‘My Hands My Future’ was an income generating and leadership empowerment intervention for vulnerable (needy) youth and young women in a grassroots community, Pyakasa, Abuja. The main objective of the project was to empower the most vulnerable and hard to reach communities with skills and strategies which could enable them to graduate from helpless conditions of poverty, continued exploitation and abuse, to acquisition of knowledge, skills and strategies, leading to informed decision making and self-reliance.
Year of Implementation
The project commenced in December 2012 with 40 beneficiaries. The beneficiaries were registered to learn in different vocations. The number of the beneficiaries with their respective vocation are as follows; barbing (10), hairdressing (8), catering (8) and fashion designing (14). The project came to an end in April 2014.
Various activities carried out in the course of the project included Life skills, Reproductive Health and HIV & AIDS training, Advocacy Visit, Business Development Skills & Financial Literacy Workshop, Service Learning activities, community outreaches and Media Consultative Forum.
Apprentices who benefited from the project acquired skills in baking and decorations, tailoring, barbing and hair dressing. As at September 2014, some of the beneficiaries have established their personal businesses while some work as shop assistant (four from barbing department, one from catering department and two from tailoring department). There are other beneficiaries who are into petty trading pending the time they can raise/access substantial capital to establish their own businesses based on the skills acquired.
Some beneficiaries (6 girls and four boys) returned to school to complete secondary school education. They took this decision as a result of the knowledge acquired during the initial one-week life skill training that they would become better artisan if they are educated.
Due to service learning activities conducted at Pyakassa, there has been an increase, over 50% in the number of adults accessing reproductive health information, HCT and as well increase in condom demand since 2013 till date based on the report from the community health centre. Many of these clients have attributed their decision to the messages they received from HIV awareness, banners, posters and fliers. A total number of 1,163 community members were reached with information on HIV & AIDS during the service learning activity. Till date, the office still receives call from members of the community and even religious bodies commending the organization and requesting for the elongation of the project so as to accommodate more beneficiaries.
Community members who were not direct beneficiaries also benefited through various outreach programs and were also sensitized.
Advocacy visits especially to community leaders and relevant stakeholders have been very helpful in the course of the project implementation.
Implementing community service learning activities in the evenings and weekends actually enhanced participation of the community members.
Allocating apprentices to different coaches in the same field of skill made the learning process easier and more effective.
The use of interpreters during advocacy and community programmes made communication process effective and gave the beneficiaries a sense of belonging.
The involvement of government agencies created access to NGO financial provisions by the government. It also made participants understand requirement to access soft loan.
In trying to ensure that the beneficiaries of the empowerment programme were those with the felt need, the organisation worked closely with some community stakeholders during the selection process.