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Pleasant Gathering, an organization from Enugu, Nigeria dedicated to transforming the lives of Nigerian youth and women, presented a Parallel Event at the March 2016 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60). The event held at the UN Church Center in New York City, was held in collaboration with the Panamerican-Panafrican Association, a NGO in Consultative Status with ECOSOC,  

Pleasant Gathering’s dynamic presentation brought awareness to their work in providing free health care services to the needy, spearheading a reading campaign in the schools, organizing job training programs and rescuing women and young girls from the sex trade in Nigeria. 

Presided over by barrister Joy Ogbonaya, founder and President of Pleasant Gathering, the presentation was received by some in attendance as ­­one of the most inspiring events of the Conference. Ogbonaya, founded Pleasant Gathering to bring change and inspire youth using a faith-based approach with an emphasis on women and the girl child, which are the most neglected population in her country. 

Taking a hands-on approach, the organization literally rescues women, visiting areas in Enugu late at night frequented by sex workers and giving them shelter, food and employment opportunities. According to Ogbonaya, one third of women in Nigeria are victims of violence, and as an attorney Ogbonaya works for the Nigerian legal aid society to provide them legal representation. In her region in Southeast Nigeria, Barister Ogbonaya also visits prisons to meet inmates who are in need of legal services. 

Pleasant Gathering believes in a positive approach, citing the importance of providing education to young girls through their reading program and skills training. They believe that is the most effective way to help at risk young girls from being lured into prostitution and to rehabilitate young women who see no way out from their victimization.  

A deeply moving documentary on the work of Pleasant Gathering was presented at the CSW event with inspiring testimony by several women whose lives were transformed because of Pleasant Gathering’s intervention. One young pregnant woman sex worker who also had several children was able to take a new direction in her life by accepting Pleasant Gathering’s help. 

The event was well attended. Virginia Dempsey, a member of the Woodbridge, Virginia Soroptimists (which is also very active in addressing the issue of human trafficking around the world) commented that the Pleasant Gathering presentation was one of the most inspiring she attended at the Conference and admired Ogboyana’s organization for its commitment. Indeed, Mrs. Ogbonaya’s presentation was very well received and elicited incisive commentaries from the audience. One attendant stated that more attention should be given to communicating with the parents of at-risk girls as they may be the root cause for their children’s behavior. Another advocate for women who was in attendance stated that efforts should be directed to changing the laws in Nigeria, which denies equal rights to women in marriage, and that it was essential to take an “abolistionist” approach to ending the institution of prostitution. 

Pleasant Gathering continues its Faith-Centered approach to empowering hundreds of young women so they may have a choice to live with dignity, with the help of an education, vocational training and positive life skills. 

 

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