This is Gabriel. He is 15 years old. Yesterday, I visited his school to have a conversation with young people who have been benefitting from the YEDI SKILLZ Guyz project. First of all, the SKILLZ Guyz curriculum was designed for boys aged 13 to 19 years, tailored to provide information on HIV prevention, Sexual, Reproductive Health, gender inequality issues, substance abuse, sexual violence, and many ‘guys-related’ issues.
I spoke to a few Guyz who have been immersed in the programme for the past few weeks, and it was time for evaluation. I was about leaving the school premises when he ran to me and said, “I want to talk about how SKILLZ Guyz has helped my life.” I was shocked as he was the first person to use that phrase “helped my life”. I was in a hurry to leave, but I thought, ‘is that not why we do what we do?’ So I went back, set up my camera and began to record. And he began: “Uncle, see eeen, I used to be a very lazy boy at home.” (Young people in Nigeria especially school children, are used to calling older males ‘Uncle’.) I cocked my ears to hear him properly, and ensured my camera was rolling:
“Helping my Mum out in the kitchen was not my thing; because of the popular myth that only females take part in household chores. But thanks to the SKILLZ Guyz and Coach I.K that came to my school. They showed us how and why it is wrong not to take part in household chores under the wrong impression that those are female duties.”
“We played a game called SOCCER EQUALITY and that further opened my eyes to gender equality. Now, I’m a very good boy at home; if you see my mother and sister, ask them, I’m a changed person right now,” he said, amid chuckles!
I was quick to ask him: will you be shy if your fellow guys caught you doing the dishes? And he replied, “Noooo, it doesn’t mean anything! I will grow up with it and even tell my children when I get married. It is the right thing to do.”
I left him, turned off my camera, and exhaled! Yes, I was happy! It feels good to be making an impact, especially in the lives of young people. It feels good to know that our SKILLZ Coaches are passing on the right message as contained in the SKILLZ Guyz curriculum.
Many thanks to our funders and partners who are changing the lives of young people in Nigeria, one young person at a time.
My name is Lucky. I’m proud to be a part of YEDI.
For more about YEDI, please visit www.yedi.ng