Chidi had a great youth activity idea. The sister of a lady from her church was visiting from Paris, where she was working for an international organisation and had agreed to come to the cooking club. The only professional women that she had introduced to the young women in the club had previously been local. They had good jobs, but they weren’t international or glamorous.

The club started at five, and the guests usually came at that time, so that the girls could learn informally from her throughout the activity. Mrs James turned up at 6 wearing a designer suit. She didn’t apologise, she just explained that she had been meeting with someone important. The girls were making french meringues to celebrate having a visitor from France. When they offered one to Mrs James, she said she would never eat a meringue outside of Paris.

Chidi worked hard to ask her about her career. The girls didn’t ask any questions. Mrs James explained that she had studied very hard in school and got a scholarship to study abroad after coming top in her studies. “The only thing holding you back is your attitude,” she said.

The next week, only three of the girls came to the cooking club.

Chidi thought her exotic guest would raise the youth club girls’ aspirations. On the contrary, she made the girls feel inferior. They couldn’t relate to her story which made them feel that success was even less possible than before. How do we know this? Because Chidi had set up a system where she asked the girls for feedback at the end of each session.

Why feedback matters

Throughout Chidi’s story, we have seen a youth worker committed to inspiring young women. But at every turn, we have seen the value of listening to others to ensure that the activity will reach those goals. Once the project has started this dialogue doesn’t end. Everyone involved in your work – funders, volunteers or staff, young women, parents and others – wants to know their contribution is making a difference. You can learn more about this here.

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