beautiful preamble to life? Did he understand this himself? Why didn’t he assure me that I would never have to recount the events of that moment in third person? I wish he didn’t leave me with so many unanswered questions.

On the next parent visitation day, I begged my mum fervently to allow me change schools. But she said, “This is an unreasonable request, no other school in Delta State is better than Merit and most importantly, who would offer you a full scholarship at midterm?” She was right! I reckoned that I would be trading in my future for a shot at not being “Miss Unpopular” at school. So, I let it be.  However, I ended up spending the next 6 years of my life, ones I will never get back, as an outsider looking in, a spectator in my own life story, a she not an I.

There are a lot of things I would have changed about my secondary school experience but nothing comes close to the utter lack of provision of menstrual sanitary products for girls in my school, and the unpreparedness of my teachers to handle sensitive situations involving students. The grandeur of self-esteem diminishment that comes from standing in front of a class full of unkind children who did not understand the beauty of menstruation, the power or the message behind it, is close to none. It breaks you no matter your resolve, and it ruins you, making you see life from a lens you shouldn’t even have at age 10. Oh, how I wish I can go back and change that moment but since I can’t, I can at least change the future.

-Esther Ajari

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JOYFUL PAIN

This was the kind of pain

That could turn blood lines to blurred scribblings,

And admiration, to disdain.

It could turn the flames of love, into frosty feelings


It could make you drenched

With heavy downpours of scorn,

Like a person, devoid of a shed;

Vulnerable to the merciless rainstorm


She never expected that, a bag full of agony

Would be the price for euphoria.

But the foreseen joy was more than any kind of fee

Life would require of her


Her weary body

Was about to cross the finish line

That had witnessed the downfall of so many

Who got hurt, on a race track that was meant to be benign


Her pain-induced euphoria

Was heralded by cries of hurt;

Not from her,

But from a new cohort.


The vapid designs and homely decoration

Were the legacies left by the surgeon.

-Animashaun Daniel

Virginity Sales: A Poverty Alleviation Scheme or a Morality Watchdog?

He cuddled her and whispered, “I love you”. There was a long interlude between his proclamation and her, unexpectedly, saying she has to go.  As she stood up from the bed to wear her clothes, she wondered if he meant what he said. “God knows I love him but how do I tell him he has to pay for my virginity?”, she muttered to herself. He offered to drive her home but she refused because she didn’t want him seen by her parents. She is 21 but her parents still consider her a baby. They expect her to remain a virgin until marriage. However, if she doesn’t, the boy responsible for her virginity loss must perform the traditional rights.

As her taxi skidded across town, she reached for her phone and sent him a text.

“I should have told you earlier that as an Oghara girl, you have to come with your parents to my house to perform the traditional rights as regarding my virginity which you just took”.

He is an Igbo boy from Enugu State so he is not accustomed to the traditions of the Urhobo people of Oghara, Delta State. In fact, no non-indigene of the Oghara community is familiar with this tradition, except those who have had to pay the so-called virginity money. This tradition is so unique to the Oghara community that no other Urhobo clan practises it.

“You haven’t replied my text, whatsup?”, she asked via another text six hours later.

“Please, don’t avoid paying my virginity money to my parents because if you do, bad things will start happening to you and your family”, she continued.

“Still no reply? Well, I have done my part. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when dark clouds starts cycling around you”, she ended.

Worry kept her up all night. In the morning, she offered to go to the market, a task she hates doing. On returning from the market, she met unfamiliar foot wears at the door of her house. She entered to meet him and his parents discussing with her parents. She heard her father say, “You know she is a medical student so her virginity money is considerably higher than the average Oghara girl”. She felt disgusted. “How could her father, a Ph.D holder, be a slave to such an archaic tradition”, she wondered.

Her story goes on but pertinent questions must be asked at this juncture. Considering that the rate of premarital sex in Oghara is just as high as in other parts of Nigeria, is the popular argument that the tradition of virginity money reduces the rate of premarital sex logical? What about boys, who pays for their virginity? Is premarital sex even a bad thing? For the average Oghara family, is this tradition not just a poverty alleviation scheme? I don’t know the answers to these questions but I do know that this practice is a subtle form of gender-based violence.

By Esther Ajari

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