An afternoon in Waru

Waru is an impoverished neighborhood in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. In Waru, homes lack latrines, leading residents to use a community latrine outside or relieve themselves in the bush. The community also deals with high amounts of trash.

I met a woman with three children, none of them in school. Although the mother worked full time as a housekeeper, her eldest daughter had been out of school for 2 years because of the family’s inability to pay school fees. Her five-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter were also out of school because of high school fees. Her children’s school fees totaled to 13500 naira ($36), much more than her 10000 naira monthly income ($27). While her husband is a car mechanic, he is frequently out of work. While she would like to send all four of her children to school, costly school fees prevent her from doing so.

 

 

About the Author

A Nigerian-American who earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in the United States, Onyinye is returning to her native Nigeria to examine the urgent issue of girls health, education, early marriage and, most of all, girls empowerment. Onyinye holds a Masters of Public Health degree from University of Washington-Seattle, as well as graduate-level certificates in the Global Health of Women, Adolescents and Children, and in Sexual and Reproductive Health Research. Describing the impetus for her project, Onyinye points out that, “Niger is presently ranked as the country with the highest percentage of child brides in the world with 76% of girls married before age 18. Nigeria holds the number 14 position with 43% of girls married before age 18. As a trained global health practitioner and advocate for adolescent sexual and reproductive health, I understand the power in a girl’s voice and the dangers associated with silencing that voice. During my ICWA Fellowship I intend to work with young people and their communities to understand the factors that propel child marriage and hinder girls education. My aim is to identify culturally-sensitive ways to address these critical problems.” In addition to her academic credentials, she brings field experience in project design and implementation, monitoring and evaluation, maternal and child nutrition and adolescent sexual and reproductive health; Onyinye has worked in both urban and rural/remote locations in Africa and in the US. An emerging young leader, Onyinye has been recognized by the Clinton Global Foundation as a Commitment Maker, was awarded a prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship as well as a Global Opportunities Health Fellowship. Onyinye’s ICWA Fellowship began in August 2016 and will continue until August 2018.