International Women’s Month and How Herbode’s CEO Is Educating Girls And Building A Safe Haven For Survivors Of GBV

In the third-largest city in Nigeria, with a town filled with brown sheet roofs, a little gem was born. Her name is Sinmiloluwa Isabella Aboluwade. She was born in Ibadan on the 3rd of August, 1999 and grew up in the multilingual area of Lagos State, Iyana-paja. Her experiences would later form her career path to sponsoring girls to school and providing a haven for women and girls in her nation.

After Sinmiloluwa finished primary and secondary school education in Lagos, she studied Nursing science at Achievers University, Owo. Growing up, she had a lot of issues with her education due to financial difficulties; this made her passionate about the education of young girls, and it has always been a dream to support the education of young girls.

As a young girl,  Sinmiloluwa was around a lot of women and girls who were victims of domestic violence and abuse but had nowhere to go. These experiences sparked the idea of a home and haven for women and girls, hence the birth of Herbode.

Herbode is a Non-Governmental Organisation founded on August 19, 2023, aspiring to build a home for survivors of domestic abuse. It is to be a place for women and girls to go when they just need a haven. An abode, hence the name HERBODE.

So far, Herbode has been able to enrol three girls in school, on course for a full scholarship, and has also provided mentors and financial support for numerous women. 

For International Women’s Month, Simbiat Bakare journalist, chatted with Sinmiloluwa on their recent projects on educating girls and plans for Women’s Month. chat with Herbode CEO, Sinmiloluwa Isabella Aboluwade

  1. HERBODE is one of Nigeria’s most reputable institutions catering for girls’ education. What is the motivation to establish it?

The motivation stems from a deep commitment to issues affecting the girl child, driven by a passion for positive change and a desire to make a meaningful impact in our community. Girls account for 60% of out-of-school children in Nigeria due to factors such as poverty, child marriage and discriminatory societal norms. We want to change this one girl child at a time because we believe education can help you break barriers or, at least, it’s a starting point to opening a door of endless opportunities. We also believe that being educated enables you to make better choices, which can translate into a better quality of life. We want this for the girl child, and I believe we will get there. Although our main focus is on never-been-enrolled girls, we are also looking out for enrolled girls who are on the verge of dropping out due to financial reasons. 

2. What is the reality of uneducated girls in Nigeria, and how can more people help mitigate it?

Uneducated girls in Nigeria are at a high risk of facing gender-based discrimination and being subjected to traditional norms. Most families feel their female children don’t need to go to school because they would be more ‘useful’ at home; they also feel that a girl’s education is not necessary because she’ll end up in her husband’s house, so a certificate is not necessary. Most importantly, some families can’t afford to send their children to school. People can help mitigate this by donating to our fundraiser. We are currently sponsoring three girls through school. We hope to do more. We also want to hold workshops sensitising people on how important it is for more girls to get educated.  Girls can also be empowered through mentoring. We are hoping to have successful women in their respective fields/careers to counsel young girls and motivate them.

  1. Your organisation recently kickstarted the women’s health series. What’s the strategy behind this initiative?

We want women and girls to be sensitised enough to make informed decisions about their well-being. I included women because Herbode is also working on an outreach targeted at young university students (women). We want to address the healthcare needs, especially reproductive healthcare and challenges faced by women concerning their health. We want them to know what should be normal and not normal. With enough support from healthcare brands, we hope to achieve this. Details will be out as soon as plans are finalised. 

  1. Beyond the Women in Health series, what other programmes do you have in place?

We are still on the ‘Educate a Girl Child’ project, plus the healthcare series, which will go on until the 3rd quarter of the year. We are very much focused on those right now, but please watch out for our upcoming project in the 4th quarter of the year. 

  1. Do you intend to collaborate with other organisations for the celebration of International Women’s Month? What plan do you have?

Yes, we do. We plan to collaborate with our sister NGOs. We also want to launch campaigns to raise awareness about issues affecting women globally and celebrate the accomplishments of women in various fields. Additionally, we could leverage fundraising efforts to support our women-centric initiatives/projects. 

  1. How can people volunteer to be involved in your organisation, and what urgent aid do you require?

We have a volunteer form and an HR team for the hiring process. We have had to do this because we must vet the volunteers we take in. While we appreciate getting volunteering offers, it’s also important that they know what they have to do in their respective teams or at least be willing to learn and be consistent. We have prospective volunteers fill out a form, then HR reaches out to them for a brief interview, and the best candidates from the hiring process are added to the team.

We need financial support. Donate to our fundraiser. Currently, we have placed three girls on a full scholarship. We want to do this with more girls; donations will ensure that. We also want visibility, so I am grateful to for doing this with us. Engage with our social media posts. We are on Twitter @herbode and Instagram @officialherbode. 

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