Before now, I was always scared of codes. I mean seeing them alone gave me goose bumps. I would always be like,” Err, what’s happening here?” I felt it was too difficult to learn and it was a guy’s thing. But the turning point came for me when I had to use Matlab Programming Tool for my Project in school. I was struggling to follow a Matlab YouTube video but I got stuck at a point. So I met a Junior to help me out, I didn’t show him what I had done so far because I was not confident that I was on the right track. He billed me ₦10,000 saying he had a similar set of codes that he would just tweak it to solve my problem. I didn’t have the money at the time but I had to struggle to pay because the submission date was close. To my amazement, the codes he gave me were my exact same codes but just two lines were different. Apparently, I had a bug but I was not patient enough to fix it. I had a mixed feeling of regret and joy. Regret that I paid for it and Joy that I was very close to my result. That was when I told myself, “I must learn this thing!”
I developed interest in Python, took online courses, got myself in the right Python Community, and I got help from experienced Programmers and Mentors. While I was learning I was always willing to share the little I knew with my friends, a couple of them that were already programmers too I realized it made me better. But one thing I told myself was that I was going to share this knowledge because I knew there were many people out there that still think coding is hard especially ladies. I volunteered to teach Python at any chance I got, to the extent that a friend called me one day and said, “Elohor, no de do free things” (meaning: stop teaching for free). They were of the opinion that I could make a lot of money from it. But I thought to myself but I didn’t pay to learn, let this be my little “give back” to society. I believe that the best use of knowledge and influence is in the service of others and the community.
I saw the call for coaches for Django girls Lagos (Nigeria) and I was like, “cool , another volunteer opportunity”. Even though I had never used Django before, I had gone past the stage of being scared of Programming Terms and besides I had done a little project with Flask before so I felt it wouldn’t be so hard. I went through the tutorial and luckily enough, there was going to be a coaches’ meetup before the Installation Party so I thought I would get the chance to discuss my challenges. On getting there, I realized that I was like the only new face there. Apparently, a couple of them had been involved in Django Girls before. When the introduction started and I started hearing statements like, “This is my fourth Django girls”, “This is my eight Django girls” etc. I began to fret but I told my self, “well, it’s better to be in the midst of the experienced’.
The fact that this particular Django Girls Lagos was particularly for IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) didn’t sink in on me until the Head Coach mentioned that there was a particular coach, Jenifer that speaks Hausa Language fluently and that she came all the way from Nasarawa State (Northern Nigeria) in case we encounter issues communicating with the girls. I was like, “Ahh, is this how it’s going to be? So the girls don’t understand English! How do I begin communicate? What if Jenifer is too busy with other Coaches? Will I be able to go far with the curriculum? What if my mentees are not interested because I can’t communicate or because it’s looking too hard for them?” I had so many questions. I braced up, after all I was not going to be alone, these friendly coaches would not leave me hanging.
Django Girls Day 1 came (Installation party) I was introduced to my mentees, Esther and Rhoda. “Wow, they spoke and understood English well”, first proposed challenge eliminated. I introduced myself and got them relaxed by asking personal questions. Apparently, they relocated from Bornu State about two years ago because of the fights there. Their village, Chibok was left completely empty. They had not started Schooling in Lagos, I encouraged them to go back to School, briefed them on the importance of Computer Science, why they were learning Python, parts of a computer and all that I felt they should know. Then we took off installing. I made sure they did it themselves and I must say I was really impressed. It looked like I got the smartest girls in the hall. Rhoda was quite faster than Esther, she was the younger one though, so she was full of energy and zeal. As for me, the only issue I had was OS related, installing Virtual Environment on their systems and slight internet issue when installing Django. I got help from fellow Coaches. Alas, we completed our challenge for the day! The girls were so excited operating the Computer that they did not want to go home, little did they know that they were going home with the laptops the next day.
Django Girls Day 2: I was assigned to two other girls the next day. Esther and Rhoda were doing fine with their new Coach. I introduced myself to Sophia and Moyin. Sophia was a kid from Bridge Academy while Moyin was a Secondary School student who stumbled on the Application for Django Girls and decided to give it a try. Moyin was already learning Web Development on her own. She was familiar with HTML and CSS she just needed guidance. Sophia on the other hand was just an excited kid that was eager to learn, she had been taught about computers in School and she couldn’t wait to code. I had to go over the installation again with them because they were absent during the Installation Party. For me, I was quite fast guiding them to install, there were no unfamiliar issues for me. After that, it was more of work , eat, work, eat till the end of the day. I explained each section, gave them coding exercises and continued till the day was over. Even though we did not complete the tutorial, I was happy that I had instilled the interest to learn in them and they were willing to continue, it was just left for us to follow up with them and mentor them. Sophia was excited about her new laptop and Moyin was willing to get herself ready for personal study.
I must say I enjoyed every bit of the training and I had lots of fun. A big thumbs up to the Abocoders, Django Girls Lagos Team , PythonNigeria , all the sponsors and all the Coaches , they did a wonderful job. I am looking forward to the next Django Girls and I hope to be a better Coach.