Here at Girl Effect Ethiopia, we are really excited about series six of the Yegna radio drama. The new series, which started in November, is full of exciting storylines and brand new music.
The radio drama follows the story of five girls from different backgrounds who formed a music group called ‘Yegna’. It focuses on how their strong friendship helps them to overcome many real-life challenges facing girls in Ethiopia.
One of the key themes in this new series is domestic violence, with one character experiencing an abusive relationship while another one struggles to cope with the escalating violence at home.
“Emuye’s father is becoming increasingly violent and her parents are constantly arguing. Emuye’s little sister is not dealing well with the situation and Emuye is desperate to help her” says Zebiba Grim, who plays Emuye in the radio drama.
“I hope girls and women who are experiencing violence can learn something from this storyline.”
The issue of domestic violence is a particularly pertinent one as 49% of Ethiopian women have reported experiencing physical violence during their lifetime. Previous Yegna storylines have tackled other important issues as sexual harassment, migration, early marriage and social isolation.
In addition to tackling some serious issues, the Yegna girls and their fans also know how to have fun and enjoy a good show! In the run up to the series launch, the Yegna actresses appeared in various media interviews and performed live on several national TV and radio shows. They even had their very own Yegna themed quiz show on Ethiopian National television!
The team here also helped design and drive a Yegna themed double decker bus around Addis Ababa for two days to entertain the city’s crowds and remind fans to tune into the new series. Girls, boys and adults from all different parts of the city were caught by surprise when Yegna gave a few impromptu performances on the streets of Addis while touring the city in the Yegna bus.
Meseret Ketema, a 16-year-old girl who managed to see Yegna perform in one of the busiest parts of the city, Shiro Meda, told us “ I love Yegna and I listen to their drama. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw them on a colorful double decker bus. I feel so lucky to see Yegna perform live, I only hear them on the radio, usually. I can’t wait for the new season to start”.
With such an exciting and well-received launch for their fans, it looks like this is going to be another successful series for Yegna!
120 adolescent girls graduated from the 12+ Programme on September 11 2015 in the first ever graduation ceremony for the programme led by the Rwanda Girl Guides Association (AGR) in Nyarugenge District.
The girls were part of the first cohort of the 12+ programme that enabled 12,000 adolescent girls between the ages 10-12, to improve health, social and economic assets and increase self-esteem.
At the graduation ceremony, Aline Ruhumuliza, AGR Chief Commissioner highlighted the fact that 12+ Programme has proudly supported girl guides’ work of delivering for girls. She added that based on the projects notable success, the organisation linked this programme to other guiding activity packs to increase the reach of girls.
Liberatha, one of the girls’ parents, said that her daughter taught her the benefits of saving money and investing in mini projects. “My daughter persuaded me to visit her in the safe place, after the session we both decided to open a bank account, a step that I’m proud of.”
The graduates, who were with a crown of Ni Nyampinga pledged to change their lives and their community through a declaration.
For Nicole, one of the graduates, the 12+ programme has given her knowledge but also the skills and confidence to use this knowledge. “I am the leader of my body, no one else is allowed to touch me without my consent, and I will teach these lessons to my friends.”
Some of the 12+ participants have gone on to form clubs which have started income generating projects like farming – an initiative praised by local leaders for the real transformation it has brought to many vulnerable families.
AGR and other 12+ implementing agencies including CARITAS, Imbuto Foundation and World Reflief are handing out graduation certificates across the country. Last week, CARITAS Rwanda and Imbuto Foundation remitted certificates to girls beneficiaries.
The 12+ programme is currently implementing it’s second phase and expanding to reach 40,000 vulnerable girls by 20
On October 11, 2015, Ni Nyampinga celebrated the International Day of the Girl with a big outreach event for girls and the community in Nyabihu.
International Day of the Girl was the perfect opportunity to showcase the role Ni Nyampinga plays in empowering young girls in Rwanda and launch the latest magazine edition (issue 13).
The event was a huge success, to see some of what went on, take a look at our photo story below:
On a Sunday morning, we took the road to Rwankeri, a small sector of Nyabihu District, one of the top attractions of the country.
The brand team, including Ni Nyampinga journalists, technicians and photographers, worked tirelessly to make the roadshow a success, with help from the community, too.
Ni Nyampinga journalists were the ones leading the event and, as always, the public were very excited to meet them!
The event attracted more than 5000 people, including many students from the local primary and high schools, parents, local leaders and media. It was great to see that elders know about Ni Nyampinga, and were joining in as well.
“It’s been an immense pleasure seeing Shangazi, I love her lessons on reproductive health because I learn things I never dare ask anyone.” Alice, 16
Six clubs from three schools showed through skits, dances and drama the role of girls and women in the society. They also portrayed different girls’ issues to call the community to action: girls have the right to education, girls must have the same opportunities as boys and every girl should live free from violence, and be a part of decision making regarding her life.
Bruce Melody is a big star in Rwanda and the crowd were excited to see him perform at the event.
And the boys were getting involved too! “I grew up seeing my sisters perform all the household chores, but today I commit myself to help with the cleaning and cooking, because there are really no duties assigned to any gender” declared one of the boys who at the event.
Ni Nyampinga magazine issue 13 officially launched. Everyone wanted a copy!
Ni Nyampinga didn’t miss the opportunity to chat with girls at the roadshow and discuss the issues that matter most to them.
All in all, we had a blast –“ Mwakoze Ni Nyampinga!”
The topic of girls and money is one which always inspires a lot of interest and discussion in Rwanda. It was the focus of the July edition of the Ni Nyampinga magazine and the subject of a recent Ni Nyampinga outreach programme which promoted many of the attendees to share their opinions and experiences.
The Ni Nyampinga journalists found that many of the people they spoke to were supportive of girls earning a livelihood and having their own money, but that there were barriers to girls having economic independence. Solange, a successful girl from a rural area explained that there were many misconceptions, “some people think girls like me earn money through immoral deeds and some girls think we are superior so they sometimes feel uncomfortable talking to us.”
Also at the outreach programme was Sandrine, an urban employed girl, who acknowledged that society can misjudge girls who earn an income, and emphasized the importance of educating the community on girls’ economic empowerment. “We need our families’ to support us earning our own money. Having money of our own means we don’t always have to look up to other people to provide for us. Girls should start income generating projects between the ages of 12-14.”
As part of the outreach session, Ni Nyampinga journalists also organised an essay competition on “Girls and Money” in Saint François d’Assise Secondary School in Gisagara District.
The winner was 18-year-old student, Eric, who reinforced his message to the Rwandan society with a reminder that girls need to be empowered economically – not only to improve their own lives, but also to contribute to the country’s development.
“The time has come to leave our misbeliefs about girls having money behind. Instead, we must consider what she can achieve with her income,” Eric appealed.
Our Ni Nyampinga journalists were thrilled to collect feedback from readers of issue 13 of Ni Nyampinga magazine, which also focused on girls and money. This topic is still being discussed on the radio show, weeks after the event, showing just how important the issue is.
By Denyse Umuhuza
Did you know that one in five Ethiopian girls say that they don’t have a single friend? Due to heavy amounts of household chores and cultural barriers, such as child marriage, girls often feel isolated and disconnected from their peers.
A group of adolescent girls from Debre Tabor, Ethiopia are fighting to change these statistics. The group, who started their own club and named themselves The Light of Girls, has been bringing girls together in their community and giving them access to valuable information and a safe space for discussion.
The girls, aged between 14 to 17, may come from different backgrounds and have very different stories, but they share something in common – they know what it is like to be a girl in Ethiopia. The Light of Girls have a passion for gender equality, and they want to improve the situation of the girls in their community by teaching them about gender, health and confidence.
The Light of Girls was started after the girls attended a week-long gender empowerment camp in August 2014, where they studied topics such as health, sexual education, HIV and environment. This annual camp, held by Amhara regional Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs), is part of a Peace Corps global initiative, called Girls Leading our World (GLOW), which aims to improve gender equality across the globe.
The most important skill the girls gained from this camp was confidence. They were once shy, timid and even feeling disengaged from their peers, but they now stand proudly in front of classmates and talk about issues that affect them and other girls in their community.
Every second Sunday the eight leaders facilitate sessions for around 25 adolescent girls from all over Debre Tabor. They spend hours planning and preparing for the club and each of them has set responsibilities to manage. The main goal is to create friendships, but the larger outcome is that they create opportunities to improve education and knowledge on significant topics that can often be taboo and stigmatised in conversation, including: menstruation, sexual harassment, HIV/AIDS, gender inequality and many more. Over the past year the girls have become mentors and role models to all who attend their clubs.
14-year old Biruk was one of the girls who was inspired by The Light Of Girls – so much so, that she began her own girls club for 7th and 8th graders in her school, including recruiting members and leading a club every week. Through her dedication to gender empowerment, she was selected by Peace Corps Volunteers to attend the 2015 Gondar GLOW Camp as a Junior Counselor. Her bright and amicable personality made her an invaluable asset to the camp. Due to her diligence and positive attitude, she was invited to join the others in leading The Light Of Girls club.
It is undeniable that this group will go on to inspire many more girls to be a light in their community.
Text and photos by Katrina Johnston.
Katrina is a Peace Corps Volunteer who has lived in Ethiopia for two years. She is currently on one-year secondment to Girl Hub Ethiopia.
Yegna fans have finally been able to let out a sigh of relief as the dramatic storylines in the latest series of Yegna have drawn to a close. In the end, Lemlem was able to escape a marriage her father had set up for her and Sara found the courage to stand up against the sexual harassment she was experiencing at school.
The fifth series of the popular behavior change radio drama and talk show kicked off in May this year with a TV film special, aiming to promote the radio drama to new and existing audiences.
The Yegna movie was screened on national TV and went on tour for ten days, screening 45 times in 20 towns in the Amhara region for an audience totalling up to 100,000 people. It was the first time ever that the Yegna characters – Mimi, Melat, Emuye, Sara and Lemlem – were brought to life on screen.
“The movie shows a day in the lives of the five Yegna girls. It focuses on Mimi’s encounter with a man whom she was married to against her will when she was just twelve years old, making her to run away from home to live on the streets. The film shows how the Yegna girls support her to confront this man,” says Lemlem Hailemichael, who plays Mimi in the radio drama as well as in the film.
The value of friendships is an overarching theme in Yegna. In addition, the radio drama tackles issues such as forced marriage, girls’ education, domestic violence and migration.
“The movie was so amazing. I think it encourages people to follow the radio drama even more. I’ve started to visualize them while listening to them on the radio now. I can’t wait for season 6 to start!” said 16-year-old Abinet, who saw the Yegna film in a public screening in his home town Injibara.
The next season – series 6 of the Yegna radio drama – is due to air in November. More exciting storylines and dramatic developments are to be expected in the new series, with some of the characters having to deal with abusive and controlling relationships. How will the girls cope with this challenge?
YEGNA, which means “ours” in Amharic, is a radio drama, talk show, movie and music that champions the potential of Ethiopian girls. It has over one million listeners in Addis Ababa and Amhara region. In last year’s audience survey, 84% of girl listeners reported a boost in confidence as a result of the listening to the Yegna radio drama, and 76% said it has inspired them to continue their education.
If you haven’t seen the Yegna film yet, you can watch it here (with English subtitles).
“Allo Nicole! Do you still want to become a journalist? There is a Ni Nyampinga opportunity for young girls who want to become one”, said the journalist from Radio Salus. This is a call that rocked my day!
My name is Nicole Isimbi and I am 19 years old. I have always dreamed of becoming a journalist since I was young. My parents always wanted me to find work related to my science subjects, but I wanted a different path. I didn’t know how to convince them until the opportunity at Ni Nyampinga became open.
When I started university studies, I was enrolled in Finance but I still looked for journalism opportunities, visiting different radio station offices to see if they had any internships. After receiving the call that day, I went to Radio Salus in town and happily applied to become a Ni Nyampinga journalist. I prayed to reach the pre-selection level, at least!
I was pre-selected, and the wait for the last interviews was unbearable. When finally I arrived at Girl Hub office for my interview, I felt very nervous. We entered the main gate and I was taken to a room where I found 27 girls who were also waiting to pass the interview! When I looked at their faces, I read power, strength, self-confidence, and wisdom. That’s when I really started to worry.
Although I was scared, my passion for wanting the role so much made me stand strong and it reminded me to fight for what I have dreamed of my entire life. During the session, I was interviewed by, Emma Claudine (the famous “Agony Aunt” of Ni Nyampinga magazine) and Pacifique (the Girl Safety Coordinator at Girl Hub). I prayed that God give me strength to answer the questions as well as I could!
At the end of the day, I went back home feeling very anxious, unsure about my performance. From that day, I kept my cell phone very close to me, to avoid missing any calls from Girl Hub.
The following week, while I was watching a movie at home I received a long awaited call from the Girl Hub office. I was informed that I was selected as one of nine journalists out of approximately 800 applicants. I cried out, “Please God if I am dreaming, let this night last forever!” It was like a miracle! It was a dream come true and I felt overwhelmed!
Right now I am living my dream. I’m so happy and very proud to be among the 9 Ni Nyampinga multimedia journalists at Girl Hub Rwanda. And I was so excited to receive my journalist card offered by Rwanda Media Commission, a self-regulatory body. I am a recognized Rwandan journalist! I still can’t believe that I am heard through Ni Nyampinga – a radio show that we produce ourselves and that is aired at 5 radio stations including Radio Rwanda, which covers the whole country!
I also love working for Ni Nyampinga magazine, which is the most widely distributed magazine in Rwanda with 100,000 copies! The most exciting part is that Ni Nyampinga media platforms are becoming very popular in Rwandan youth. Every day we hear emotional testimonies through interviews and the feedback we receive. This encourages us so much and we work happily every day!
By Nicole Isimbi
“Don’t be good, be great!” said Rwandan UNICEF Representative, Noala Skinner, during the 10th anniversary of the Imbuto Foundation’s programme of support to girls’ education.
The Imbuto Foundation is a charity organisation founded by the Rwandan First Lady, Mrs. Jeannette Kagame and the anniversary event, held in Kigali on 5th July, was an opportunity to celebrate the success of the school girls who have taken part and been awarded through Imbuto’s programme’s since 2005. The event attracted more than 3000 girls and they were joined by key partners and government representatives.
As part of Girl Hub Rwanda’s work of advocating and empowering girls, support for this celebration was evident through the attendance of Ni Nyampinga journalists who distributed 400 copies of their magazines to the girls and partners. Some of the girls had read Ni Nyampinga before but for others it was completely new and there was much excitement about sharing the magazine with their school friends.
The theme for issue 12 of the magazine is ‘Where There Is a Will, There Is a Way’, which connected nicely to the event theme of ‘10,000 Steps to Success’. In an interview with Ni Nyampinga, Radegonde Ndejuru (Former Director General of the Imbuto Foundation), explained that ‘10,000 Steps to Success’ was derived from a book where the readers are encouraged to do something over and over again to achieve success. “Keep learning, keep taking steps,” she stated.
Cherie Blair, former UK First Lady, also gave an account of her life. She revealed that she was not born in a wealthy family and the scholarship from the government enabled her to pursue her studies. “I always dreamt of becoming the Prime Minister of my country and worked tirelessly towards my dream. Yes, I was not the Prime Minister but I am the wife to the former Prime Minister”, said Cherie, cheerfully. Her message to the girls was, “Have a dream because dreams help to achieve. Dream, plan and achieve.”
Alice, one of the best performing girls, had been awarded a laptop in 2010, which helped her accomplish a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering with distinction. She revealed that girls still face many challenges despite their constant efforts to be among best performers. Speaking to Ni Nyampinga she explained, “I know many girls are willing and very proud to be educated however some are faced with poverty and others are not supported by their families. Like other awarded girls, I thank Imbuto and call upon more partners to support girls’ education which will guarantee a future with no poverty,”
By Ntakiyimana Mbabazi Odile and Nadia Umutoni
For the International Day of the Girl (IDG) 2015, Girl Effect Ethiopia teamed up with Peace Corps volunteers to celebrate the day in schools around Ethiopia.
The team here designed and distributed an IDG activity toolkit with instructions and background material for seven different girl and gender-themed activities for the volunteers to do with their students. The exercises were fun and engaging while also designed to get the students thinking about what it means to be a girl in Ethiopia. The specific activities related to gender-based violence, healthy relationships, girls seeing themselves positively, the Girl Declaration and a screening of the Yegna film.
50 volunteers in total received the toolkit and thousands of students around Ethiopia took part in the activities. There was huge interest in and enthusiasm from students for the activities and participation exceeded everyone’s expectations!
Here are a couple of examples of what went on and some of the feedback we received from the volunteers:
The Girl Declaration
My girls were blown away by the fact that the declaration was created by so many girls from so many different countries. They were so proud of their version of the poem (some of it in Amharic, most of it they translated into Afaan Oromo) that they created. Jamie Minchin, Oromia
The Girl Declaration really helped motivate them to continue to study to get the best education they can get to then help others. Kelsey Hill, Tigray
Screening the Yegna film turned out to be one of the most popular activities, not surprisingly! The screenings were followed by a guided discussion about the value of friendship and various issues the film tackles such as domestic violence, early marriage, domestic workload and the importance of education.
The girls loved the movie, and I think it was amazing for them to be exposed to so many positive Ethiopian female role models. Jamie Minchin, Oromia
Most of the students were completely enraptured by the Yegna film. When the song came on at the end, some of them actually started singing along with it. Most of them started dancing a little in their seats, and I swear I heard one cry a little. Jessica Gregg, Donovan Gregg and Quinn Lewis, Oromia
The girls love the Yegna film, especially the singing competition at the end, we had to rewind that part quite a few times. Samantha Stacks, Amhara
The materials and activities proved hugely popular and inspired some of the volunteers to start gender clubs in their schools.
A discussion on whether Ethiopia has gender equality or not allowed students to really think about the question and what they can do to promote gender quality. Swathi Ayyagari, Tigray
Students were enthusiastic about sharing their ideas, and the next week our participation at the [gender] club nearly doubled. Bridget McDevitt, East Amhara
I expected 15 people to show up to our program, nearly 60 students showed up on a SUNDAY to learn about gender issues and what we can do to stop violence and support each other. Amy Sage, Amhara
I expected around 20 kids to show up – I had over 85 the first day and 90 the next day. It was a wonderful opportunity and inspired the kids in my school to ask important questions about women and girls in their country. Kacey Killingbeck, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region
I’ve wanted to do this type of thing for over a year now, but never quite knew how to start. This packet was essential for getting the ball rolling on gender projects at my site! Jessica Gregg, Oromia
Thank you Peace Corps Ethiopia for partnering with us and making the girl effect happen!
(Featured image: Students from Durbete, Amhara region, celebrating the IDG. Photo: Geneva Costopulos)
I never knew that I could tremble so much through nervousness! This is what happened to me when I was waiting to pass my first interview to become a Ni Nyampinga journalist.
My name is Goodluck Mutoni and I am one of the nine journalists working for the Ni Nyampinga radio show and print magazine.
When I was recruited to join Ni Nyampinga, I had just graduated from my secondary school. I didn’t have any journalism experience before this – even interviewing people was new to me. It was through Ni Nyampinga that I acquired these skills (amongst many others).
I will never ever forget my first interview, which was with the famous Rwandan singer, Dr. Thomas Muyombo a.k.a Tom Close. As I arrived at his place, I felt very nervous and even began to sweat with fear! I was surprised to find that Tom Close came to meet us himself and I was glad when he greeted us with a smile. Although I found it difficult to ask questions at first, I felt more and more comfortable as the interview went on.
After that interview, Emma-Claudine (Ni Nyampinga’s Managing Editor), excitedly told us, “You girls surprised me a lot. You did great! I didn’t know you would be able to do it.” This reassured me and I felt so much better after Emma-Claudine’s feedback!
Working as a Ni Nyampinga journalist has allowed me to discover many new and interesting things which I have really enjoyed. For instance, I learnt about 70-year-old Rachel’s life recently and what being a teenage girl in Rwanda a long time ago was like. She told me that when she was young, girls used to meet in safe spaces called ‘Urubohero’ to discuss social issues, give advice to each other, make friends and to have fun. Rachel is considered a role model to many girls and these stories were so valuable to me. I was glad to share them on Ni Nyampinga radio show and in issue 13 of the magazine. Ni Nyampinga has also offered me an opportunity to explore Rwanda. I have already visited several different areas such as: Karongi, Gakenke, Rwamagana, Gisagara, Kansi and Nyakiriba.
What I like the most about being a Ni Nyampinga journalist is that everywhere we go, people know Ni Nyampinga. And everyone – not only girls – are excited to see us and are always willing to cooperate when we need them to answer a few questions. I feel so emotional when girls tell me how much Ni Nyampinga has impacted their lives, – it encourages me to work even harder. And my heart melts when an SMS comes through to 1019, the Ni Nyampinga line, and says, “We love you so much, especially Goodluck! Say hello to her for us, and keep it up.”
Today, I no longer tremble when I have to interview people or research stories. I aim to be a successful journalist and I also want to do my university studies in that area. Everything I am achieving is because of Ni Nyampinga.
By Goodluck Mutoni
As part of their outreach programme, Ni Nyampinga representatives visited girls’ camps this summer to showcase the brand, talk to girls about the stories affecting them and discuss these issues with them.
The tour started on 1st July with a visit to FAWE Girls’ School, where 200 MasterCard Foundation Scholars gathered together for a one-week camp. The representatives followed the tour on 4th July at the former campus of Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) and Kigali Health Institute (KHI), where a mentoring camp entitled “100 Women Who Will Impact Rwanda” was taking place. The following day, Donatha Gihana, Girl Hub Rwanda Country Director, addressed the girls and shared her tips on achieving success and fulfilling your ambitions.
The following week, the Ni Nyampinga Brand continued the outreach at FAWE Girls’ School in Kayonza where a GLOW Camp was taking place. At the GLOW Camp, Pascaline Niyigena, one of the Girl Hub Youth Trustees, and Diane Mukamurenzi, a Ni Nyampinga journalist, delivered inspirational talks on their paths to achieving all that they have accomplished, emphasizing the importance of hard work and self-confidence in reaching your goals.
Pascaline stressed, “Never give up on your dreams – stick with them until they become reality!”
Lastly, the Ni Nyampinga team visited Komera students in Rwinkwavu, where an evening of fun and celebration had been planned. The Komera girls were so happy to meet their favorite journalists that a huge cheer rang out when “Shangazi”, the famous aunt from the Ni Nyampinga magazine, was announced and entered the hall.
Throughout the outreach tour, the Ni Nyampinga team hosted a whole range of activities including movie screenings aand question and answer sessions. In addition to these, the girls also had the opportunity to express their opinions about the Ni Nyampinga magazine and the radio show, and propose ideas on what could be included in the future.
During all of the visits, girls’ empowerment and the values of the Ni Nyampinga brand were discussed with great passion and girls at the camps were urged to own it, be a part of it and share the learnings because, “Ni Nyampinga is for me and you.”