In 2020, Girl Up Initiative Uganda is launching its flagship program, the Adolescent Girls Program (AGP) in 20 public schools in Kampala- reaching a target of 1,600 girls! There has been a growing demand from schools to extend the AGP to their students so that they can benefit from our training and skills building program that covers different topics, such as being assertive, communication skills, body changes, leadership and so many others.
In order to become more effective and provide quality activities for the girls, we held three different capacity strengthening and relationship building engagements at the beginning of the year with the AGP Coaches (facilitators) and teachers to adequately prepare them for the exciting year ahead.
We started with our Coaches Bootcamp- a training of trainers for AGP Coaches from January 28-30, 2020. Our team selected and trained an additional 12 young women from the local community to support the old AGP coaches in facilitating the training sessions. Thank to this extra support, we are now able to reach over 1,600 girls in 20 schools with a total of 23 vibrant young women Coaches. The growth is really enormous and we are all very excited!
The purpose of the Coaches Bootcamp was to train and build the capacities of the new coaches in interactive and engaging facilitation skills, counseling, mentorship and all the topics found in the AGP curriculum to enable them to effectively disseminate accurate and correct information to the adolescent girls. The 3-day training was officially opened by Monica Nyiraguhabwa, our Executive Director and led by myself, Joan Atimango, a Program Officer.
The bootcamp commenced with fun introductions where each young woman had to share her name, hobbies, and what inspires her to work in communities. Expectations for the bootcamp were shared and what really stood out was the desire from the new coaches to gain more knowledge and skills to effectively engage and support the girls.
The training also gave the old AGP coaches an opportunity to facilitate or model different sessions so that the new coaches could pick up a skill or two. There were many discussions where the different coaches were divided into groups and each given an opportunity to discuss and present before the others. This was such a supportive and inclusive approach because it gave each coach the opportunity to speak and supported the learning amongst the participants.
The Boy Champion facilitators, Abel and Ivan, also stepped in to introduce the Boy Champions Project to the coaches. This year, GUIU is bringing on board a new approach in a few of the schools where the AGP girls and the Boy Champions will come together for Gender Dialogues and play against one another in Gender Sports Matches.
After the bootcamp, it was observed that the new coaches had gained more knowledge and skills on the AGP curriculum and were more confident than before. Bronia Assimwe, a newly trained AGP Coach shared with us:
“Before the training, I actually thought I just have to go to a given school, teach the girls and go, but I learnt it is more than just that. I learnt that I have to be well equipped with accurate and right information before I engage with the girls. I also learnt more in the topic of life skills and how important they are especially when dealing with the young girls in school. The training was really informative and I’m now ready to train the girls.”
In the implementation of our program activities, we collaborate with different stakeholders who contribute hugely towards the success of our work, and teachers play a huge role in our in-school programs! Therefore, on January 31, 2020, we held a teachers meeting to bring together male and female teachers from the different schools that we work with to share their views and ideas regarding the Adolescent Girls Program and the Boy Champions Program.
During the meeting, the teachers shared their experiences and success stories, provided feedback on the previous year’s activities, and developed strategies on how to strengthen the programs in 2020. Working closely with these teachers has been a key to our success and helped us create a solid relationship with the girls, boys, parents, and school administration. As we strengthen the capacity of teachers and regularly involve them in activities, we are ensuring that proper knowledge and information flows to students.
Teacher Beatrice from Bright Angels Junior School, shared about the important role teachers play in children’s lives:
“We have to approach children with love. Many don’t get the opportunity to talk to their parents about issues that may be affecting them so the responsibility remains with us the teachers to guide these young girls and boys.”
Lastly, from February 12-13, 2020, we held a two-day sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) training for the AGP Coaches that was facilitated by Olivia Mugabirwe.
The training aimed to build the knowledge, skills, and confidence among the coaches in integrating SRHR into their work. It included facilitation and group discussions where the coaches freely discussed different topics such as gender, hygiene, and sex.
They also got the chance to share their different experiences, asks questions, and come up with solutions. For instance, the coaches came up with the idea of creating an SRH question bank to store the questions asked by the different girls so that the coaches can find answers and support other coaches who may be asked the same questions in the future.
GUIU takes strengthening and building the capacities of our coaches and stakeholders seriously! It facilitates growth, learning, and the chance to think differently. With all this capacity strengthened, we believe our coaches are ready to do amazing work. Our team is super excited about what 2020 has in stock for us. Watch this space for more updates!