Thursday, February 8, 2018

Notes of a Ripples Intern - What Nigerian Festivals tell us

By Daphne Visser,
Undergraduate Philosophy, Education and Child studies

This summer I traveled to Nigeria as part of my internship at Ripples Foundation. I would like to share the lessons that the country and its people have taught me with you. In this way I hope to inspire of you who want to help empower African women.  

Project visits are hard work, sleep depriving, and stressful. I had thereby been in little contact with Nigerian culture before my departure to Nigeria. I had read up on the different ethnic groups and a little bit about the history of Nigeria. However, there’s a big difference between reading about a certain culture and working in this very same culture. Luckily, Ripples considers it imperative that their interns learn about the culture of the villages in which they reside. This means that most of Ripples’ project visits are arranged around a festival, such as the Durbar festival in Kano or Ogidi Day.   

Before I arrived at Ogidi, I had already heard about Ogidi day. People in Lagos had been speculating about the amount of visitors that would arrive and what I would think about the festival. I had not been giving any specifics, as I should experience the festival for myself. This made me really excited for the festival and I was dying to know how a Nigerian festival looked like.   

At last the day of the Ogidi festival! I had left for the festival quite early, to experience as much as possible. I had unfortunately not taken in account the concept of Ogidi time. This is a concept used to describe the differing importance given to time by the locals of Ogidi. It’s like an inside joke, where if a person arrives late people would comment that he or she was employing the concept of “Ogidi time”. Obviously, Ogidi Day is not Ogidi Day if it does not employ a bit of “Ogidi time”. This meant that it took another hour for the actual day to start. It did not really matter as there were local refreshments as well. Happily eating away, I watched the colorful clothes of the artists and festival goers passing by.  

Nigerian festivals are enormous social events. Everyone in town is at the festival site, bringing their families from all over the country with them. Nigeria is home to more than 250 different ethnic groups that are dispersed all over the country. Festivals are a perfect opportunity to exchange ideas and cultural practices. It’s a great way to connect people, keep each group’s traditions alive and remembered. During the festival I saw performances from Yoruba people, Ijaw people, and Idoma people, who had all travelled towards this small village in Kogi State. It was amazing to be part of such a celebration of cultural diversity.

Nigerian festivals are also a get together of local people. Old friends and neighbours alike, meet each other on the festival grounds. During our stay, Ogidi transformed from a quiet and peaceful village into a booming town. Every day I saw new people arrive. The festival is the opportunity for all to meet their distant friends and relatives.  

I was thinking about all of this while people slowly started seeping in. Before I knew it the Oba (Ruler/King) had arrived and the festival was ready to start. Before a group of artists performs their routine, they pay a homage to the Oba. This is a sign of respect and one among many in the Nigerian culture, where there is still a high regard for the rulers and elderly.

The homage to the Oba

After the homenage to the Oba, the artists were ready to perform and music started erupting from everywhere. In Nigeria they really know how to create a party! A group usually builds their own festivities into another party, which had already erupted during another party. This is just one way in which Nigerian people show they partying spirit. All around me people were dancing, laughing, clapping, eating, and singing different tunes. New groups of people arrived almost every minute to contribute to the festival atmosphere in their own way.

And I? I was just enjoying everyone’s merriment.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Ripples Farms is LIVE!

Picture this: 52,5% of the farming population in Nigeria is female (source: Food and Agricultural
Organization of the United Nations). These women have no access to owning land for farming
purposes. Apart from that, most of the farming in Nigeria is subsistence farming; farming where
the emphasis is placed on growing enough food for survival (source: NOI-Polls). This usually
means that not enough products are generated for trade. A family is left with no other resources
than what is grown on the land, which increases the risk of starvation in the non raining season.
Now add high deforestation (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations), impending
population growth (source: the Guardian, 11 January 2016) and rural poverty - 52.8% of the
Nigeria’s rural population lives under the poverty line (source: Knoema) - to this mix of factors. This
is the reality of families living in rural communities in Nigeria. We are left to wonder how they would
ever be able to feed themselves.

To tackle this problem, Ripples has devised its newest Women’s Enterprise Programme: Ripples
Farms. Together with our valuable partners, we will transform 250 acres of farming land, donated by
the community of Ogidi in Kogi state Nigeria, into a farming business incubator, where 2000 women
and 1000 youth will be trained on eco-friendly sustainable farming and livestock rearing practices. As
the women and youth produce different kinds of nutritious foods, such as beans, spinach and milk,
they will be able to export to different kind of markets, increasing their opportunities to generate an
income. In this way women will be able to feed their children and generate an extra source of income
for the family.

Ripples Farms is our biggest project so far; generating a tremendous impact for a vast number of
people. Such a project is only realized with the help of our beneficiaries, who are the start of all that
we do. We have been very lucky to find valuable partners in the Ogidi youth. 73% of the population in
Ijumu state, the area in which Ogidi is located, is under 30 years old (according to 2011 national
census). With their help we were able to select Ripples Farms’ first candidates. They will help us
develop and tailor our project to suit their experiences, challenges and knowledge.  

Ripples has established a Nursery, where it runs its trials. These acres of land will help us test and
tailor our eco-friendly and sustainable farming methods to suit the Ogidi soil and weather. The
nursery also includes a small patch of grassland, where we will accommodate the first herd of cows
and goats that will also provide income generating activities to our participants. With the help of our
donors, two cows and one goat have already been purchased, who now call this patch of land their
home. With everyone’s help this herd will grow to include enough livestock for our participants.

What impact  do you think Ripples Farm will have on our women and youths? Let us know what you

Friday, November 24, 2017

The life of an African Village Woman: The story of Laraba - Part 2

Laraba’s story continues…

Last time we introduced you to Laraba, a mother of 4 beautiful children in Northern Nigeria. Today her story continues.

To help Laraba, Ripples offered her livestock and training on farming and livestock rearing skills. This has helped her to raise her own herd of livestock, provide meat to supplement her children’s nutrition and provide food. She sells the livestock in the market and earns an income in this way. She has been able to send her children to school, guaranteeing their future, and ensuring that they do not join Boko Haram.

To help women like Laraba Ripples has devised Ripples Farms; a sustainable farming Business Incubator. The women that participate on the programme will receive training which is focused on sustainably and eco-friendly farming. In this way the women will acquire livestock rearing and farming skills. A herd of goats, sheep or cows is also provided to them. With their newly gained skills the women can grow their herd and generate nutritious food, which can be sold in the local market. In this way an income is generated and they will be able to put her children through school. She no longer has to worry about them going to school hungry, as she herself now grows nutritious food.

Along these lines, looking at one specific woman at a time, Ripples has helped more than 8,300 women led families in Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon acquire a new beginning. This through strong local networks, which enable us to pivot to the specific needs of our women. We are furthermore user-focused, responsive to community needs, data-driven, constantly measuring, monitoring and refining our approaches. We control the whole of the business chain, which allows us to encourage and identify innovative solutions from village women, which we refine and loop back into our processes for sustainability.  

However, we cannot accomplish this alone and have been supported by many valuable volunteers and donors. You can also help women like Laraba earn their own income and break the cycle of poverty. For $53 we can already buy one goat to support one woman just like Laraba to raise her herd of ten goats.

As part of the #GivingTuesday movement we are now on Go Fund Me.

Please help Laraba to raise her own herd of goats.   

With your gift you can make change happen!

Visit Go Fund Me to learn more:

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The life of an African Village Woman: the story of Laraba

Meet Laraba.

Laraba lives with her 4 beautiful children in rural Northern Nigeria. Before Ripples, Laraba worried every night, unsure if she would be able to feed her children. All the villagers like Laraba are poor subsistence farmers, whose children do not go to school. With no other opportunity many young boys in the village have already disappeared. No one hears from them again. Many of those will never go home again. They have joined Boko Haram in search for something better. Laraba is petrified that her children will soon follow suit. As a widow this fear feels worse than losing her husband. Laraba had no one to turn to.

Laraba is not the only woman in Kano who goes to sleep and wakes up with these questions. Many live on N 100 ($0.7) a day, suffering hunger and poverty. They cannot pay for their children’s education, which deprives them of a chance to strive for something better. 60 - 70% of Nigeria’s population is in some way involved in farming. Most of them are subsistence farmers, who farm for survival, while not much is generated for trade.  90% of this agricultural production is rain-fed. There is however only one raining season a year. After the annual harvest the families are completely dependent on women to generate an income.

Will Laraba and the other women be able to feed her children and protect her children from Boko Haram?  

To be continued..

Friday, August 11, 2017

Support for African children to have access to internet and digital technology.

1 out of every 2 kids will reach adolescent years without being able to read or write in Saharan African countries.
Ripples Foundation is launching a new Ripples Box programme. It is time for change, to demand that every child in poor and remote areas in Africa receives the education that they deserve.

The problem

According to the Africa learning barometer by Justin W. van Fleet, a director of the international commission on financing global education, African children are growing up with very little literacy. In a world where social media, mobile technology and online communities are essential to the way that we relate and learn. Research shows that about half of sub Saharan Africa’s 128 million school children have the basic skills needed to live a productive life and help their families. A poor female child is less to gain the right critical skills in reading and writing. School children do not have quality education, due to rural schools having less qualified teachers to teach them.

About Ripples Box

The BOX is a multimedia classroom that can be assembled in any location and is fully equipped with computers, with internet access and has room for up to 30 students. The internet access allows connectivity to our Ripples Training Programmes, including accredited courses with certificates issued from our partners. The Ripples BOX plays a key role in triggering development in small communities by teaching young people the useful sets of skills in a fun and engaging way.

Where we come in?

1.     We create communication

We help villagers. Villagers are granted access to a wide variety of resources through the Ripples Box’s connectivity to the Internet, which they can use to communicate with the rest of the world, making it easier to connect and learn from other countries.

2.     Create a better foundation for the children and youth

We believe that by educating the children in Africa in digital technology, this new generation can grow into a better shape for the future. Through this program, we hope that young Africans in the 21st century will become educated and empowered and eventually become the future that will shape the continent of Africa since children are the future of their families and the products of their mothers.

3.     We create a sustainable design

Last but not least, the Ripples Box is sustainable and easy to use. It does not rely on generators to run and eco friendly, with no pollution. The box is fitted with solar panels, making it sustainable and available to be used in remote villages that do not have power supply.

To donate items to Ripples Foundation, kindly email with your offer and our team will be happy to help.

You can make change happen.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Meet 3 More Of Our Media Apprentices!

Last week we introduced you to 3 of our new Media Apprentices in Kano State, Nigeria, who are working with our volunteers on the Youth Development Programme to train young women on the art of photography and filming.

In this post we will be introducing the next 3 apprentices to you, and we hope you will continue to follow their journey as they progress through the training.

Aisha Lawal Faragai

Age: 22

Aisha lives with her parents and has 9 siblings, 6 brothers and 3 sisters. She is the 9th child out of the 10, and her siblings are very protective of her! She has recently graduated from Bayero University where she studied Islamic Studies. She wants to be a photographer but has not had the chance to learn the skills before, so she has jumped on this opportunity to learn with Ripples. Aisha wants to use photography to tell stories that will touch people's hearts. In 5 years time, she sees herself married and wants to have 5 children.

Dr Maryam's comments:

Aisha describes herself as ‘noisy’ which is quite an odd description. On further probing she said she’s an extrovert and loves to make a lot of noise (likely loves throwing tantrums to her unsuspecting older siblings!). She is highly inquisitive, likes to ask questions about everything she doesn’t understand, and is always jovial and chirpy. She loves reading and author James Hardly Chase feeds her inquisitiveness, as she loves his works and cannot pick a favourite book. Her mother is a full-time housewife and is her main source of courage by always encouraging her in all she sets her mind to. Aisha’s father is a Veterinary doctor and works in Gwale Vet Clinic, which is very close to home. Aisha aspires to use photography to touch people’s hearts and hopes her shots will leave a mark in the world. We wish her success and hope she achieves her dreams.

Aisha Suraj

Age: 20

Aisha is currently awaiting admission into the College of Health Sciences, Bayero University, Kano. She wishes to be well educated so that she can fulfil her dream of joining the medical profession. She has a strong interest in health science, particularly anatomy. Aisha joined the Media Apprenticeship Programme to gain more experience of working and to learn new skills. In 5 years time, Aisha says that she will be married and have 5 children! When asked if that was too much, she replied that she will have 2 sets of twins... She is finding the course very interesting so far.

Dr Maryam's comments:

Aisha is a highly energetic young lady. She is Yoruba by tribe and describes herself as ‘simple like ABC’. She respects her elders and is very gentle. She has 3 brothers. Her father was a businessman who she sadly lost to a ghastly car accident while he was on one of his business trips. She was in SS2 at the time. Her mother has been the care-giver since then. She describes her mother as a simple lady who is working very hard to take care of her children and to fill the void that was left by her late father. In her spare time, Aisha reads a lot of books. She loves photography for the knowledge and the experience it will give her and she plans to use her photography skills to change the world.

Habiba Shehu

Age: 19

Habiba is 19 years old and finished secondary school in 2013. Her dream is to become a nurse and hopes that the Media Apprenticeship Programme will help her to learn an understand new skills. When Habiba achieves her dream we hope to see her participating in Ripples' Medical MOT events in the future! Habiba loves listening to music and watching tv shows and movies in her free time, and counts Pretty Little Liars amongst her favourite shows.

Dr Maryam's comments:

Habiba is the last born of 8 siblings. She is quiet and reserved, and describes herself as hardworking and patient. She loves photography and uses her phone camera to capture moments and scenes. In her spare time, she is into movies and describes Pretty Little Liars as her best TV show, her favourite characters being Hannah and Spence. Her mother is a full-time housewife. She is patient and is very supportive of Habiba’s dreams and aspirations. Her father works with WRECA (Water Resources and Engineering Construction Agency) in Kano. Habiba aspires to acquire a degree in Nursing and hopes that in a few years time, she will participate in one of our Medical MOTs. She hopes that the Media Apprenticeship Programme will help her achieve her dream of being a professional photographer. We cannot wait to see how far this young lady goes. 

Over the next few months we will be following Aisha, Habiba, Aisha as well as Husna, Humaira and Bahijja as they progress through the Media Apprenticeship Programme. Make sure to keep an eye out for our updates here and on our Social Media channels over the coming weeks, where we will be sharing some of their work and stories from their trips to our projects. 

Good luck with your training girls!