My name is Riya William Yuyada and I come from a place called Mundri in South Sudan. My project is a mentorship program which we prefer to call ‘’I am my sister’s keeper’ because we take the place of big sisters to our mentees and is done with girls in schools. This project aims to encourage the girls to remain focused in school even amidst many challenges like poverty and lack of sanitary towels. During the mentorship sessions, we bring mentors to meet and talk to the mentees in their different schools. They have discussions on different topics as requested by the mentees like school relationships, importance of female education, teen pregnancies among others. We ask the mentees the problems they are facing that hinder their progress in school and then we link them to the right mentors who have also gone through similar problems as they were growing up to have one on one mentorship sessions.
We also screen short inspirational films to the girls to show them the realities out there so as to inspire them to stay in school.We are planning to distribute the menstrual hygiene kits which will include sanitary towels and other scholastics that will help the girls stay in school and perform better once we get the resources.
I started ‘I am my sister’s keeper’ to promote and improve on girl child education so as to change the status quo of women in a country where women are still considered second-class citizens and not given enough space to take part in the decision-making processes of our country. Girl child education in South Sudan is among the worst in the world with only 27% of the population being educated yet only 16% women are educated. What makes it alarming is only 1% of girls are able to finish primary school.So for us to get close to gender equality and involve more women in decision-making processes of the war-torn country, we realised the need to push for the education of girls so as to improve on the quality of women that will be changing our country through mentorship programs. To achieve this, we need to keep more girls in my country in school and close the education gap.
I heard about Akili Dada from a friend I met in a feminist leadership, Movement Building and Rights institute in Nairobi called Veronica who was then working at Akili Dada at that time. We had just founded a women’s organisation; ‘Crown The Woman-South Sudan’ and sincerely speaking all I had was the passion to create change and ideas but didn’t know where to start from when it came to management or clear path I would take plus I had fear for the unknown. So when I talked about the organisation being a new one, Veronica then told me about Akili Dada’s fellowship program and how the program would help me grow a lot. I looked the program up and I knew from then that this was the right time for me to acquire more knowledge, confidence, and increase on my network and indeed it is.
In my free time, I like listening to loud music and playing basketball. In my lifetime, I would love to visit Greece and experience its history.