On February 8th, Ashley Gannon (PST-25) and 10 girls and boys in her marathoner’s club participated in the Parakou Marathon.
The aim of this project was to promote team building of mixed gendered students through overcoming adversity. Along with promoting co-ed activities, this project encouraged students to participate in physical activities both for health benefits as well as for fun.
This project was well-supported by the school and the community both morally and financially: the director of the CEG helped chaperone the event in Parakou as well as frequently participated in training the runners; the transportation was fully funded by the community; the CEG donated the funds to sponser two extra students so that 10 could attend instead of eight.
GSP funds went toward lodging, entry fees, food and water.
In July and August, Ian Booth worked with HCN counterparts and fellow PCVs in four different villages to train groups of women on how to store tomatoes in jars. The main goal was to equip women with the knowledge necessary to jar tomatoes either for sale or for home use during the dry season. With a relatively small input of funds, Ian and his partners were able to implement a hands-on training that was simple, efficient, and focused entirely on skills transfer.
Ian hopes that some women will put this skill to use to develop small businesses in their respective villages.
In October, Shannon Smith (PST-25) worked with professors and students from four schools to organize a handball tournament. Each school provided one boys team and one girls team with 10 players on each team. A series of games was organized between each school, six games total for boys and six for girls. A final was played between the two highest ranking teams and the players from the winning teams received school supplies(Vrai desinateur, notebooks and pens) purchased by the GenEq Small Projects grant.
A number of discussions on gender equality and sexual health were held throughout the tournament. There was one presentation by a girl who was a former student and athlete at one of the schools. She spoke about her experiences, the challenges she faced and benefits of participating in sports. An Amour et Vie team presented on sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Other discussions included sexual harassment in school, sexual relations while in school and girls’ studies.
In collaboration with a secondary school, Amber Prainito EA-25 organized an event for the International Day of the Girl on October 11th. Amber worked with students who had already participated in Peace Corps programs like Amour & Vie and the Student Internship Program to create speeches and sketches in order to share what they had learned during these programs. These focused particularly on the importance of girls education. According to Amber, “The International Girls’ Day event went great! Students performed sketches and gave speeches about the importance of education, sexual harassment, the rights of women and children, hygiene, leadership, etc. Over 400 people came to watch and learn.”
In May, Bethany Boyer-Rechlin organized two panel discussions with professional women for girls in her community, held in the “Maison de Jeunes”. All the girls in CE2, CM1, CM2, and CEG (6e-4e) were invited to attend. The women attending were from various career backgrounds: one employee of the mayor’s office, two adult literacy teachers, one primary school teacher, and a woman who works for an NGO. The speakers were asked to explain their personal career paths and share advice for how to succeed and stay in school. As a thank-you gift for the speakers, they printed T-shirts that read “Je Suis Une Mama Modele”. Bethany held a T-shirt design contest with the CEG students, and the girl who submitted a winning design was given a copy and assisted in presenting the shirts to the speakers.
From May to June, Alyssa Young (PST 25 in Sori) worked with members of her community (primarily moto/taxi drivers, mechanics, and high school students) to paint a wall mural of a new mother utilizing a mosquito net. The idea of the project was to reinforce the importance of sleeping under a mosquito net for new and pregnant mothers, as they are the populations most at risk for contracting malaria. The participants in the project were not new or expecting mothers themselves, but rather the husbands, sons, and daughters of such women in the community. The idea was to expose non-target populations to a problem to which they normally may not have been exposed.
During the second semester of the last school year, Serena Cheung (PST 24 in Djougou) facilitated a business club with 15 male and female seconde and premiere students at CEG 1 in Djougou. The primary goal of the business club was to impart practical business skills to students at an early age through a hands-on approach so that they will be well-equipped to manage their personal finances and to partake in any income generating activities. Moreover, the business club’s aim was to inspire an entrepreneurial spirit among the participants, while fostering teamwork, creativity and gender equality.
The business club was designed for seconde and première students because they are a more mature audience than first cycle students, and business concepts are more pertinent to their lives as they are beginning to think about potential income generating opportunities post-graduation. Topics that were covered during the business club included entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing, budgeting, business plans, and public speaking. The club met weekly for two hours at the CEG.