A group of four young women gathered around the small sink in the kitchen. They fell into an easy rhythm – scraping off food, washing with hot water and soap, rinsing, and putting the dishes away. They were quiet as they worked – one normally done by the center staff, but was taken over by the teens after a weekend of self reflection and growing awareness. In another room, the staff normally tasked with clean-up rested quietly, grateful for the small break and the young women who offered it to them.
Recently, all the teenage girls at the Back2Back Nigeria site had a weekend retreat. It was a time spent hearing from speakers, bonding over activities, and growing in their individual faith. Back2Back staff, Ene Oklo, also had a desire for the girls to participate in outreach while they were away. The retreat center is located in a community recovering from recent unrest.
“Many homes were burnt to the ground and families lost resources,” shared Ene. “As they’re rebuilding, I wanted the girls to lend a helping hand.”
In the weeks leading up to the retreat, staff and teens gathered donations from their communities. As donations poured in, the girls felt inspired to also give from their own reserves, and used some of their money to purchase non-perishable food items. The staff were thrilled to see many more donations than expected of food, shoes, clothing, and basic toiletries.
“We’re encouraging the girls to take ownership in what they’re part of, and so I wanted them to lead the outreach,” explained Ene. One of the young women in the Transitions Program, Laitu, took charge. She gathered everyone in the community and led a time of prayer, asking the residents to line up for what they needed.
The girls returned to the center from the outreach excited at the success and interactions with the community members. They debriefed, empathizing over shared backgrounds. One of the girls also realized how different her life looked now, “I remember what it was like to live like that,” she shared with the group. “I’m grateful to have the opportunities before me now.”
The time away was fruitful for each girl, and the staff believe it was the outreach that impacted them the most. “It was eye opening and a humble reminder of what God can and will do through His people,” shared Ene.
It will not be the last time the young women will gather for fellowship, leaving an impact on the spaces and people around them. Together, we celebrate all the ways the girls are learning and growing. We are grateful for the examples set by staff, advocates, and sponsors from around the world. Each teen learns by example, and we are so thankful they’re learning from kindness and generosity.