Raised in poverty by her farming parents, Blessing was determined to get a good education and make a better life for herself. Even when her parents were unable to pay her school fees, Blessing took on jobs to raise her school fees herself. However, her life took a different turn when she fell pregnant at the age of 19 and was forced to drop out of education.
“I felt the pain of dropping out of school due to my pregnancy and after I gave birth, going back to school was very difficult for me as there was no-one to take care of my child, and I had no help from my parents. I cried for many days and felt very hopeless.”
Depressed and worried for her future, Blessing was invited to join the Girls Advocacy Volunteers which is part of Plan International’s Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA) project in Lofa County. The initiative establishes space for girls like Blessing to increase their knowledge and understanding about girls’ issues in Liberia and in other parts of the world.
Blessing quickly became an active member of the group and was recognised for her commitment and passion. “They call on me if they want someone to advocate for girls and they encourage me all the time telling me: ‘Blessing, you can do it, keep it up’. I appreciate Plan International so much for building my skills in advocacy.”
Empowered by the group, Blessing decided to find someone to care for her baby and return to school and is now due to graduate at the end of 2020. She has also continued her advocacy work with the group and in January 2020 was chosen as the key-note speaker during the launch of Plan International’s Girls Get Equal campaign in Lofa county.
Her speech focused on the campaign demands of equal power, equal freedom and equal representation of girls. She challenged her peers to do more in the fight against discrimination and the removal of barriers that have held girls down for too long. She also called for harsher penalties for perpetrators of rape and other acts of violence against girls and women.
“Seeing what I went through as a teenager, coming from a poor family, getting pregnant and dropping out of school, I don’t want other girls to experience the same. My advocacy is about giving girls the opportunity to make good decisions and right choices. Our government needs to create spaces for girls to develop and learn so that they can become future leaders.”
Now 22, Blessing sees a promising future for herself. “I am looking forward to graduation day from my high school and continuing my advocacy work. I am taking advantage of every training opportunity and workshop organised by the Girls Advocacy Alliance and I want to continue building my campaigning abilities.”