This we have been highlighting members from Nigeria, the YALI Network #CountryoftheWeek!
With the largest concentration of YALI Network members, it was a challenge to choose from the many inspiring stories we received from outstanding Nigerian leaders. The three Network members profiled here were chosen because of the remarkable way they’ve used what the Network has taught them to tackle gender-based discrimination, help underprivileged youth get jobs, teach others to become better leaders, and more. Their efforts are representative of the great work done by Nigeria’s YALI Network!
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Oluwafisayo Ajisola, of Ogba, joined the YALI Network in December 2015, but she’s been making a difference in her community for years.
The Jewel Empowerment Foundation, which Oluwafisayo founded in 2011, has had a positive impact on the lives of over two thousand young people by “visiting and celebrating children at juvenile homes and orphanages” and “caring for kids on the street.” It provides food, back-to-school materials, toiletries, and other basic needs that “build the self-esteem of underprivileged children,” she says.
The Foundation also organizes annual Youth Empowerment Seminars, Oluwafisayo says, with “amazing themes that cut across leadership, self-discovery, successful habits, entrepreneurship and many more… We’ve had great speakers across the globe.”
In her year as a YALI Network member, Oluwafisayo says, “I can boldly say I have gained a lot from the online courses and the face2face YALI group on Facebook.” For her, the courses are about more than just passing a quiz and getting a certificate. “It’s about learning something different that would yield significant results in my everyday activities,” she says. “The courses practically trigger something inside of me; I just tell myself: ‘This is for me and I have to act.’”
And that’s exactly what she’s doing. In May, she helped organize an #Africa4Her event on “Understanding the Rights of Women and Girls.” Oluwafisayo says, “I was recognized as a champion for fulfilling my pledge and facilitating the event.”
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Samuel Adewumi, from Egan, is the founder of Gwise Global Community, a nonprofit dedicated to campaigning against gender-based “abuses, discrimination, violence, and inequalities.” His organization advocates for women and girls in rural communities through training, empowerment, and “fostering global certifications in entrepreneurship and leadership,” with a focus on birth attendants, health workers, and teachers.
Samuel’s work has had an impact on hundreds. Of his organization’s training, which began with a #YALILearns course, he says, “most of our trainee women leaders (over 300) have gone ahead to read and take online courses at their own pace to foster their leadership and entrepreneurship roles.” Many of them have begun training the women they work with on sexual abuse and women’s empowerment, and the program has expanded to three outreach centers. Each center provides delivery kits for pregnant women and offers reporting stations “to train, document, report, and curb all forms of female discrimination, abuses, and violence.”
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Faced with “rising social problems, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and youth restiveness” in his community, Benson Benn Udoh, from Uyo, “was inspired by YALI to form a group in 2015 called Youth Education, Entrepreneurship, and Empowerment Initiative (YEEES).”
Benson describes YEEES as a free program that “empowers youths to live productive lives, by providing them with education incentives, vocational skills training and acquisition, counseling services and small businesses support in rural communities and slums.” It enables them “to be easily absorbed into available local labour markets or support startups.”
“YEEES operates in a simple way,” he says. “We arrange for someone to receive training on a particular vocation. When the apprentice successfully acquires the skills or masters the vocation, he or she trains someone else, [for] free, thus increasing the second person’s chances of employability.”
“Borrowing heavily from YALI’s vision and online resources,” Benson says, “we have made significant progress in terms of providing positive change and human development in our communities.” Indeed, YEEES has grown from 11 to 72 members in 18 months, including new branches in six other communities in the state.
“From inception to date,” Benson says, “YEEES has helped train eight youths as professional drivers, three girls as hairdressers, four heavy machinery operators, and four seamstresses, as well as helped open and support small businesses for six youths.” Another 18 are currently undergoing training “to equip them with bread-winning tools for a self-sustaining future.”