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MINA BILKIS

Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone 

Motto: Empowering girls because I am a girl 

Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone or Girl Up was founded in January 2016 and operates at the government assisted secondary school called Vine Memorial Secondary School for Girls (VMSSG) in Freetown at the Junior Secondary School (JSS) (middle school) level targeting girls ages 11-17. We aim to promote the health, safety, leadership and education of adolescent girls in Sierra Leone through community outreach, advocacy and public speaking workshops. As a United Nations foundation campaign stemming from the “Girl Up Club”, founded in 2010 in the United States has over 61 international chapters — Girl Up Vine Club Sierra Leone being the first in Sierra Leone became the 61st country in 2016, we are mandated to carry out 5 projects annually. Our main projects are Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)/Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights (SRHR), Digital Rights and Sexual & Gender Based Violence (SGBV). 

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I serve as Founder + Director at Girl Up delegating an executive board of 5 adolescent girls elected by their peers (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and Public Relations Officer). We meet once a week for 90 minutes and discuss a topic of the week outlined in our monthly curriculum. Topics stem from social issues ranging from mental health, peer pressure, self care, health and body rights and feminism. Every year the new girls (we do inductions at the start of every academic year) are given journals to log in their thoughts and are given assignments on a topic discussed or are asked to research new words or expressions. As English Language and speaking is an underlying issue for many, we do English classes often to strengthen their Grammar and Vocabulary so they are able to facilitate workshops or speak in public confidently in addition we offer internal public speaking and self confidence building sessions. 

The five projects that our beneficiaries decide on they are heavily engaged in the community, not just school going pupils or in Freetown. Some have facilitated workshops in Kambia Port Loko, Moyamba and other parts of the country sensitizing, educating and engaging different communities in the scope of our aforementioned projects.