January Newsletter 2024

By Cognito . On Thursday, February 1, 2024

Dear readers,

Welcome to the January edition of the Voice Newsletter, where we embark on a journey of discovery, celebrating impactful initiatives and transformative stories that echo the spirit of collaboration, empowerment and positive change.

In this edition, we made a short reflection on 2023, shining a spotlight on the final strides of 2023, where the Ike Foundation for Autism (IFA) concluded its year-long series of Capacity Building Seminars, reinforcing the commitment to accessible education and health for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Nigeria.

We then delve into the heart of Lagos, where Cognito's Innovate and Learn approach brings forth inspiring stories of empowerment led by the Center for the Advancement and Protection of the Rights of Vulnerable People (CAPRIGHTS-VP) and the International Center For Environmental Health and Development (ICEHD). The "Reclaim Your Right" project by CAPRIGHTS-VP and ICEHD's "Badagry Women Empowerment Program" are making waves, transforming the lives of vulnerable women and fostering resilience.

Our journey continues with a progress update from the Female Inmates & Returned Citizens (FIRC) program, in Port Harcourt Correctional Facility. The program, managed by the dedicated Lucy Dangana, not only enhances skills but also fights for a more inclusive and gender-sensitive environment for female inmates and ex-inmates.

In Enugu, the Carmelite Prisoners’ Interest Organization (CAPIO) empowers inmates through the Pollrite23 project, promoting advocacy and media skills. This initiative reflects CAPIO's unwavering commitment to the welfare and rights of inmates. Lastly, we celebrate the commencement of 2024 with Cognito facilitating the first coaching session on Project Management. 

As we navigate this new year, the Voice community remains dedicated to amplifying voices, fostering collaboration, and inspiring positive change especially amongst marginalized populations. Thank you for being an integral part of our community, and we hope this edition fuels your enthusiasm for our collective journey toward a more inclusive and empowered world.

Reflecting on the Linking and Learning Journey in 2023: Empowerment, Amplification, and Innovation

Reflecting on the remarkable journey of linking and learning in Nigeria, Cognito is honoured to have collaborated with the amazing organisations in Voice to facilitate the Linking and Learning grant of the Voice project, focused on collaboration, sharing learnings, and fostering innovation among grantee partners. Cognito's commitment to learning and innovation is evident in its five-pronged linking and learning approach; coaching, amplification, innovate and learn, digital platform and community of practice.

The monthly virtual coaching sessions have been a great source of empowerment.  We covered diverse topics such as gender gaps in digital technology, mastering digital communication, social media and storytelling. We thank all our coaching champions for sharing their knowledge with us and to all members of the Voice family, for making the session impactful and exciting, we say a big thank you.

Flyers for monthly coaching session and a snapshot of participants during one of the coaching sessions

We also had a memorable linking and learning event in Abeokuta, Ogun State. It was a blend of learning, capacity building, fun and adventure packed into three days.

The linking and learning digital hub - "Voice Naija", our co-created interactive platform had tremendous growth in 2023, with useful resources added from our programmes such as gender mainstreaming and family planning guidelines, social justice learnings, and eldercare research. The platform also recorded more engagements in 2023. The hub also houses the linking and learning monthly newsletter that tells our monthly story.

We are excited to see how our community of practice (CoP) has evolved. The four CoP’s have been fully functional in 2023, with each hosting learning activities and producing valuable products which have been hosted on Voice Naija. 2023 was also a great year of collaboration as the CoPs collaborated with Government stakeholder and other partners and now have active members that were not part of Voice grantees. We look forward to more collaborations and greater strides in 2024.

Most exciting for us in Cognito was visiting grantees in their various locations across the country and gaining insights into their methodologies, ways of working, learnings and innovations. The Innovate and Learn approach will be collated into a book and will be launched in April during the Voice Linking and Learning close out ceremony. We are also excited to have collaborated with grantees to host a session in a global conference “Rise Africa”, providing a platform to share the amazing work of grantees on a global stage. We hope to have more of such opportunities in 2024.

Collage showing 2023 in pictures.

Ike Foundation for Autism Wraps Up 2023 with Final Capacity Building Seminar

In a significant milestone for the ongoing project, Accessible Education and Health for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Africa (The Case Study of Nigeria), the Ike Foundation for Autism concluded its year-long series of Capacity Building Seminars with the fifth and final session on December 16th, 2023.

Flyer for the Capacity Building Seminar

This concluding seminar, hosted in Gwarinpa, Abuja, served as a refresher course, consolidating key insights and knowledge shared throughout the preceding seminars conducted in various parts of Abuja.

Rightholders which include parents, educators, caregivers and healthcare professionals were guided through a recap of essential topics, offering a holistic understanding of autism spectrum disorders and effective approaches to support individuals on the spectrum.

Rightsholders during the Capacity Building Seminar.

The event underscores the foundation's commitment to autism awareness, creative exploration, and fostering empathy over prejudice. 

Empowering Women and Transforming Lives: Cognito’s Innovate and Learn Approach Unveils Impactful Results in Lagos

In a recent visit under the Innovate and Learn approach, Cognito, the Linking and Learning facilitators in Nigeria, delved into the heart of transformative projects led by the  Center for the Advancement and Protection of the Rights of Vulnerable People (CAPRIGHTS-VP) and International Center For Environmental Health and Development (ICEHD) in Lagos. The journey unveiled inspiring stories of innovations, empowerment, learnings and resilience from rightsholders and grantees, leaving a lasting impact on the communities they serve.

CAPRIGHTS-VP: Nurturing Dreams, Transforming Lives

CAPRIGHTS-VP's "Reclaim Your Right" project is making waves in the lives of women like Florence Ikelwonwu, Nwafor Louisa Nkem, Kehinde Richard, and Okafor Ekenedukwu. Florence, an Ugwu seller, expressed gratitude for the program's teachings on resource management and family planning, leading to improved business skills and financial independence. Nwafor, a fashion designer, highlighted how CAPRIGHTS-VP revitalised her career and provided financial stability for her family. Kehinde Richard, a businesswoman, emphasised the program's impact on her mindset, financial management skills, and improved customer relations. Okafor Ekenedukwu, a 40-year-old bookshop owner, credited Caprights for empowering her with financial independence through savings.

CAPRIGHTS-VP Rightholders and grantee captured during the Innovate and Learn visit

Agatha Chinedu, Project Lead at CAPRIGHTS-VP, reflected on the project's origin and its success in educating women on family planning, financial literacy, and creating a safe space for learning. The program's unexpected introduction of natural family planning methods proved to be a game-changer, fostering a sense of trust between the rightsholders and the grantee.

ICEHD: Cultivating Empowerment in Badagry

In Badagry, International Center For Environmental Health and Development’s (ICEHD) "Badagry Women Empowerment Program" is transforming the lives of female farmers under the able leadership of Mrs. Ibekwe Stella and Dr. Ndudi, a consulting partner. In addressing challenges faced in reaching women due to limited access to phones, ICEHD created smaller units and appointed mentors, ensuring the success of the program and easy communication within and between rightsholder units.

ICEHD Rightholders and grantees captured during the Innovate and Learn visit

Mrs. Shefau Lamidi, a woman farmer, shared her experience with the project, emphasising the positive impact on her crops and newfound confidence to voice her opinions. Ajimoh, another farmer, lauded ICEHD's honesty and dedication, highlighting the program's focus on practical interventions by visiting the farms.

Community leader Ifeoma praised the project's honesty and selflessness, highlighting its impact on bringing women together, giving them a voice, and bolstering their confidence to tackle responsibilities at home.

Linking and Learning: A Catalyst for Positive Change

Reflecting on the journey, stakeholders from both CAPRIGHTS-VP and ICEHD acknowledged the power of linking and learning. Agatha Chinedu of Caprights-VP highlighted the project's success in amplifying its work through social media, creating collaborations with other organisations, and fostering a supportive community.

Cognito team with CAPRIGHTS-VP and their rightsholders.

Mrs. Ibekwe Stella of ICEHD shared her linking and learning experiences, emphasising the importance of community of practice (CoP) and collaboration between grantee organisations. Dr. Ndudi underscored the project's ability to connect women with authorities and address their concerns, through meaningful dialogue.

Through projects like "Reclaim Your Right" and "Badagry Women Empowerment Program, Voice, Cognito, Caprights-VP, and ICEHD are paving the way for a brighter, empowered future for women in Lagos.

FIRC Program Update: Transformative Training for Female Inmates Reaches Port Harcourt Correctional Facility

In a recent development, the Female Inmates & Returned Citizens (FIRC) program, under the guidance of Program Officer Lucy Dangana, shared exciting progress in their initiative to empower female inmates and ex-inmates.

Lucy Dangana gave an update on the training that took place at the Port Harcourt Custodial Centre. The focus of this training program was to enhance the skill and knowledge of female inmates in the production of reusable sanitary pads as well as fight for a more inclusive and gender sensitive environment for women in correctional centres. This was in line with their Voice supported project which not only contributes to personal hygiene but also serves as a pathway to self-reliance for the women involved.

Lucy Dangana (Program Manager) and inmates of the Port Harcourt Correctional Center during training.

A key partner in this initiative is the Carmelite Prisoners’ Interest Organization (CAPIO), providing technical assistance to FIRC for the project as they share similar rightsholder groups. Initially launched with support solely from Voice, the project has now garnered additional backing from ActionAid Nigeria, marking a significant step forward in expanding its reach and impact.

The FIRC program remains committed to breaking barriers and providing avenues for self-sufficiency. As the training unfolds within the Port Harcourt Custodial Centre, the impact on the lives of female inmates and ex-inmates is tangible, offering them a chance at a more promising post-incarceration life.

CAPIO Empowers Inmates in Enugu: Advocacy and Media Training Under Pollrite23 Project

On the 15th of January, Carmelite Prisoners’ Interest Organization (CAPIO) took a significant step in advancing the Pollrite23 project aimed at promoting advocacy and political participation among inmates in Nigeria. CAPIO Nigeria conducted an impactful training session at the Enugu Maximum Security Custodial Centre, focusing on advocacy and media skills for both male and female inmates.

Training session at the Enugu Maximum Security Custodial Centre

The three intensive training sessions were strategically designed to build the inmates' capacity in various forms of advocacy and approaches. The goal was to empower them to effectively communicate their needs using appropriate channels, thereby fostering their active participation in civic and political processes.

The Pollrite23 project by CAPIO, a testament to their commitment to inmates welfare and rights, has found valuable support from Voice, and other grantee partners.

Cognito Facilitates the First Coaching Session for the Year 2024 on Project Management

Coaching session flyer and a snapshot of grantees during the coaching session

Under the Coaching approach being employed by Cognito for linking and learning, the January coaching session featured the expert Mr. Martin-Mary Falana as the key speaker. The session introduced the innovative "Smarter G" framework, redefining conventional project objectives to be 'expandable,' 'rewarding,' and 'gender-responsive.'

Under Mr. Falana's expert guidance, attendees explored practical tools like Gantt charts for effective project planning, emphasising adaptability across various project scopes. The coaching session underscored the crucial role of continuous monitoring, ensuring projects navigate challenges seamlessly from the planning phase.

Quoting Mr. Falana, "Smarter G empowers us to create projects that go beyond meeting goals. They become adaptable, rewarding, and inclusive of gender considerations, fostering impactful outcomes." For those who missed this enlightening session, the recording and an article are available on the Voice Naija Platform, offering a valuable resource for those eager to enhance their project management prowess. Embrace the Smarter G methodology to elevate your project effectiveness.

Thank you for taking the time to read this edition of the newsletter. We hope you found it informative and engaging. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to reach out.

Finally, we urge you to stay curious, stay connected, and as always, stay awesome!

Until next time,

(Linking and Learning Facilitator)

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