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She Codes 2014 : Empowering Girls In The Slum Through Coding!

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On the 25th of January 2013, Tech Needs Girls Ghana, a non profit organization which I’m a co-founder and mentor of, organized a one-day coding and leadership workshop for 60 girls from Nima and Mamobi in Accra, Ghana in collaboration with the Achiever’s book club. The Achievers Book Club (ABC) is an independent Ghanaian non-profit organisation, with a simple mission: Education for all girls in slums in Ghana.

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Their story started with a girl called Amina, who lives in the Accra slum of Nima and, despite excelling at school, was forced into marriage at the age of 12. What happened next made Amina an inspiration to many other girls. In 2011, she co-founded the ABC to help prevent similar situations to be suffered by other young girls in the community. They reached out to Tech Needs Girls to organize a workshop for the girls.

My co-founder and all round awesome social entrepreneur, Regina Agyare called me on the phone and told me about the Book club and organizing a workshop. I was very happy to hear about the opportunity to impact some leadership skills into the girls and introduce them to computer science. Regina Agyare raised funds, got a lot of people on board and stuff ( you know, she is well connected 🙂 ).  I live in Kumasi and Regina in Accra, where the workshop was going to take place.

I left for Accra early at 8:15 am on Saturday, the 25th of January and arrived at 8:50 am. I immediately took a taxi to the venue and the entire taxi ride is another blog post on it’s own. We couldn’t really find the place and the driver got very mad and over charged me and since I didn’t want to get into an argument, I paid and alighted at my destination. The workshop was venued at the ABC at Nima, 2nd floor on a three story building.

When I got to the venue, I met our new and amazing Mentors, Phoebe Amoako and Amanda O.S. from Ashesi, Larissa Bowen-Dodoo, a teaching assistant at the University of Ghana, and Melikha Dahlia, from the Congo. It was great to meet these exceptional ladies and welcome them to the team. It’s very interesting to see the youth interested in development and helping out in every little way. I am secretly proud of my generation and the trends we are setting for a brighter future 🙂 .

We started the workshop off with an introduction of the mentors and some serious logical reasoning, math and problem solving. The girls were too smart for the questions. We continued with fun brain games and it was amazing how quick the girls solved them. I was very proud to witness it 🙂 .

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After a couple of warm activities and fun activities like ‘Bash’, the coding session began. We thought the girls how to program in html and css. The new mentors were outstanding and they did their own thing :). It was their first time mentoring at Tech Needs Girls and they were very patient with the girls.

I helped mentor a couple of groups and one of the girls in Patricia Adefienu’s group, already knew HTML and CSS and asked so many smart questions, I was very surprised but excited and smiled throughout the mentoring session. It always feels good to inspire the girls and encourage them to think outside the box.

1538788_367170796759296_655340113_nAfter the coding session, the girls practiced public speaking by presenting what they learned to a panel of judges. The judging panel included Farida Bedwei. Now, this is a lady who truly inspires me and I look up to. She is unbelievably strong and has done so much as a person and in the tech scene in Ghana. I didn’t recognize her immediately but when I did, I didn’t hesitate to talk to her and introduce myself. She is the author of ‘definition of a miracle’. I read snippets of the book and was emotionally touched and driven by her courage and determination. She is a wonderful person and I am very glad to have met her.

Group A, Cheryl Dzifa’s team, won the HTML challenge and they were happier than I was when Beyonce dropped her surprise album :). The girls were very poised and confident and amaaaaaaaaaaaazing!

We interacted with the girls after lunch one-on-one and advised them on a couple of personal and academic issues they were facing. We took group pictures, and I looked down at the community and reminisced on how important this workshop was for the girls and the community at large. I was humbled and glad to have played a part in opening their minds to a lot of possibilities and extremely grateful for the ‘Waakye’ I ate earlier in the morning. The ‘Waakye’ was a blessing from God and I will definitely go back to visit the girls and the ‘Waakye’ lady when I’m in Accra :).

The worskhop ended at 4pm and we went to Afrikiko to relax and hang out. We got to know the new mentors and I was excited to hangout with old mates and new ones I had just made. Regina gave a speech and me I was shy to say much but she put me on the spot and I said something small :).

It was interesting to relax and act like we didn’t just do something awesome and changed the course of history (somehow) :D. I crushed at Regina’s and it was super fun hanging out with her. She’s so down to earth and I appreciate how she interacts with me. She is the big sister I don’t have.

I am privileged everyday to be a part of Tech Needs Girls and to be friends with all the amazing people in the team. This is what I want to do for the rest of life. Giving back and making people’s lives better is my dream and everything I do is a step towards bigger and better things for not just Tech Needs Girls but youth development accross every gender.

Thank you very much for reading and check out the pics below from the event! Oh and don’t forget to drop a comment 🙂

 

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