Bay's Story: "enabling change through empowering women and girls" got featured in Wakefield Council Adult Social Care Website
Central to Bay’s story is the charity she set up in 2012, Hope for the Needy Association (HOFNA). As a passion, Bay currently supports HOFNA’s operations in Cameroon from here in the UK. Since 2012 HOFNA and Bay's work has gained international recognition and support, including being granted special consultative status by the UN Economic and Social Council. Additionally, HOFNA’s ‘creative arts for female empowerment’ project and ‘National Initiative to End Violence Against Women’ have been supported by the US Department of State and the Federal Foreign Republic of Germany. Another highlight was when in 2014 Bay met former US President Barack Obama in Washington DC after being personally recognised by him through the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. Bay has also been recognised by the British Government through the Chevening Scholarship for Global Leaders in 2019. Through this Bay Obtained an MA in Conflict, Security and Development from the University of Sussex.
At the root of all these achievements is Bay's motivation to bring about change in communities through empowering women and girls to become self-reliant and socially conscious leaders who are realising their full potential. Growing up she noticed how within her community girls' education was not prioritised, with many female classmates dropping out of school at a young age to get married. She also witnessed and experienced gender-based violence and saw the impact it has on women, girls, and whole communities.
It was these experiences that motivated Bay set up HOFNA, even though others around her did not understand or support her aims. Bay's goal was to empower women by targeting three issues; barriers to education for girls, forced child marriage, and unplanned pregnancy.
Since its founding the charity has launched numerous projects including a Girls Leadership Bootcamp, community radio program, a theatre production, a Men As Partners program to engage men in the fight against gender-based violence, and an economic empowerment initiative. Bay's favourite project is Making Education Realistic (MER), through which at least 320 girls have benefitted from scholarships which have enabled them to stay in school.
The annual Girls Leadership Bootcamp is also a highlight for Bay as she views this as a platform for inspiring the next generation of female leaders. Through the bootcamp, she gets to witness girls building important friendships and networks and gaining life skills that equip them to rise above challenges they experience. On a recent birthday, girls who attended the very first camp sent Bay personal messages about how her work had changed their lives and many have now asked if they can take on the responsibility of running the camp in the future. It's a great example of how Bay's work through HOFNA has empowered girls to pass what they have learnt to younger generations.
Now in the UK Bay is now a social worker, allowing her to use her skills also in a new context. She is particularly interested in the impact of domestic abuse on children from conception to 5 years old, a topic which she wrote her dissertation on. For her it is important to highlight how violence against one person is a community issue, the impact of which has a wide and long-lasting affect. By the same token, combatting these ingrained issues also comes from empowering groups and individuals within communities to make change by promoting their voice and agency around what matters to them. It's this understanding which has informed Bay's work with HOFNA, but also her social work in the UK.