BONGA GIRLS EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM
Bonga was created to challenge the perception that girls are an economic burden and teach the girls ways to combat the negative consequences of poverty and oppressive cultural practices. Basic literacy and numeracy skills, life and occupational skills are imparted unto these girls through a 9 months period empowering them to be responsible citizens and making a contribution towards the development of their communities.
The Problem Adolescent girls continue to be one of the most vulnerable groups in Tanzania and East Africa in general. In rural areas, there’s still much need to sensitize communities to see the girl child as valuable and important. Sadly, many are ending up married off young for wealth. They do not participate in family and community decision making, even on issues related to their own lives. The schools in rural areas leave much to be desired in terms of hygiene and convenience for girls in puberty. The Bonga Adolescent Girls’ Empowerment Program seeks to address the challenges faced by the adolescent girl. The plight of the adolescent girls in Singida is very startling. From 2017 to 2019 The Bonga Adolescent Girls’ Empowerment Program has been implemented in Singida Region in two districts namely Singida District and Singida Municipal Council where over 265 girls from 5 wards namely Mtinko,Kijota,Mandewa,Majengo and Ipembe where so many girls have not had a chance to start or finish their education have been economically and socially empowered through an informal nine months learning program. They have been able to utilize the skills to gain employment and even set up their own enterprises. The range of skills in which they have received training, include Batique and Liquid Soap making, Beautician and Saloon, Bakery and Catering,Knitting and tailoring. We have set up Bonga fora (Follow Up Centres) for continuous experience sharing and advocacy on issues affecting the girl child, children and women. Senior members in the communities where Bonga has been implemented have greatly appreciated it to the extent of replicating it for other girls who missed in the previous enrolments. Through their own initiative (95% community support) centers have been replicated where we have managed to train the Super Girls (facilitators) who are in charge of the established new centres.
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"Empower a girl and she will change the world"
Bonga Forum is a follow-up program, is a subset of the Bonga Project. The program is after Bonga skill, where graduated, adolescent girls from two or more Bonga centres come together and make a forum. The main purpose is to link amongst themselves and others for conducting Income Generating Activities (IGAs), advocacy issues and conduct saving and lending in their groups
Every month, there has to be a super girl, she is chosen by other girls to lead all Forum activities within a month, and this is done rotational.
Activities in Bonga Forum:
Conduct Income Generating Activities (IGAs) and link amongst themselves and others
Mobilization and advocacy on issues affecting the communities
Meet and discuss issues they have been learning during life skills
Take part in savings and lending activities
Enroll and train other girls from the community on the issues they have learnt during life skills and vocational skills training
The girls are grouped in smaller groups first, according to their trades to better manage themselves. In these groups they are mixed, so that they can learn from each other. Every week, girls meet together for savings and lending activities which is very essential for the sustainability of the forum.
Engagement of Local government authority and FST in the forum is a key to their sustainability.
Today SEMA has managed to form 2 forums ,1 in Mtinko Ward found in Singida District Council and 1 in Singida Municipal Council with the total of 101 girls.
The Bonga girls have been conducting various community outreaches and advocacies on addressing different issues in the community. This has helped the communities to change and abandon practices which are harmful to girls such as early marriages, female genital mutilation and other gender violence-based issues in the community.
Bonga girls in the forum have managed to establish various income generating activities centers, basing on their trade they received during technical skills training.