Lucy Peeler reports
They made this appeal at the official opening ceremony of the First Lady’s National Girls’ Camp 2015 at the St Edwards Secondary School Hall in Kingtom, Freetown.
The ceremony which was well attended by representatives from various institutions across the country was organized by the Office of the First Lady; in collaboration with the Ministries of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and Education, Science and Technology.
Supported by the United Nations Population Fund, the initiative aims to empower girls through mentorship, building self-confidence and challenging them to discover and fulfill their potentials.
This year’s National Girls’ Camp will host 40 girls between the ages of 15 and 18 from around the country. The second in the series of this initiative, the girls will be housed for seven days in the Catholic Guest House on the school’s premises.
Speaking on behalf of the girls, a member of the camp, Marion Clarkson said, the effort by the First Lady and partners to reach out to them through this exciting, educational platform, is a stepping stone to ending the nightmare faced by girls and women in society. She noted that since the first camp in 2014, they have continued to demonstrate their ability to lead.
Ms Clarkson thanked the First Lady Sia Nyama Koroma for the scheme, and the wife of the Vice President and partners for their support in making the idea a reality. She however noted “more needs to be done”.
In her keynote address, the First Lady and brain behind the proposal said the camp was created to empower Sierra Leonean girls and create a window of opportunity for them to build their capacity in leadership qualities that will help them realise their dreams as young people.
She said this year’s camp is unique, as new modules such as climate change and leadership skills amongst other elements will be introduced. “This will create an atmosphere for critical thinking in a fun-filled and relaxed environment. It will also spur learning and encourage knowledge transfer”, the First Lady explained.
She therefore encouraged the participants to take the opportunity given to them very seriously, by attending each session and participating actively at all times. “You should always remember that education and the core values that include morality and integrity are key factors for success in life”, she lectured.
A surprise package which included school bags, football, radio sets and other items from the Chinese Embassy, formed part of the highlights of the event.