Thirteen-year old Bridget Nerima, picks up her office phone, dials a number and requests that the person on the other end of the line comes to her office.
Seconds later, a gentleman called Bernard Masaba enters her office. Bernard works for Fields of Life (FOL) in the Uganda office as the Outreach Co-ordinator. “I would like you to give me the progress and challenges that you experience in your work” Bridget says to him in a firm voice. Bernard immediately starts explaining what he has been able to achieve and what his challenges are.
This astonishing scenario played out in the Fields of Life Uganda office this week. The shadowing activity was part of Fields of Life’s preparation for International Day of the Girl Child which is marked worldwide each year on 11th October. International Day of the Girl Child recognises the rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world and aims to inspire girls to dream big and pursue leadership roles.
This year, the day is being celebrated with the theme “With her; a skilled Girl force.” Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development worked with various partners around the country to have girls step into the shoes of various key leaders and influencers in the business, politics, legislative, executive, civil society, education, administration and sports spheres.
As part of her shadowing, Bridget performed the daily tasks expected of Ednar Nyakaisiki, the Fields of Life Executive Director, East Africa. These included participating in morning devotions, one to one meetings with staff members to fully understand their roles and get their project implementation updates. She even chaired the senior management team meeting!
Bridget, a Primary Seven pupil at a FOL supported school in Gayaza, central Uganda, never imagined that she would ever leave the confines of her classroom and lead a team of 40 adults as their Executive Director.
The aspiring medical doctor is not the type to shy away from leadership positions. She is currently her class monitor and believes that leadership is key in everything we do. “I like leadership. Leaders are respected, they can’t be ignored. Leadership is very important because even if you are a doctor, you need to lead other doctors, nurses and patients,” she added in a matter of fact tone.
Five hours later, an excited Bridget had more nuggets of wisdom to share about leadership. When asked about the qualities of a good leader, she responded that integrity was key. “You should be exemplary. Don’t come to work late because how can you tell your colleagues that they are late when you are always late?” She asked.
At the end of the day, she felt very inspired to become more focused on achieving her dreams; “This shadowing has encouraged me to study hard so that I can also get to where Ednar is in this office.” She said.
She also pledged to fight for the rights of the girl child by ending early marriages. She concludes; “I would stop early marriages and advise parents of the dangers of early marriages which lead to pregnancy and death to children when they are giving birth.”
Fields of Life is passionate about girl child empowerment. We are currently implementing the I AM GIRL programme in East Africa which aims to enable girls to fully participate in education by addressing barriers to female empowerment and gender equality associated with menstrual hygiene management and child protection.
Ednar Nyakaisiki, the Executive Director, said that the takeover was in line with Fields of Life’s mantra of ensuring that communities and individuals, especially girls, are assisted to strive for meaningful and dignified lives. “We, at Fields of Life, are committed to supporting the girl child to stay in school and I believe takeovers like this one give girls hope and confidence to achieve their dreams and become drivers of change in their communities.”