Empowering Trans-Ekulu Girls Through the Art of Chess

After our free online chess lessons in June, we recognised the importance of reaching even more women and girls. The question was: how?

As you know, Nigeria has a huge geography, so we are advancing at a steady pace, ensuring every Queen gets her due, no matter where she is. One step at a time, like a pawn.

Joined by our enthusiastic member, Dr Jovita, Promoting Queens set out to share the gift of chess to Trans-Ekulu Girls Secondary School, Enugu, in the eastern region of Nigeria.

It was truly a profound experience for both us and the wonderful girls at Trans Ekulu, Enugu.

Let us share the heartfelt story with you.

The beautiful coal city (Enugu) is home to Trans-Ekulu Girls Secondary School, a public secondary school for girls alone.

With the needy state of the public educational sector in Nigeria, we were indeed honoured to be of service to the Queens at Trans-Ekulu Girls School.

We were received warmly by the school authority, and yes, they are open to support from willing bodies to further enhance the learning experience at their school.

Chess was a new phenomenon to the school, so we had to convince the authorities how chess could benefit them, especially for their young girls and the numerous skills they stand to gain by engaging in chess.

Some challenges

While there were some challenges, our enthusiasm for empowering the girls at Trans -Ekulu weighed more than any bump, thanks to our ever-bubbly team members, especially Dr Jovita!

One major challenge was the receptiveness of the school towards chess. Yes, they were open to chess lessons, but they had more pressing academic needs.

The girls were in need of additional support in subjects like mathematics and English. But this was no problem for our team headed by Dr Jovita, we obliged and incorporated these subjects as part of the chess outreach.

Also, we had to cater especially to some of the girls at the school who were maids and had other duties to perform outside the confines of schooling.

How did we get them involved? Well, we preach inclusivity, so our team was extra patient with the girls and understanding of the unfair reality.

We also experienced a reduction in the number of girls that enrolled for chess. We started our chess session with about 50 of the girls and it reduced to 30 girls.

Through all these challenges, what fueled our determination were the radiant smiles and unwavering enthusiasm of the girls.

Their inspirational spirit seemed to soar beyond the limitations of their surroundings – all they needed was a game of chess!

Chess all the way!

While we also tutored Mathematics and English, expectedly, the chess sessions were the most sought after by the girls. Many of the girls even brought their friends along.

The excitement of the girls over the chessboard will make you fall in love with chess again if your love for the game is waxing cold.

To some of the girls, it felt like a privilege to play this queenly game! But then again, we, as is in our manner had to assure the girls that they are Queens regardless.

The winners from our in-house tournament were awarded chessboards and we gave out scholarships to 24 students to help them stay in school.

Through the two weeks we spent at Trans-Ekulu Girls Secondary School, in the end, it felt like it was just a minute!

You can almost feel the sadness from the girls when we said goodbye.

But with Promoting Queens, it’s never goodbye, we will keep doing this amazing work of empowering women through chess.

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