Warren support 17 year old Nasira, through Action Aid

7th June 2018

We always look forward to the letters we receive from the women and girls supported by the Next Step initiative in Ghana. Through our support of the charity Action Aid, we receive regular updates on the activities of the charity and how they work with women to improve their lives and hopefully, to help them realise their dreams.

We would like to share with you the experiences of 17 year old Nasira, in her own words.

"Hello from Ghana! My name is Nasira and I am 17 years old. I was elected the Senior School Prefect at my school. I am excited to be sharing this news with you, as it is something that I never imagined could happen to me. It only came about because of the support I received from ActionAid through their Next Step programme here in Ghana, so Beatrice Biije from ActionAid asked me if I would share my story with you. From a small child I have always been a reserved shy person. I was unable to stand up, speak out in class, and found it incredibly difficult to talk to people outside of my family.

Looking back, I think I got my shyness from my mother, who was also very quiet. When we were out, she used to say to me, “if you keep quiet, mind your own business and stay out of sight, you won't have any trouble.” I guess her words really stuck with me. If I was teased at school or had a problem, I just kept it to myself. But things began to change when I went to Senior High in 2015. It was here that I was introduced to the Young Female Parliament (YFP), a group formed by ActionAid for young girls. It offered us a place where we could meet, chat about our issues and develop our leadership skills.

During my second meeting, I was introduced to Nafisah; she was the first ever female senior school prefect and was also a member of my group. We got on really well and soon became good friends. She was much bolder than me and was always encouraging me to tell others about my ideas. Over time, what I have found was that the more I spoke out the more confident I became.

At our group meetings, ActionAid would regularly arrange for inspirational women to come and talk to us. They would share their experiences to build our confidence and show us a world outside of the one we knew. There is one particular event that sticks in my mind; it was the day that a young female doctor came to talk to us. Her name was Dr Abiti and she inspired me with her experiences – she spoke to us about how, whilst studying medicine, she had become the first female national secretary of the Federation of Medical Students’ Union in Ghana. After the meeting, I approached her and thanked her for coming to speak to us — we talked further, about her achievements and my dreams. She told me to aim high and to believe in myself and my abilities.

Last year the ideal opportunity came along-our headmaster announced in assembly that it was time for our school's annual school prefect elections. I decided to go for it. I spoke with the patron of our YFP and her simple response encouraged me even more, “If Nafisah has done it, why can't you? Go for it!” I spoke with the other girls at the group about my intention to run for school prefect and they agreed that I would be perfect for the role-in fact most of them actively campaigned for me, by encouraging their friends to vote for me too. The final day of the campaign arrived and it was my turn to stand up during assembly, to convince the other students to vote for me. At the end of my speech I got a standing ovation. This had never happened to a girl at my school before and this support was reflected when the votes were counted up the next day. I won! There had been three candidates, I was the only girl and I won. I couldn’t believe it; I was now the school’s senior prefect.

My success is totally down to the YFP meetings that I attended and the support and guidance the group leaders gave me. I no longer sit quietly in class, letting others talk over me. I now have the confidence to ask and answer questions which has seen my grades improve. I no longer find it too difficult to talk to people that I don’t know.

I am looking forward with confidence, to the future when I finish school this year. I am fully aware that my new-found self is due to the generous support I received from ActionAid’s supporters. This support of the Young Female Parliament is helping many young girls, like me, to develop their full potential. I am extremely thankful.”

If Nasira's story has inspired you, read more at  - www.actionaid.org.uk

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