When Jonah Jang was elected into office as Governor of Plateau State several years ago, his wife saw the perfect opportunity to get involved personally in improving the region’s welfare. Aware of the high levels of poverty among women and youth, Ngo Talatu Jang established the Women in Agriculture and Youth Empowerment (WAYE) Foundation in 2007. Slowly but surely, the organisation is taking on more students and lending them tools to forge a better life for themselves.
“I decided to set up the WAYE Foundation to help women and young people to learn new skills so they will be ready to earn some money and feed themselves and their families,” says Mrs. Jang. “We started with about 75 students and now we have about 130. To date, we’ve graduated about 1,000 students.”
WAYE trains in traditional skill sets, such as fabric dyeing, sewing, knitting and cooking and in more modern ones like IT, modern agricultural farming and hairdressing. Its work is divided into four programmes: human development and skill acquisition, sustainable small-scale agriculture, micro-enterprise
development and reproductive health.
This structure ensures WAYE students not only build up capacity but also learn the methods to put their new skills to use. The health programme aims to address the treatment, care and rehabilitation of students with VVF (Vesico Vaginal Fistula) and HIV/AIDS, as well as improve child health.
The work of this non-governmental and non-profit organisation is promoting social and economic development among its target groups, and is serving as an example for other Nigerian states, as well. WAYE is not without its challenges, however. “We do not have money to run the place,” laments Mrs. Jang. “I am doing it on my own. So if international NGOs can support us with money, that would be good. When people graduate, we have to give them things to do and machinery to use.”