Thursday, 3 November 2016

Super Girl of The Month - Nina Mbah

"It is unfair to compare the beginning of your journey to the middle of someone else's...You start, grow, and then become an expert. Lets not forget to take it one step at a time."

The first of 3 children, Nina Mbah was born in Kaduna - a major city in Nigeria’s Northwestern region. However, she traces her family’s ancestry to Achina in Anambra State, South Eastern Nigeria. Nina became exposed to the dividends of Education at a very tender age, being born into a family of passionate educationists. From her fond childhood memories, the importance of education meant her ability to do basic calculations of money received from customers while assisting at her mother's shop after school, communicating in proper English, and receiving gifts from her parents after bringing home an excellent result at the end of each academic term.

Our super girl is a professional Quantity Surveyor, who practices as a passionate Education Entrepreneur. Very often, she experiences the inability to respond explicitly when confronted with the question "what do you want to become in life?". Perhaps, this is because she always expects the question to be paraphrased as "what problems would you like to solve?". Ms Mbah was prompted to engage in some reflection and critical thinking, after seeing the Disney Channel movie "Jump In", where young people competed and were awarded for simply skipping ropes. She became concerned and uncomfortable by the constant brain drain in Nigeria, largely due to the Nigerian society's inability to recognize, encourage, and develop young talents. With this in mind, Nina geared up to champion a new era of talent recognition in her home country.
Nina Mbah experienced her eureka moment as a secondary school teacher during her compulsory National Youth Service in Funtua, Katsina State (Nigeria). After observing the complacent attitude of her students towards learning, she was inspired to replicate one of her parents' teaching methods - rewarding excellence, a major factor which contributed to her personal growth. She set up a regular classroom competition where she rewarded top performing students with lunch snacks, in order to encourage learning during her lessons. Experiencing the impact of this pilot initiative firsthand, Nina confirmed the popular saying that failure to reward excellence is another way of encouraging mediocrity. 
What began as small-scale classroom competitions soon grew into an inter-school academic contest across the state known as "Nina Prize". Nina Prize focuses on connecting inspired donors/sponsors to talented young people, to ensure that educational scholarships serve as the motivation and spring board to even greater success.So far Nina Prize has brought together 27 schools in Funtua Katsina state, rewarding 9 contestants with educational scholarships.
Connecting the dots backwards, Nina affirms that engaging with several networks consisting of like-minds has equipped her with the ability to seek out problems and convert them to opportunities. She has leveraged on several cross-cutting platforms, in order to sharpen her skills and pursue personal development. At the tender age of ten, Nina Mbah represented her school during the United Nations Day celebration, which was aired on the National Television Station. As a secondary school student, she was a delegate at the Nigerian Model United Nations. In 2014, Nina was nominated as a Global Youth Ambassador for A World at School, a youth education advocacy program launched by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Special Envoy on Education, Gordon Brown. In this position, she had the opportunity to raise over 5000 signatures in support of the #UpForSchool global petition which was submitted by the Global Youth Ambassadors at the UN General Assembly in September 2015.

Also, Nina participated in the premier edition of the Young Women in Dignity (YOWDI) program, an annual initiative which serves as a platform for young women to pitch ideas and solutions on how best to engage government and policymakers, especially regarding challenges facing young women which undermine their dignity and full participation in Nigeria's democratic governance. Recently, she served as a rapporteur at the Nigerian Education Innovation Summit where she was opportune to learn about various education interventions being implemented in Nigeria as well as different approaches to scaling up.

In all her engagements, Nina's intentional habit to constantly reach out to more experienced individuals for mentorship is a success habit worthy of mention. Earlier in the year, Ms Mbah was selected (alongside 11 outstanding female entrepreneurs) to join the African Women Mentoring Network. Via the Network, she receives mentorship from selected Mandela Washington Fellows and other reputable entrepreneurs and business managers in Nigeria.

We are super proud of Nina Mbah, and her contagious zeal to cultivate Nigeria's young talents!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Super Girl of The Month - Lombe Tembo

"Young leaders are usually faced with the challenge of choice. Sometimes, they lose sight of why they started doing something and end up being swayed by what they are expected to do instead, or follow the crowd and end up pursuing other people’s dreams. In some cases, young leaders get to a point where it stops being about how they can help other people, but more of what is in it for them...the personal gain that they will attain."

Lombe Tembo hails from Zambia, the land of the legendary African walking safari. Born into a close-knit family of six, she grew up to become a wallflower, a painfully shy child. She however began to ask herself in her late teen years, what unique thing she was going to commit her life to doing. 

Ms Tembo, a trained Economist, found it burdensome when people expected her to follow the path often traveled -  graduate from the university, and immediately get a job in a bank. Despite this expectation from family and friends, she pressed on to explore the concept of "development" which was not so clear to her at that time. Determined to make a difference, Lombe began her leadership journey by volunteering her time and skills across several causes and organizations committed to the development of young people. Her volunteering experiences broadened her world view, opened her up to a new phase of learning, and renewed her commitment to helping people in meaningful ways.

Even though she received deep fulfillment from working in the development field,  she was pressured to take up corporate work in the bank, due to numerous financial needs. After a few months, Lombe Tembo made the daring decision to shelve her role at the bank for 100% commitment to youth development and advocacy. This decision came with a lot of public ridicule and general disapproval, particularly from her peers. There were many demotivating moments and days of severe financial lack. Despite being a passionate youth worker, it was hard to access the opportunities she desired and achieving personal and professional growth seemed impossible. Lombe's confidence dropped to an all time low upon receiving series of rejection letters for opportunities in the development space. Nevertheless, she remained resolute and thrived on the support of understanding family and friends who offered her guidance and served as her enduring support system.

Our Super Girl's big breakthrough came when she was invited to the United Nations, to speak about youth priorities in the General Assembly Hall. She was subsequently accepted into several youth programs, which gave her the network, resources, and platform to contribute even more positively to her country and community.

Lombe is currently a member of the United Nations Youth Partnership Platform along with 22 other young Zambians, working in an advisory capacity with UN agencies in Zambia. She is also a member of the Queen’s Young Leaders Advisory Panel, and is the vice chairperson of the Street Culture Youth Foundation. 

She enjoys reading, cooking, and traveling. Regardless of the low moments, she strongly believes that her life journey is an amazing one, with every situation bearing unique lessons.
In her words, "I remind myself continuously that everyone has a different story and trying to measure my success by looking at when other people achieved their dreams is a recipe for disaster."

Girl Pride Circle is proud of Lombe Tembo's strong resolve to follow her dreams. Indeed, she proves to all girls across Africa that there is no such thing as an invalid dream!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Super Girl of The Month - Salimatou Fatty

Salimatou Fatty was born to her Muslim parents - Aja Jarra Ceesay and Late Alhajie Saikou Fatty in Kerewan Village, North Bank Division of The Gambia. Growing up as the 7th of her mother's 9 children, Salimatou experienced early in life, the ordeal of struggling to earn a honest living. While other children played in their free time, she was responsible for supporting her mum in petty trading. From as little as 6 years old, Salimatou would wake up between 5-6am everyday to accompany her sisters to the farm in order to harvest items for morning sales, before heading to school. Indeed, these early lessons on hard work formed the pillar of her upbringing. Salimatou also recognizes her mother as her greatest inspiration, for her resilience in ensuring that all her children had access to quality education.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Super Girl of The Month - Sarah-Leigh Nangombe Elago

"Afrikan youth have cried, stumbled, and fallen...but we NEVER give up, WE RISE!"

Strong, resolute, and ambitious Sarah-Leigh Nangombe Elago was born in Swakopmund, Namibia as the last born of 8 children. Born to a midwife and an electrical engineer, she grew up in a neighborhood called Mondesa where there were few opportunities, but she quickly learnt to make the best out of it. Sarah-Leigh had her first educational experience at Festus Gonteb Primary School and Atlantic Primary School, subsequently proceeding to Swakopmund Secondary School for her secondary education. She later obtained a Diploma in Business and Office Administration at City and Guilds and bagged a Bachelors Degree in Project Management and Business Administration.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Super Girl of The Month - Amna Mabrouk

"If you are part of a small community for a while, do not leave it until you add your unique voice."

Amna Mabrouk is a highly driven and ambitious young woman who proudly traces her roots to Mauritania, though born and raised in a middle class family in Qatar. It is accurate to say that Amna grew up being outstanding. At the tender age of 11, she had already become a honors student in addition to engaging actively in school activities. Despite being very reserved, this earned her the love and respect of her colleagues and teachers. 

The shy little Amna began to keep a special notebook during one summer vacation, where she gave in to the power of dreams every night. In this book, she recorded every aspiration that she secretly nursed in her heart – things she wished to have and heights she aspired to reach. Even though she had no clear perspective of the future at that early time of her life, she continued to pour out her heart into this special notebook.  
 By the age of 15, Amna’s family members and teachers had noticed her tendency to proffer dynamic suggestions, influence others, and take responsibility. They encouraged her to remain outstanding.   
At this time, our super girl had began to write out the tools and methods through which her dreams could be achieved, in her special notebook. She completed Elementary-Middle School and moved on to High School, where she learnt a great deal about team work and her individual abilities. This helped her a lot as she began her sojourn through the University in 2012, studying Business Administration at the College of Business and Economics, Qatar University. 

It is interesting that throughout her tenure as a student, Amna also served as an Administrative Assistant at the Qatar University - Centre of Academic Advising. Despite her undergraduate status, she made landmark impact in this department.
She led the department to convene the first ever Academic Advising Conference in the MENA Region. Amna was also responsible for overhauling the training methodology employed by the University during its orientation programme for new students. She recommended and introduced simulations and more hands-on approach to the programme, significantly improving training outcomes. 

Ms Mabrouk was equally active in core student life - distinguishing herself in national/international competitions, participating in college activities/trainings, and delivering workshops. In September 2013,  she took a bold step and founded the Management Information Systems Club in Qatar University. The MIS Club was geared towards demystifying Management Information Systems as a Major and encouraging students to see the reality of the field, through engaging and fun activities.

Given her stellar record, it did not come as a surprise to the University Community when she bagged the Student Life Award - Leadership Class, Qatar University in May 2015. For 2 years consecutively, she was also honored for effective college participation and involvement at the College of Business and Economics, Qatar University. In June 2015, Amna Mabrouk graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration - Information Systems (Major), Management and Entrepreneurship (1st/2nd Minors), becoming the first Qatar University Student to specialize in 3 fields all at once.
Currently, Amna works as a Project Manager at ETS Solutions in Doha. She is also a part of the 2015/2016 cohort of the World Innovation Summit for Education Learners' Voice Program - an initiative of Qatar Foundation, which brings the perspectives of young people to the challenge of rethinking education, and equips them to take on leading roles in their fields and in the world of education. Through the Learners' Voice Program, Amna is working with her team to design an education project for Syrian refugees in Jordan.
At this point in her life, Amna strives to move beyond personal achievement, scale up impact and change lives for the better. Her ultimate goal is to launch a thriving business with social impact in Mauritania, even though she has never lived there. Armed with her education and passion, Amna strongly believes that she can make a difference in the core areas of Youth Empowerment and Girls' Education  in her home country. Our super girl remains undaunted by these daring goals. In her words, anything is achievable if she can only trust God, herself and her dreams.

Girl Pride Circle is Super Proud of Amna Mabrouk. We have no doubts that her dream would become a reality in the near future.