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Thursday, June 13, 2024

“My goal is to save women and girls from violence” AMBASSADOR BRIDGET DAKYES: The founder of WGRDI

The founder of WGRDI
My name is Bridget Nanchin Dakyes. I was born over four decades ago in Jos, north central Nigeria. My parents, Mr and Mrs Umaru Powar Trepshik (all of Blessed Memory) had seven children, and I’m the last.
I was born into an average-income family. Back in the late sixties, my dad worked as a miner before he joined the ECWA Rural Development (ECWA RD)
My mother had a foodstuff trading business. Although mum enjoyed running her petty business, a time came when she had to retire. After her retirement, she devoted her entire attention to her family and her Christian faith.
I was raised in a godly home. My father was a very kind man. He loved, respected, and treated us like his friends. He was a dad that applauded us for a job well done and also punished us when there was a need to do so.
Besides being the best dad, he was also an amazing husband. My mother was a very hospitable woman. Although she was not wealthy, she donated the little she had to charity. She had a garden where she cultivated vegetables and fruits and during harvest time, she would give crops to the less privileged. My parents were my greatest influence, and I became a humanitarian by following in their footsteps. Although they are late now, the legacy they left lives on.
I attended First Baptist Primary School. I had an excellent result in my entrance examination and was posted to Federal Government Girls College, Calabar. My mother had mixed feelings when she heard I would be travelling that far for studies. I was just 11. But in those days, cases of kidnapping or child disappearance were very rare. So, after much contemplation, she approved my journey to Calabar.
The first time I went to school, my elder brother travelled with me. When we arrived at the Federal Government Girls College, Calabar, I was so happy to find myself in a new environment. After completing all the documentation, they assigned me to a female guardian named Sarah. She showed me my hostel and explained the rules and regulations to me. Most of our teachers lived in the school, but my guardian was living outside the premises. But one week after my arrival, tragedy struck: the principal told us that Miss Sarah was hit by a vehicle and that she died on the spot.
Miss Sarah’s sudden death broke my heart, and I cried bitterly. Later on, I was reassigned to a new guardian, and I started making new friends too. Generally, life in boarding school taught me to be strong and independent. We had students from different backgrounds and cultures.
It was there I learned how to relate to everyone and adjust to different conditions. While I was learning and preparing for my future, I also enjoyed myself. My parents used to send gift parcels to me through DHL, and sometimes, I got parcels from my older sister, who was living in Lagos.

One teacher who influenced me positively was Mr. Nnakwe, our Mathematics teacher. He had a wonderful way of teaching the subject. Maths had always been very boring to me, but under this great tutor I started to love it. My phobia for Maths soon disappeared and I started having good grades.
I also remember our dormitory mistress, Miss Udo. She took good care of us and was very loving. She used to walk around the hostel at night, to ensure that all the girls were inside. I feel that if she wasn’t monitoring us, maybe some of us would have gone astray.
I was a very brilliant student, and my childhood dream was to become a lawyer. After I passed my O’level examination, I enrolled in a diploma course in Law. My goal was to get direct entry into the same department.
Unfortunately, after completing the diploma, my admission request was denied. Back then, the department of Law was highly competitive, and they gave most of the slots to applicants whose parents lobbied for them. However, that didn’t stop me from reapplying the next year. My father even took me to the vice chancellor, and after showing him my excellent results, he promised me that my name would be shortlisted. Sadly, when the list came out, I was offered a different course.

I studied Philosophy and Religion at the University of Jos. Although that wasn’t the course I wanted, I still gave it my best, and graduated successfully. I believe that the greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young, and anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.
So, after completing my first degree, I boosted my skills and portfolio by studying several professional courses. I got a certificate in Social Sector Management for Profit and Non-Profit Enterprise Development Center in Collaboration with PAN Athlantic University and Lagos Business School.
I also attended the Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership & Peacekeeping Centre, Jaji, and studied courses which include: Peace and Conflict Resolution, Leadership Development and Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Gender Mainstreaming.
My Major areas of focus are Peace and Security, Prevention of Violence against Women, Women Advocacy and Empowerment, Reproductive Health Rights, Menstrual Hygiene Management and so forth.
So I was moving from one rural settlement to another touching, changing and empowering lives.
During my studies, I discovered that women and girls are usually the victims of violence and abuse. In most regions of the world, females’ poverty rates are higher than those of males. So I started asking questions. I wanted to know how to empower women and get them involved in building the nation. What can I do to stop gender-related violence and discrimination? How can I become an exemplary leader? All those questions led to the birth of the Women and Girl Child Rescue and Development Initiative (WGRDI).

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When I started WGRDI in 2013, my goal was to empower women and girls who were experiencing Sexual and Gender Based Violence and Conflicts ”

WGRDI was officially registered in 2015, and we had to employ more people to work with us. Presently, we have a team of media personalities, legal advocates, partners, consultants, philanthropists, mentors, mediators, and many more.
At WGRDI, We organize Skill Acquisition Trainings, Trauma and Counseling, Peace Building and Capacity Strengthening Projects. We are currently working with Women for Women International on a project aimed at improving female reproductive health and rights conditions in Nigeria’s Plateau State.
In this project, we train them on the production, packaging, and branding of reusable sanitary pads. We have partnered with both national and international organizations to execute different projects. Some examples include A new Life Project, United Kingdom; Tarinna Olley Therapeutic Services, USA; Women Environmental Programme (WEP); Procter & Gamble (Always Nigeria), Peace Direct United Kingdom, Nexus Fund USA, Heavenly Culture World Peace Restoration of Light(HWPL)Sound Korea and International Women Peace Group(IWPG)South Korea, Women For Women International and more.

God has blessed women with powerful talents. But sadly, most have refused to show their gifts to the world because they are afraid of what people would say about them. For instance, the political sector of our society allocated 35% of the positions to women, yet we are still struggling to get political positions because most people believe a woman’s light should be confined only within the home.
I’m very passionate about helping women become successful. My dream is to see them involved actively in building the nation.
I want to see women who are strong, powerful and ready to advocate against injustice.
In the last nine years, the Women and Girl-Child Rescue & Development Initiative has been using its various platforms to advocate for women, and honestly, the results have been amazing. A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and overcoming challenges. While managing the organization, the major challenge we have encountered is the lack of funds to execute some huge projects.

In addition to being an advocate, I’m also a businesswoman. In the beginning, I funded the organizational expenses with the money I earned from my businesses. However, as we started expanding, more funds were needed. So we had to apply for grants from both national and international organizations. Fortunately, in 2016, Nexus Fund USA offered us a one-month Exchange Learning Program. The training was focused on capacity building, and it was well funded.
After the Training, they gave us a grant for a peace building and atrocity prevention project, which was implemented in some communities in Nasarawa State. Fortunately, that project was a major breakthrough for my organization, and after it, we also held other projects successfully.

I’m an ambassador for different brands because I am very good at what I do. I can strategize and mobilize people to work together and achieve a goal. However, life has taught me that no matter how good you are, some people will still misunderstand you and what you do. Some of them might even fabricate misconceptions and spread them to others.
I own an organization that requires engagement with people, and it is always difficult to work with those with the wrong mindset. However, I’m happy because as soon as those critics draw closer to us, they tend to understand our goals better and become more supportive.

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Every day I’m grateful to God for giving me this dream and helping me to live it. I believe that I’m fulfilling my life’s purpose through the humanitarian services that I offer. Since I started journeying on this path, I have never had any regrets. Instead, my life has been filled with uncountable blessings.
I have given hope to the hopeless through this humanitarian service. I have been a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. So, my self-fulfilling moments come from seeing the smiles on the faces of our beneficiaries. I always laugh out loud each time someone asks where else I would have loved to be if I wasn’t in this ministry. Honestly, there is no other place better than where I am right now. I believe that I’m doing what I was created to do, and I’m very happy about it.
Since the Women and Girl-Child Rescue & Development Initiative started, we have transformed lives and contributed in sustainable peace in many communities. As the founder, I have received many awards, appointments, and recognitions for rendering selfless services. I will mention a few of them. I am a member of the board of trustees of the A new Life Project, United Kingdom, and secretary of the Plateau Peace Practitioners Network (PPPN) from 2017 to 2019. I was appointed as a member of the peace committee of the International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG) in South Korea, to work with women all over the world to advocate for peace. I am also a global ambassador for Sexual Trauma and Restorative Services (STAR), USA, and am currently a member of the project committee of the Peace Building Advocacy Project, and I’m currently a member of the project committee of The Peace Building Advocacy Project of The Mission21 Funded Project.
In addition to being a successful career woman(Development Worker), I’m also a wife and mother. Sometimes, combining all my responsibilities can be very challenging. So, I learned how to multitask. Although I hired some domestic staff, I’m still actively involved in building my home. My family members have been very supportive, and they are also very proud of me. Sometimes, I wish my parents were still alive to see their blessings manifesting in my life.
I am a voracious reader, and inspirational books are my favorites. I watch Christian movies and some Nigerian films too. They say that all work and no play makes Jackie a dull girl. Therefore, during my free time, I enjoy hanging out with friends and family. The places I visit depend on my mood. If I want to explore the gifts of nature, I would go to places like rivers, waterfalls, or other cool sites for adventure. Sometimes I enjoy partying, dancing, or even just chatting with friends. I also enjoy shopping for beautiful clothes because I have to look good.

Most people have called me a feminist because I advocate for women’s rights, inclusion and development. However, I feel that what I do is deeper than the feminism portrayed on social media. If I had the chance to meet any public figure, I would choose to meet powerful women like Michelle Obama, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Finally, I want to commend Iya Magazine for creating a wonderful platform for women to share their life experiences, struggles, and successes. Most women are going through hard times, and these stories will inspire them to keep their faith alive. If you are in that category, don’t forget that success starts with believing in yourself. Therefore, no matter the situation you are in, always believe that you can achieve all your dreams. Did they say you are useless? If so, it’s time to prove them wrong. Stop sleeping like a sluggard. Rise on your feet and show the world your abilities. Yes! You can.

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