A teenage counselor Mrs Ronke Adekoya, who is a Director of Education in Lagos State Ministry of Education and Principal of Anthony Village Senior High School, is leading in the fight against sexual molestation of young girls and also enlightening them about their body in preparation for puberty.
In a chat with Sunday Vanguard, she stated that her continuous visit and counsel to sex workers in a brothel in the area where she lives led to the brothel being shut down and has since become a residential building because all the inmates found better life through her special programme tagged, ‘Friendship with Vision’.
Her interest in teenagers developed after she found that many of them do not know what reaching puberty means.
“When they start their menstrual flow, you see the girls covering the stains on their uniforms with cardigan. This prompted me and the late Miss Anita Roper to start what we called ‘Growing up Class’. We told girls who participated what it meant to grow up from being a little girl to being a woman”, she said
In January 1985 when she was Principal of Regan Memorial Baptist Secondary School, Sabo Yaba, she worked with Roper, an American in the employ of the Baptist Church.
“Roper’s passion for teenagers prompted her into starting a Baptist Girls High School group called ‘Rain Utterance’. We concentrated mainly on teaching female teens what it meant to grow from a little girl to a woman. Along the line, other things came in, like teaching the teens good postures, self-esteem, etc. The project later metamorphosed into my foundation called Hephzibah Foundation”, she pointed out.
“Over the years, I have taken this passion into every school I was posted to. I enlighten girls and boys as well as teachers who relate with the teens better.
“Hephzibah Foundation started in 2004 at a time I had been posted to Gbagada Comprehensive Junior High School as Principal. We impacted over 200 students from different schools.
For example, during a programme at a secondary school in Gbagada, my telephone numbers were given to the students in the event that they had anything they wanted to share or ask question about.
The following Sunday I got call from a 14-year-old girl who claimed she had a confession to make. Her confession was that the family cook, a Calabar man, had been sexually assaulting her since she was eight years old, and threatening to kill her if she voiced out what was happening.
I asked about her mum, and she said the mother was a business woman who had no time for her. Her major concern was that at 14 she hadn’t started her menstruation and was scared that perhaps the cook had used it for rituals.
We later found out that her situation was hereditary. We also took her through different sessions and, at the end of the day, we were able to save that family and show the parents why that child needed their attention.
“We found that the thirst these children have for information is what leads them into most of the immoral acts they indulge in. Therefore, they should be duly informed about their private parts and other related issues that will keep them informed and in check”.
Adekoya plans to retire in Jan 2020. But ahead of the retirement, she is writing a book on teenagers.
“I want to tell teenagers that they are terrific. God has put a lot in you that need to be fulfilled. Relax as you grow up. If you are confronted with any problems, feel free to talk to your parents or any responsible adults around. In case any of you need a listening ear, here are some numbers to call: 08034341963 or 09096425900”.