Explore what some of the mentors and young women and girls in our SONAFA Girls Clubs have to say about the impact of Batonga’s programs on their lives and communities.

Delphine

Through Batonga’s SONAFA program, Delphine was able to gain important financial literacy and business skills not taught in traditional formal schools. With the knowledge, confidence and mentorship she gained through Batonga’s program, she was able to launch her own soap business called “PAIX” or “Peace.” As Delphine grew her business, she made a point to employ and empower local girls in her community and she included them in her journey to success. She later sought and won startup funding from the Beninese Government to expand her business. Delphine is a wonderful example of how equipping young women with transferable skills and connecting them to a network of support and mentorship allows them to become changemakers and empowered members of their community. As Delphine continues to expand her business, she incorporates Batonga values of female empowerment, sustainability, and financial accountability each step of the way.

Anasthasie

As a child, Anasthasie always dreamt of becoming a doctor. Her goal was to eradicate infant and child mortality in her village. Having already lost her mother at a young age, she was living with her father when he suddenly passed away, leaving her alone as an adolescent. Anastasie was unsure of how she could continue her education, much less find meaningful employment. Batonga made sure she was able to acquire the skills, knowledge and mentorship she needed to not only survive, but thrive.

Today, Anasthasie attends university while serving as a Batonga mentor for over 70 girls in 3 SONAFA Girls Clubs. Since 2016, she has worked with her girls to create solar-powered cell phone charging stations, using training she received from a Batonga solar technology program she attended in Sierra Leone. These businesses offer young women and girls income-generating opportunities and a chance to be leaders in their own community. Over the past ten years with Batonga, Anasthasie has become a confident and successful young woman and is truly a changemaker and role model in her community.

Germaine, Batonga Mentor

“Being a mentor to these girls has been such a good experience for me. I have grown and learned so much by teaching this curriculum and by serving as a leader and friend to these girls from my community. It has truly opened my mind.”

The Batonga Foundation began working with Germaine in 2008 when she was a middle school student in the town of Zogbodome. In the beginning, Germaine often went to school without breakfast and could rarely afford the necessary supplies. Following her mother’s death, she feared that she would be forced to abandon school to get married.

However, with the help of the Batonga Foundation, she was provided with the knowledge, resources, and support to stay in school. Germaine’s grades and attendance improved dramatically, helping her continue on to high school.

In 2011, Germaine became pregnant at the age of 15, but persevered and continued to attend classes until leaving briefly in January 2012 to give birth. In February 2012, Germaine returned to school and despite the added responsibilities of being a young mother, continued to excel academically. When tragedy struck, and her daughter passed away in 2014, she again persevered and despite immense odds graduated high school.

Following her graduation, Germaine began two endeavors to improve both her quality of life and the quality of the lives of others: she began attending university and she became a Batonga Mentor. After years as a Batonga Scholar, Germaine wanted to give back to her community by becoming a friend, teacher, and confidant to the most off-track girls in her community.

Batonga girl in Azonkangoudo

“Participation in the clubs means that people look at us differently in the community. We are given more value.”

Batonga girl in Savalou

“I always make sure I’m on time to my club meetings. Here, I am able to talk about things and get information that I cannot find at home. Here I can prepare for the future and become the person I want to be.”

Batonga girl in Akété

“The mentors give us the courage to believe in the future. They teach us how to think about tomorrow, how to organize our lives. Otherwise, before, we live only day by day without really having a fixed goal of life. It is thanks to my participation in the club that I can build my dream.”

Silifa, Batonga Girls Club Member

“With Batonga’s guidance, I became determined to not marry at the first opportunity and drop out of school. In my village there are many girls who have dropped out because they became pregnant…if I am able to stay in school, it is thanks to the Batonga program, and I am grateful.”

Eudoxie, Girl Club Member Bohicon, Benin

“I am so thankful that the Batonga Foundation brought this program to my village, connecting many girls my age who are facing similar challenges. I look forward to participating and learning new things each week. The project has also given us the chance to support ourselves through starting small businesses. All of the girls in my club have learned how to produce liquid and solid soaps which we now sell. Our mentors have given us guidance and knowledge on budgeting and money management. My participation in the program has allowed me to acquire so much knowledge. My life has changed. I have become much more disciplined and hopeful. The club’s activities help me to look beyond my worries and prepare for a better future. That is why I ask to do everything necessary so that these clubs never disappear. “