SuperWoman Girl

I thought I was wasting alot of time in school: Susan Adokorach.

Suzan Adokorach behind the microphone at the Wizarts Studios

Photo:Susan smiles at a freind, during their SuperWoman radio production at the Wizarts Media studios

Making our way to Paicho Secondary school, one of the 5 schools in Gulu where the SuperWoman project is being implemented made for an exciting journey. The sight of women riding bicycles, with a baby on their back, a load of firewood and a basket of food tied to the carrier, is what welcomes you to this part of Gulu. On first impression, this sight might appear to be a sign of women empowerment. Do not be deceived. It is far from it.

With the scorching sun high above, we quickly make our way through the wide school compound from the car to find shelter under the welcoming shade of one of few trees in the school compound.  

Teacher Joyce Akello, the Lead Female Teacher (LFT) welcomes us and insists we sit under the tree shade as it is cooler than elsewhere on the school premises. It is here that I get to hear from Tr. Joyce on how the SuperWoman project is doing in Paicho SS, nine months down the road as well as meet Susan Adokorach a senior three student at the school.

Like every girl who gets the opportunity to go to school, Susan had a dream. A dream to become someone important in her society. Selected among the 5 girls to the Wizarts Foundation studios, it was impossible to tell that this soft spoken girl was battling with a problem pushing her closer and closer to dropping out of school. On this particular trip to produce their SuperWoman radio show, Susan did an amazing job in their school drama when she took on the role of a head teacher. The drama plot focused on answering the question; should girls who perform poorly in class drop out of school? Little did we know, that for Susan, this topic hit close to home.

Lead Female Teacher, at Paicho SS Joyce Akello, during the interview

Photo: SuperWoman Lead Female Teacher (L.F.T) Akello Joyce, at Paicho SS during the interview

With a coy smile on her face, Susan joins me under the breezy tree shade to share her transformation story with me. Having noticed that her performance in class was poor and very discouraging, Susan narrates how she made up her mind to leave school and go figure out something to do with her life. “I thought I was wasting a lot of time in school since my performance in class was very poor.”

"I thought I was wasting a lot of time in school since my performance in class was very poor.”

Instead of attending class, Susan had resorted to hanging out in the small trading center near the school. Here she would sit and crack jokes all day with her friends who were mostly older boys. This behavior did not go unnoticed by Teacher Joyce, who decided to call her for a talk. Seeing that her talks were yielding no results, Teacher Joyce decided to summon Susan and forced her to take part in the Superwoman school meeting. “She was a very difficult girl to handle” teacher Joyce says as she shakes her head at the memory. 

Having been trained and prepared to produce their radio show, Suzan was among the girls selected by Teacher Joyce to come to Kampala. Little did they both know, that this would be Suzan’s turning point. The two-day stay in Kampala involved more than just producing their radio show. The girls received inspirational talks from their facilitators, Daisy and Poline who are responsible for facilitating the girls’ radio production process. In addition to this, the girls were given a city tour of some of the land marks in the Kampala like the Uganda parliament, Museum and Makerere University.

It is these and more activities that Suzan attributes her change of heart to. She says being given the opportunity to travel to Kampala and see a bigger picture of the world, encouraged to stay in school. The role she played as a school head teacher required her to understand why staying in school is important and this too opened her eyes to the value of education.

Outcomes

Asked about her parent’s response to this transformation, Susan, in typical African style exclaims how her parents are very happy to see her excited about attending school again. She says that unlike before, she now wakes up early to prepare for school and gets there on time. This change in behavior has not gone unnoticed by her parents, nor her teachers.

Her dream is to become a secondary school teacher, just like teacher Joyce. With this, she hopes to help girls who want to drop out of school for whatever reason, stay in school. This, Suzan assures me she will do through giving the girls the encouragement to stay in school, just like she received.

As we prepare to leave, I teasingly ask Susan if at this point, she would leave school if I offered her a large sum of money. Without even thinking about my enticing offer, Susan shakes her head and gives me a firm “No!” As a girl who has in the process built enough confidence, Susan takes the microphone from me, looks straight into the recording camera and delivers her message girls she hopes will read or watch her story, “I am very happy to be saying this. I encourage girls who want to drop out of school due to poor performance to stay in school. There might be something else in school you may discover you are good at. Just think big and stay determined. Focus on working towards the Woman you want to be”  

As if shocked at her own confidence, Susan shyly hands back the microphone to me, and stands up. It is moments like these that give us reason to do what we do-work to keep girls in school. Imagine how many "Susans" out there are going to be transformed by SuperWoman! 

Radio Recordings as a healing factor.

The Super Woman trainings that take place every Friday and Saturday have brought to our realization the therapeutic side with which they affect the girls. Through communication methods like drama, speech and narration used during rehearsal and studio recordings, we have come to see certain emotions evoked from the girls. Whether this is because we push them hard to deliver on to the microphone or because they have been through these situations, we get to see joy, despair and sympathy during any given recording session. We are insensitive to the fact that some these-if not all-could be their real life situations and we approach every recording from strength and with positivity.

The topics depicted during our sessions range from Gender Based Violence (GBV), Sexual Abuse, Violence in the home, Early Child Marriage, Child Labor and, “the Woman I want to Be”. One can say these are deep rooted issues in our society that one shouldn’t have to relive if they have been through them, especially for young girls. Our sessions prove this belief wrong. For one, these recordings are shared to their communities through community radios where their peers going through the same situations can listen and find encouragement and solutions on how to overcome them.

While recording, we see faces of fear, tears, but most importantly, faces with smiles. At Wizarts foundation, it gives our team joy and touches a deep place in them when a girl’s face has tears of joy. Laughter through one’s tears tells us the producer has broken through the barrier of self-doubt for this girl and it is very evident when she start’s to share “her story from a place of strength” and not fear. We would like to think that on top of the capacity we’re building in them during radio production trainings, we’re reaching one layer deeper and helping them shed some of the weight they carry with them daily from their scars.

Although there’s a great number of girls yet to be reached in Uganda, it is for reasons like this that we think the Super Woman project is so important for young girls today. It is also true to say that it is for reasons like this that we do not burn out week after week. As an organization that prides ourselves in communication for development, we hope, with the help of our community, to keep creating impactful material to change lives and perspectives in Uganda and beyond. There’s still work yet to be done in regard to the “girl child” as to why education is important in shaping their future and everyday life and life choices.