Tag

Advocacy

Browsing

Repressed emotions refer to emotions that you unconsciously avoid. These differ from suppressed emotions, which are feelings you purposely avoid because you don’t know exactly how to deal with them.

When you realize that you are repressing your emotions, you have to take drastic measures to stop it for your emotional and physical health.

I have struggled with this for many years,  and it  got intense when life happened.

I look back at some of the challenges I dealt with silently this year, and wonder how I survived.

I was in between repressing and suppressing my emotions just to stay grounded.

I battled with arm injury for many months, was on strong medications, yet I put on a brave front.

At some point, I couldn’t sleep for  months as my pain kept me awake. I’d binge series on Netflix or  pace my apartment, just to get my mind off the pain. Sometimes I practice “Mindfulness” through meditation.

I was struggling with balancing my duty as a parent, working,  home schooling my daughters, and staying on top of things. I’d speak with folks and act “normal” even while I was breaking apart, drained and numb.

I have lived the past 11 months with repressed and suppressed emotions. Perhaps all of my almost 4 decades on mother earth.

I was encouraging people to stay positive, and telling them to keep faith, and keep pushing, yet I as dealing with my own physical pain that almost made me relapsed into depression, maybe I did and wish not to call it that.

I couldn’t lift the affected arm to say “Halleluyah” . Just giving a visual representation of how bad it was lol.

I was sleeping on one side for  months, couldn’t sleep on my back either, as my shoulder blade and back were badly affected.

Esther Ijewere – At the beach In June 2021 for “mindfullness” while battling with arm Injury

While dealing with my physical pain, I had other matters that threw me off balance; from breech of privacy,  Gmail account hacked, laptop bugged,  trespassing, and  attempted theft. Just to mention few…

I almost lost my mind, but for God, my commitment to his word and prayer, plus Therapy.

Through my pain I found a stronger purpose in Christ. I started praying better and objectively without season.

I even turned my prayer to conversations, like God was sitting right in front of me.

I can’t also downplay the role Physio-Therapy played in my healing journey.  Grateful to my Physio-Therapist (s). Two amazing humans who focused on my healing, and made sure I didn’t downplay the level of pain I was In. I guess they saw through my “Repressed emotions” approach. *Laughs*.

However, I had to also address my repressed emotions through therapy, on the count of separating spirituality from reality. I committed more time to Therapy.

I became  intentional with Therapy,  digging deep into my repressed emotions, and sharing some of my painful experiences with my Therapist (s).

What emotions are you repressing or afraid to confront?

How do those emotions affect your life ?

What measures are you taking to address those emotions?

What kind of emotions are you trying to repress? Anger, frustration, sadness, fear or disappointment?

Perhaps you grew up hearing things like:

  • “You don’t have any reason to be sad.”
  • “Calm down.”
  • “You should be grateful.”

Childhood trauma is one of the major causes of repressed emotions, and could lead to chronic illness if not addressed.

It’s not always easy to recognize when you’re dealing with emotional repression, and there’s no definitive test you can take.

If you do have repressed emotions, however, you might notice a few key signs. These signs might show up in your feelings or your behavior — both toward yourself and other people.

People with repressed emotions often have trouble naming and understanding their emotional experience; I do. This can make it tough to describe how you feel to others, but it also makes it difficult for you to recognize when certain aspects of your life aren’t serving your needs.

You might:

  • regularly feel numb or blank
  • feel nervous, low, or stressed a lot of the time, even if you aren’t sure why
  • have a tendency to forget things
  • experience unease or discomfort when other people tell you about their feelings
  • feel cheerful and calm most of the time because you never let your thoughts linger on anything significant or upsetting
  • feel distressed or irritated when someone asks you about your feelings

Emotional repression can affect your ability to:

  • talk about things that matter to you
  • build intimate relationships
  • understand how other people feel
  • encourage of praise yourself

You might also notice that you:

  • go along with situations instead of expressing what you really want and need – I’m guilty of this one.
  • use  TV, social media, or other activities to help you numb and avoid feelings you don’t want to explore
  • spend most of your time with other people to avoid being alone
  • exhibit passive-aggressive behaviors to deal with situations that upset you

If you have trouble expressing or regulating your emotions, talking to a mental health professional is a good first step. A therapist can help you explore potential causes of repressed emotions and offer guidance and support as you begin to address these reasons.

Therapy also provides a safe space to:

  • work on naming and understanding your feelings
  • increase your comfort level around talking about emotions
  • learn more helpful methods of emotional regulation

What worked for me?

  • Using “I” statements. Expressing my feelings with phrases like; “I feel confused. I feel nervous. I feel terrified.”
  • Focus on the positive. I do this through therapy and positive affirmations, using the “I statements”. I often say things like; “I am healed”, “I am whole”, “I am resilient”, “I am a magnet for light and love”, “I am winning at life”, “I am highly favoured by the divine”, “I am at peace”, “I have will-power”, “I am fine”….You can choose what resonates with your situation or midframe.
  • Let go of judgement. No matter what emotion I am feeling , I am learning to avoid  judging  myself I   shouldn’t feel a certain way. Instead, I try finding a reason for the feeling: “I feel nervous because I just read something that triggered me”. “I am afraid because I don’t feel safe”. etc
  • Make it a habit.  I name  and share my emotions with the people I feel closest to, and encourage them to share their feelings, too. That way I create balance.

Above all, I take therapy seriously.

I am still on a journey of healing, and releasing baggages and things that no longer serve me.

I hope you find comfort in my article and confront your repressed emotions before the end of the year.

You can also read my article on Understanding the Impact of Trauma Here  

Sending love, light and peace to anyone on this journey of releasing repressed emotions.

You are not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At least since I became a single parent.

There are unique women who wear different hats in different industries, they use their passion and skillset as tools for development and change. Adebimpe is one of those women, she is a  Creative designer (Graphics and UI/UX designs) Sexual and reproductive health coach, Girl child advocate and a freelance photographer.  Being a victim of child molestation she founded Piece of my heart Foundation where she leads a team of volunteers in educating sensitizing children and teenagers on sex education to prevent abuse.
 She is a Skillz girl coach at Youth empowerment and development initiative where she educate adolescent girls about their sexual and reproductive health.  Global youth ambassador at Their World, Lagos state Youth Ambassador and Girl impact Ambassador.
Adebimpe is a graduate of Yaba college of technology, Lagos. She is a trained child advocate by Christiana Faith foundation and Laura kid’s foundation U.S.A. An alumna of Lagos Business school (Leadership and Non profit Manangement). She is interested in meaningful youth participation and engagement and gender related issues.
She shares her inspiring story with Esther Ijewere in this exclusive interview.

Childhood Infuence

My childhood is what influenced my decision to educate people about sexual and reproductive health issues and gender based violence prevention.

Growing up, my parent died when I was just 7, having to move from one relative to the other. I was molested by my uncle. He will make me play with their genitals until he gets satisfied. This went on for months and nobody suspected , thankfully. I moved away from their house and I got adopted my mum’s immediate sister who happens to take care of me like her own.

At the age of 13, we lived in a tenement building know as (face me I face you ) Two of my neighbors got pregnant for a guy who was also our neighbor. I watched this two girls dropped out of school and became mothers as a child. It was really traumatic for me.

After this Incident I started getting flashes of my own abuse and suddenly I started attracting people who attempted rape from close people, it didn’t happen but the fear stayed with me.

This fueled my passion and I felt it people were aware and orientated, that abusers are trusted people. So that parent can also educate their children to make informed sexual and relationship decisions without violence or abuse.

Inspiration behind Piece of my heart foundation

I knew I had an assignment but I really didn’t know what it was, I pray to God about it. Soon, I started getting flashes of what happened to me as a Child and how God wanted me to turn my pain to purpose. I felt led to start piece of my heart foundation though I wasn’t sure what NGO was and how it was run at that time. I just wanted to make a difference in my community and I started the organization.

The Journey so  far

The journey has been awesome and challenging at the same time. The journey has helped me to discover alot about myself, it has helped me to learn skills I never thought I could learn or know. The journey has brought me profitable relationships and realistic exposures. So many times i feel like giving up on the journey because of the so many rejections I get. I have grown a thick skin and rejection got nothing on me, maybe a little thing….

I have made alot of mistake running the organization but I learn from my mistakes. I’m grateful to God I started.

Being a creative designer, and using it to amplify my passion for advocacy 

As a creative designer, my skill has helped my work alot, It had helped amplify my work, because most times I use the funds I get from my work to run the organization.

Sometimes I use my skill to preserve relationships. I volunteer to do designs for many people to help them amplify their works too. I’m a strongly believe that supporting other people is a great way to keep relationships.

Nigerians and their understanding of sexual and reproductive health

I think a large percentage of Nigerians are not well informed on issues affecting women and the girl child because most people tend to silence women in advocacy.

Every day women and girls are still faced with lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services, domestic violence, unequal pay for equal work,lack of quality education and so many other issue.

If I had an audience with the President to discuss work

Mr. President sir, In about two years of being at the frontline, working closely with Stakeholders in rural to communities to advocate for women and girl reaching close to over 10,000 person online and offline. I believe that not enough work is being done to protect the right of women and girls in our society. I’ll like the Government to consider partnering with CSOs and NGOs to reach the grassroots. I’ll like the president to amplify our voices by giving women equal representation in Government, empowering women and girls to avoid violence, implement laws that criminalize GBV. We have this laws. Why aren’t they being implemented. We will like the president to fund organizations working on prevention intervention and restructure our crisis management system, the system is too cumbersome.

Mr. President sir, comprehensive sex education should be part of the curriculum starting from primary school in other to help our children make informed decisions.

Challenges of my work

Challenges of my work, one of the personal challenge is trying to balance my career ( product design) with my NGo work, thank God for amazing team members. Many people don’t want to fund prevention intervention and our own believe is that prevention is better than rehabilitation. We are also faced with the challenge of a space for training. One of our aim is to raise alot of advocates. Who can represent us in their communities

  3 women who inspire you to be better and why

  1. Mrs Ibukun Awosika, I love the fact that she is a woman breaking boundaries. She inspires me with her love for God and humanity.
  2. Anthonia Ojenagbon, she is a survivor of sexual abuse and she is giving other people a chance to be heard. She inspires me so much because of her resilience and her fight for SGBV.
  3. Esther Ijewere, a woman with an heart of Gold, she inspires me with her selflessness, humility and doggedness.

Key nuggets on child safety & sexual reproductive health

Child safety is everybody’s responsibility especially the parent. As parents, you can not always be everywhere with your children but when you give them comprehensive sex education, you can be sure that they will make informed choices.

Sex education shouldn’t  start when your child starts menstruating, it has to start right from the time your child starts speaking both the boys and the girls.

Many people mistake sex education for teaching about sex. Sexual and reproductive health education isn’t just how not to get pregnant. It’s about body safety, self esteem, puberty, gender roles, contraceptives use etc..

Education about sex, is not a one-off conversation. It has to be consistent  and age appropriate. Use Google to learn what it age appropriate for your child and filter it with your family value.

 Being  a Woman of Rubies

I’m a woman of rubies because I am a woman favored and chosen to turn my pain into power. I never allowed my background to put my back on the ground. I’m proud of the woman I have become 😁.

Popularly referred to as Dr. Kel, Dr Kelechi is a resourceful Medical Doctor who possesses excellent clinical skills as well as good relational ability that has won the trust and endearment of her patients and the general public, both offline and online. A public health enthusiast, health communicator, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Advocate and content creator.

Dr. Kelechi is the convener of the “Healthertainer” brand which promotes total health and wellness across all social media platforms. The brand is renowned for stirring up trending conversations with regards to important and prevalent health issues and proffering solutions to the dire health challenges faced in Nigeria. She is also the founder of HEAL for Africa & Pay attention to her, two initiatives aimed at promoting health education and female hygiene. She is committed to promoting health literacy globally with verifiable successes in effective health communications and generating active participation and engagement among people. Kelechi currently works as a physician in the Kogi State Government House Clinic, Lokoja while she runs her platforms. The foremost health activist shares her inspiring story with me in this educative interview.

Childhood Influence

Yes, my childhood prepared me for what I do now. I grew up in an environment filled with love and excitement. I am the 10th child of my father and 3rd from my own mum. We didn’t lack anything growing up. (I am from a united and peaceful polygamous home. We were fondly called “The Okoro House of Commotion” because of our family escapades. LOL. such sweet memories). I had all the emotional, moral, spiritual and financial support any child needed, however, as I began to get older and see life from my own eyes, I realized that there was more to life. Interacting with other children from less privileged homes made me realized how lucky I was and also taught me to be sympathetic toward other people’s plight. Subconsciously, I grew up with a resolve to show affection to everyone around me, especially those who couldn’t afford the luxury.  Another period that prepared me for what I do today was going from a period of plenty to nothing. This was during my university days. Every family has their financial ups and downs and when we faced ours, I had a personal experience of what it meant to have nothing and my resolve to attain the capacity to always help the less privileged grew even stronger. It was during those trying times that my entrepreneurial spirit was awoken. I learned how to earn money not only for myself but to cater to the needs of others. Let’s just say, I have always taken it as a point of duty and privilege to be a source of hope, help, and inspiration to others.

Inspiration behind “Healthertainer” & “Heal for Africa”

The word “Healthertainer” was originally coined by me from two words I love and can totally relate with: Health and entertainment, representing my profession and my personality.  The brand was born out of my desire to make health palatable and relatable for the layman to understand. While in medical school, I noticed a communication barrier between doctors and patients which resulted in poor patient outcomes. Patients did not understand their conditions or the role they needed to play in ensuring better outcomes while managing their conditions. Also, I realized that many Nigerians are suffering and dying from preventable illnesses and complications of diseases which could have been prevented or even better managed if detected early. This was largely due to a lack of proper health information. I decided that when I became a doctor, I would simplify health information delivery and improve healthcare in Nigeria using the preventive approach. I am currently into clinical practice but spend a lot of my time using innovation and entertainment to drive health advocacy both offline and online. I use my social media platforms to promote health in an entertaining manner without losing the core message and more Nigerians are becoming more interested in learning about their health. My brand is barely 2 years old and it has grown a community of over 100,000 followers across all platforms. In less than 2 years, my brand has become the ‘go to’ when it comes to social media health advocacy. I can proudly say that the Healthertainer brand has blazed the trail for health influencers in Nigeria.  I  have inspired and mentored more medics to use social media to promote health and wellness.

Of over 180 million people in Nigeria, Only about 98.3 million persons use the internet. This means that the remaining 81.7 million will not have access to all the information available online. This informed my decision to start a non-profit organization (Heal for Africa Initiative) that carries out health advocacy in the local communities. Heal for Africa initiative was born out of the desire to reach out to the underserved populace and more impact lives. Before I started my own initiative, I had volunteered for other NGOs as a resource person and sponsor. I also did a lot of personal charity, randomly helping people in need. In 2017, I decided it was time to start my own thing and build a structure that would outlive me and also provide a bigger platform to grow more leaders and touch more lives.  HEAL stands for Health, Education, and Advocacy for better Livelihood. This acronym embodies our core aims and objectives. We are committed to “healing’ Africa, one community at a time. (www.healforafrica.org)

Being an advocate and working in public health sector

I must say it is not easy at all having to combine my 9 – 5 job, the Healthertainer Brand and directing the organization’s projects, but somehow, the work gets done. Having a supportive boss who also happens to be a member of the board of trustees, has helped a great deal to make things easy. Having a reliable team we call the “Heal Tribe” as hands and legs of the organization also keep our projects running even when I am not available. All this is time-consuming, but striking a balance and managing time effectively helps. Although sometimes it gets overwhelming, we are, however, working hard to develop a structure that can be self-sustaining.

Impact of “Pay Attention to her” Initiative

“Pay Attention to Her (PATH) project focuses on Reproductive Health outreaches for adult women; menstrual hygiene management and sexual health outreaches for adolescents girls and females in their early adulthood and Sexual Health outreaches for adolescent boys and males in their early adulthood (Pay Attention To Him). On the 28th of May, 2018, we launched the PATH School Tour to empower girls in public schools and rural areas. During this exercise, they are enlightened on their role as nation builders in addition to sexual health education and menstrual hygiene management. All participants are given free sanitary pads and personal hygiene products ( Soap, liquid antiseptic, toothpaste, tissue paper, deodorant, etc). We also enroll them into a network we call the “Big Sister” network so that we can have a sustained communication with the girls.  So far, over 2,000 girls in 3 public schools have benefitted from this exercise.  The experience has been fulfilling. After each program, the immediate impact is palpable. The girls gain a new sense of belonging and self-confidence. You can visibly feel their excitement and gratitude as they finally find a safe place to seek more knowledge about the biological and emotional changes that come with puberty. The reassurance of a brighter future as they interact with our female guest speakers. Our programs have attracted the likes of the Secretary to the Kogi State Government, Mrs Folashade Ayoade, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mrs Petra Akinti Onyegbule,  Mrs. Bolanle Amupitan, Kogi Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Sanda Musa, Special Senior assistant to the governor on Women and Child Development, and other prominent and inspiring role models in the community.This year, we will be rolling out more initiatives to cater to the women, adolescent boys and young adults in line with our goals, vision, and mission.

Challenges

After our lectures, we gift the girls with disposable pads for just one or two menstrual cycles. That is not enough. How do we guarantee that they have sanitary materials for the next? We want to offer more sustainable options, but they come with challenges. The reusable cloth pads are more sustainable but the challenge that comes with this is the lack of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in public schools and rural areas.  Another option is the use of Menstrual Cups, the challenge here would be low acceptability due to cultural and religious beliefs.

Our society doesn’t see the need to talk about menstrual hygiene. It is perceived as a taboo or a filthy experience that should be spoken about only behind closed doors. As a result of this, a lot of young girls go through their initial experiences with so much confusing and guilt.  Another major challenge we face is funding for projects. 90 percent of funds used for projects are personal. The other 10 % comes from a close network of friends/ family and also from my online community. We have plans to improve fundraising efforts via sales of branded items, membership and sourcing for grants to help us make more impact this year.

Other Projects

Heal for Africa has another project called HEAL THE SLUMS project. People living in the slums are denied basic rights such as good food, healthcare, shelter and potable water which makes live unpleasant for them. This project is dedicated to this group of people to show them affection during festivity periods. The Heal The Slums project is also an avenue to interact with community leaders and other stakeholders to conduct a needs assessment around basic amenities and discussing means of meeting those needs. It is our way of reaching out to underserved communities to show affection and inspire hope. So far, 4 Communities in Kogi State have benefitted from this program. Outside the hospital and civic space, I do public speaking, compering corporate events and volunteering with other organizations to drive other SDGs.

Last year, I partnered with another brilliant Doctor, Chukwu Analo on the “Health Simplex’ brand. Health Simplex is our own little innovative contribution to the actualization of the Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 17:  for Good health and wellbeing and Partnership for the goals. The mission is very simple, Incorporate Information and communication technology and Health as to provide good health for all. This is a project to look out for this year.  (www.healthsimplex.com). So you see, I am a serial hustler. Lol.  I do a lot of “small small” businesses here and there to augment my salary as a doctor so I can keep funding my passion.

Reward

My greatest reward is the satisfaction and recommendations I get from doing what I do. I really didn’t know how impactful my work was until people started giving testimonies of how my life of impact has spurred them to start their own initiatives.  Also, putting smiles on the faces of our beneficiaries, inspiring hope and having so many young people look up to me has been a source of joy and motivation for me. In barely 2 years of my service to humanity, I have seen how much impact these little acts of kindness here and there can ignite in other people’s lives and I want to keep being a vessel of impact in my community.I am motivated by the results so far and I want to keep doing more. Another great motivation for me is the impact it has on my own life. I am becoming a better person and enjoying the fulfillment and peace of mind that comes with supporting others.

High rate of depression & why Government should intervene

I think depression seems to be on the rise because more people are beginning to admit that they suffer from it.  The problem has always been there, but poorly diagnosed.  Although there is still a high level of stigmatization associated with depression these days people are more open about it. Another reason is that people are allowing the pressure of the modern world to get to them. The high expectations from society and the quest for fame, luxury and money are also driving a lot of youth especially, to anxiety, depression and eventually suicide.  Depression is no respecter of socioeconomic status, Rich people get depressed too, but poverty and scanty livelihood have also been implicated as risk factors for depression. What the government can do is to improve the economy and also help spread awareness on mental health issues. Expert management of depression can be expensive so the government should support.

On giving up

Many times I have felt like giving up. Many times I have felt frustrated, underachieved and underappreciated for all the hard work I put in. But, in my lowest moments, testimonies from people I have helped indirectly or directly spur me back into action.

I remember when my first Instagram account was hacked at 28,000 followers, I was downcast. I didn’t know where to start. In fact, I decided to throw in the towel, but I couldn’t because people kept on calling to find out when I was coming back online, narrating how my page had helped them in one way or the other. I had no choice than to start all over. The funny thing is, when I started all over, that was when clients started requesting my service. I had paid my dues and it was time to reap what I had sown. I started earning a lot from my Healthertainer platforms, working with local and international health brands. It felt good to earn money while living my passion.

Who and What Inspire me to be better….

I am inspired by every strong woman out there who are excelling in their various spheres of life despite the odds against them. I am inspired by people like Oprah Winfrey, Taraji P Henson who kept believing in themselves and pursuing their dreams till they had their big breakthrough. I spent 11 years in medical school ( Studying medicine in Nigeria is a major struggle, story for another day, I promise) and graduated at the age of 28, I felt as if I had wasted so many years and I didn’t have much time to leave a meaningful life. I can proudly say that I have achieved so much between the age of 29 till date (I turned 32 on the 2nd of February, 2019). I haven’t gotten my big breakthrough, but I have activated the process that will get me there.I have a lot of young people who look up to me. Small me, and I am already a mentor to many, This inspires me to live a life worthy of emulation.  I don’t want to be anybody’s role model, I do not want to be put on a pedestal, I just want to groom more young people to aspire to do better than me and be a source of inspiration to the next generation.

One thing I wish I could change in the Health sector

I would like to talk to medical students and prepare them for life after medical school. All we learned in medical school was how to save other people’s lives but not how to survive in the real whole. We need more than medical knowledge to survive after medical school. The whole is changing. I want to educate medical students on the need to develop other aspects of their lives and also equip themselves with survival skills that are not in the school syllabus. Medicine in Nigeria is no longer a “rag to riches” story, gone are the days when you graduate from medical school, save house job money and buy a “Camry I don buy my own”. After the internship, the real struggle continues. In a country like Nigeria where doctors pay is not commensurate to the service rendered, extra skills are important for survival. I have been able to survive the system so far because of my entrepreneurial and social media skills.

Being a  Woman of Rubies 

I guess I have earned the “woman of rubies” title because a lot of people recommended me on your platform (Smiles). Seriously, I am honored and humbled to be recognized as a woman of substance. A woman who should be celebrated for her contributions towards making the world a better place. Women of Rubies are women whose stories are inspiring hope and transformation across the globe. Women who have managed to maintain a sane work-life balance as they voyage the path of self-discovery and actualization. Women who are supporting and encouraging other women by sharing their hope-inspiring stories and practical tools to achieve their dreams. I believe that my life and activities in the last few years have depicted these values. Ruby is a precious gemstone that epitomizes passion, confidence, courage, determination, adventure, and vitality.  The ruby stone is also known for its durability, hardness, and luster.  I can proudly say I am a woman of Rubies because I share these same attributes with the Ruby stone.

Appreciation of Female doctors In Nigeria

Doctors are not appreciated generally in Nigeria, both male and female. I don’t think there is any marginalization of the female doctors in particular.

Health Nuggets

“Women need to make their health a priority. An unhealthy  woman cannot run her home effectively”

“Regular health checks can save your life.”

“Screen and get vaccinated against  the Human papillomaVirus (HPV) vaccine  that causes Cervical Cancer.”

“Adopt a healthy lifestyle and dietary habits that reduce your risks of developing other cancers.“

“ Learn how to do the self-breast examination and always check your breasts for changes that may be symptoms of breast cancer. Early detection is key.’

“MOVE! A sedentary lifestyle predisposes you to obesity and heart diseases. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day five times a week. Don’t wait till you enroll in a gym. If you can’t brisk-Walk, skip, cycle, run or jog around your neighborhood, JUST DANCE IN YOUR LIVING ROOM.”

Tolulope Babajide, the Lead strategist of Ink & Ideas Consulting is a passionate and creative Communications specialist. A 2006 graduate of English and Literary Studies, Tolulope started her career in Advertising as a copywriter and swiftly moved into core journalism at the defunct 234Next as a copy editor, Arts and Culture reporter and a columnist.

Since then she has worked in the Non profit sector as a Communications and Programmes strategist and also consulted with organizations on grants writing, rapporteuring, social enterprise strategy. She is highly committed to using communication in changing human narratives and excited in helping organizations get their writings done more creatively

“Growing up in family where intellectual conversations are held around the dining table helped me to be in constant search for knowledge/”, Tolu says as she shares her story with me in this interview.

Early life
I grew up in Ilesa, Osun State and as a young girl, all I was surrounded with was books and thought-provoking conversations. My dad had this huge library (at least to my eight-year-old mind) and he compelled us to read as many books as we could. He encouraged us to read across all genres, so one minute am reading medical textbooks, the next minute am buried in Wole Soyinka’s books. This has particularly helped me in having a rich imagination which has in turn strengthened my writing skills. My parents made it their priority to consciously train children whose minds are not controlled by their environment and backgrounds. Through the books I read, I went and experienced so many cultures even when I haven’t been there physically.

Meet Me!
My name is Tolulope Babajide. I am a graduate of English and Literary Studies. I am a Communication specialist with the belief that any narrative can be changed with the right approach of communication. I started my career as a copywriter, then as a journalist at the defunct 234Next newspaper and moved into Development Communications (Nonprofits).
I love learning new things, this is what drew me to online learning. I don’t miss out on any opportunity to stimulate my brain. I am an unrepentant optimist and a firm believer that our dreams are worth fighting for unless they remain just dreams.

Inspiration behind my initiative Ink & Ideas Consulting
The inspiration behind Ink & Ideas Consulting is the need to do more and be more, a bespoke content creation agency with services including speech writing, grant writing, rapporteuring and social enterprise strategy. It has always been my side hustle, from helping people to write compelling grant applications to crafting human centered and creative speeches to offering my scribing services to organizations and strategizing with social enterprises. I finally got to the point that I wasn’t comfortable again having it as just a side gig. I believe that there are millions of grants for nonprofits and startups in Nigeria, all they need is a passionate grant writing agency who will go all in. There is also an urgent need for creativity to be infused into speeches; most of the speeches I hear today lacks the passion and not memorable at all.
Rapporteuring/report writing also has become one service that is undervalued in Nigeria. There is a need for every organization to have an objective, accurate record of their retreats and business meetings.

Impact of working in the print media and advertising sector for a while
I am particularly grateful that I started my career in Advertising as a copywriter. It gave expression to my creativity and helped me to receptive to endless possibilities in life. On a lighter note, it helped me discover my very playful side.  In the print media, I learnt a lot from the industry’s best, the likes of Molara Wood, Kadaria Ahmed, Dele Olojede, Victor Ehikhamelor etc. My time at 234Next newspaper is still one of my most exciting experiences in life; there I learnt that the world is not just black and white. That I can question status-quos and not be put in a box of conformity.

Helping organisations in the non-profit sector write grant proposals
It was my move to Abuja that exposed me to the Nonprofits industry. There I learnt that living for oneself is selfish and smallminded, there are tons of great causes to advocate for. Having worked on projects including Female Genital Mutilation, Immunization, Adolescents Access to Family Planning Services, Maternal and Newborn Health, I discovered that I enjoyed helping these causes to raise funds through grant writing. There are many great nonprofits who really need a funder so that they can scale up their activities.
There was this Cancer Outreach nonprofit that I worked with on grant writing. They go into very rural areas to screen women for breast and cervical cancers; we can all attest that it is not cheap to get test kits for the screening. Nonprofits like this need donors’ money to be able to continue with their good work.

Challenges
I just moved from Abuja to Lagos. I guess that that is a challenge in terms of building networks and making them see reasons why they need my services. But the prospect of meeting new people, businesses is exciting and am all in for the ride.

What next?
I am presently working on projects that advocate for Adolescents to have a safe, no-judgement access to Sexual Reproductive services in Nigeria. I am also passionate in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation, I believe that no female should be cut. I am blessed to have this bubbling energy that enables me to collaborate with people on projects that are dear to my heart. It is an ongoing journey and am excited about it.

Reward
Getting into the Cherie Blair Foundation Fellowship for Women in Business is one reward that I am so grateful for. I just became a Mentee in the Foundation’s Mentoring Women in Business and it runs for a year. Being peered with my International mentor will redefine my game and belonging to this awesome community will strengthen my networking and business skills.

My view on the advocacy and development sector in Nigeria and access to funding
The advocacy and development sector are doing a lot and they should be commended. I cannot imagine a Nigeria without the tireless input of this sector. Nationwide Immunization success will not have been possible without organizations like Gates Foundation, GAVI, John Hopkins etc.
Still on the immunization angle, I believe that there is an inadequate funding. There are new vaccines that are unaffordable for the common man; vaccines like Rotavirus, Chicken Pox, Typhoid, Meningitis etc. It will be great if these vaccines can be subsidized, there shouldn’t be anything like ‘Special Vaccines’. All vaccines are important.

Women in advocacy not celebrated
They are appreciated majorly in the terms of salary and emoluments but not celebrated.

My Inspiration…
My kids inspire me to be more in life. That might sound so cliché, but it is so true. They are my greatest motivation.  Also, the need to touch everyone I meet positively. People need to know they are needed, respected and their opinions are valid even if it disagrees with mine.

Being a woman of Rubies
My refusal to be broken by life’s pitfalls. It doesn’t matter how many times I fall, I keep on standing up. I don’t have the luxury of giving excuses.  I am also not shy in blowing the horn of another woman. Rising together as women is the sweetest. What is the essence of living in a castle if you are going to be there alone.

Advice for young women who want to go into the communication sector
Read, Read and Read. It stretches your mind and gives you insights into a variety of subjects. Don’t be that woman that knows only one thing, be all compassing. This will help in dealing with different clients from different sectors.  Be flexible, learn how to be a people’s person.

 

Says:”I have spent 8 years of my life working to make a difference in the lives of women and youths”

AYECI Africa is a non-profit organization on a mission to improve the prospects and living conditions of the most disadvantaged population in Africa, through a variety of interventions that expands access to education and employment opportunities. The founder, Ifeoma Adibe, didn’t set out to become all these. She loathed the idea of becoming a Polytechnic student because of the discrimination that exists between universities and polytechnics.She channeled her frustration into establishing ASPIRE , a student empowerment initiative. In this chat she talks about being tempted to give up, her eureka moment why she created AYECI and other issues.

Early childhood dream

Growing up as a young girl I recall nursing the ambition to one day becomes a beauty queen. I’ve always been fascinated by the world of beauty pageants, not solely because of the pageantry and glamour but I was drawn and inspired by the way beauty queens used their platform to address social issues and help those in need. Year after Year I remember keeping a journal of the reign several beauty queens and a portfolio of the social projects they were involved in. As a teenager, this experience helped me develop a strong sense of devotion for charitable work and fostered my interest to be part of the process of bringing hope and improving the quality of lives for those in need.

Today, I am a social entrepreneur, an advocate for women and child’s right . I may not be your regular beauty queen but I’m living out the ambition I nursed to help people in need become better.

Discovering my passion for charity

I developed a strong sense of passion for charitable work as far back as when I was 14years old. However, my work in advocacy and development didn’t start till I was about 18years as a freshman in Lagos State Polytechnic. At that point, heaven knows I would have given anything to not be part of that school system, I detested the school environment, didn’t want to associate with the students in it. Most heartbreaking was when I discovered that majority of the students who graduated from the Polytechnic were not given equal opportunities in the workplace no matter how good they were academically. They were usually treated as second rate graduates compared to students from the universities. I just wanted to be in Unilag, Uniport or University of Abuja.

My eureka moment

During my second semester as a freshman, I recall attending a personal development summit. After that session I told myself it would do me no good to continue hating on the polytechnic school system, I alone had the power to change my mindset and make something positive out of my situation.

This singular decision propelled me to start a student initiative on campus in 2006 called ASPIRE- African Students Partnership and Relevance. With a vision to help change the way undeserved students viewed themselves and also empower and engage them to take on the responsibility of driving social interventions in their school community. In less than 4years with the help of other team members, we grew the initiative to four campuses with over 400 student members. Managing the activities of ASPIRE and its growing student network was my first major role in youth development and advocacy. The effect this singular decision and corresponding actions had on students, led me to discover my passion for advocating for the rights of underserved young people and women.

Strong women inspire me

I don’t just have one person who has the greatest impact on me, except for Jesus Christ. His leadership quality, humanitarian attribute, teaching skill, the way he served the people who followed him, the way he loved and selflessly gave. Everything about his life and time on earth greatly impacts and continues to inspire me. Asides from him, stories of women in the bible like Queen Esther, Hannah; Deborah also has a great impact on me. Coming back home I’ve been greatly inspired by the works of several strong African women like: Liberian, Sara Kaba Jones of Face Africa, Kenyan; Dr Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg of Akili Dada, Nigerian Toyosi Akerele-Oginsiji of RISE, Nigerian; Toyin Saraki of Wellbeing Foundation, Nigerian; Esther Ijewere-Kalejaiye of Rubies Ink.

Inspiration behind the creation of AYECI

The inspiration behind the creation of AYECI Africa is to respond to the cry of the undeserved woman and young person seeking for opportunities to better their lives. We work to create an environment where every young person and woman without recourse to status gets access to the learning opportunities they need to realize their full potential. As an organization, we believe improved access to information, learning opportunities and meaningful engagement empowers people to fight poverty, inequality and contributes to the future success of their communities

Projects

As an organization we’ve worked with several organizations to implement so many incredible projects. Our first funded projects: THE EDUCATE-A-COMMUNITY PROGRAM is a community based learning project that provides basic and functional literacy training and livelihood grants for educationally disadvantaged women and out-of-school youths. The program currently operates three learning centers in (Ikorodu, Isolo and Ijede) that serve over 220 learners. In 2015, we graduated 37 learners who completed 9months of literacy classes from our Ikorodu

learning center.In September 2014, we launched the #1MillionGiftofLiteracy Campaign a 5-year long campaign with the aim to increase the reading habits and literacy skills of 1,000,000 women and children across West Africa. We are currently leveraging the support of corporate organizations through an annual football charity activation (Play for Literacy) to help us meet our fundraising goals for the campaign. We’ve also succeeded in engaging celebrity advocates like Lami Phillips, Olori Supergal, JJC, to support our literacy campaign.

As part of our career development platform, we also organize an annual workplace mentorship program in collaboration with SAP to match fresh school leavers with corporate organizations for a 3weeks workplace mentorship that would help them make informed.

“I felt like giving up”

Yes, several times I have felt like giving up. When you work in a sector like mine, you always have to source for funding and defend every kobo spent. Often times it takes a lot to get the right kind of personnel to work with and resources to keep operation going. There are always setbacks that would make you want to throw in the towel. However, the fulfillment I get from empowering people and having to witness the t effect of the time and effort invested in their lives, their families and communities is a motivation that keeps me going. I like the thought of waking up and going into the world to do some good! One good deed everyday

Greatest reward

People’s measurement of achievement and reward differs. For me, I consider the number of lives as one of my greatest rewards. These rewards are ongoing and I’m excited to see how my work will continue to transform the lives of people in need.

Advice for budding social entrepreneurs

 

When Bukky Shonibare, the Group CEO for the 555 Group, heard that the Chibok girls have been abducted, she could have decided to move on with her life and mind her own business; instead she decided to be part of those championing “Bring Back Our Girls Campaign”. It’s been emotionally and psychologically zapping for her, but instead of just ranting, she has dedicated every day since the abduction of these girls to advocating, writing articles, tweeting about the abducted girls, patiently waiting for their return. What makes this amazon remarkable is the fact that she has dedicated her time, money and resources to lend a voice to the plight of the victims of terrorism.

The Genesis

I was scrolling through my timeline on social media when I saw that girls had been abducted in North East, Nigeria. I didn’t know a place called ‘Chibok’ existed until the news started unfolding. For Bukky, the task of bringing back our girls is non negotiable and has to be done no matter the cost.

Identifying with the Chibok Girls

The first march of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, held on April 30th 2014, was one that gathered all agitators on this issue, of which I was one. We marched in the rain to the National Assembly to table our grievances. For me, joining the march on that day was my way of identifying with every girl that was abducted in and outside Chibok. I am a mother – what could the mothers be possibly going through? Fathers can be close to their daughters – what could these men be going through? Besides, I can relate with abuse and molestation, and how it can possibly turn one’s life around. So, the knowledge that they are with heartless miscreants with capacity to perpetrate just any inhumane act, including sexual exploitation and senseless killings, made my resilience stronger. I just want the relevant authorities to keep prioritizing the issue so as to ensure prompt action and result. Bottom line, that sheer sense of empathy that made me go out the first time still fuels me, and other campaigners, till date.”

Giving up on the cause? Never!

While my optimism was somewhat legitimately threatened in view of a protracted period of silence and inaction, giving up has never, and will never be, an option. I believe in the power of consistency. The same motive for continuing the day after the march (May 1, 2014), is the same that has kept me coming out; after all, it’s yet another day. Or how’s that day different from now if truly the motive is to have our girls back? Undeniably, hope has been severally dashed, with numerous failed expectations, but for me – and other campaigners, who know that for us to record a closure that is not only logical, but also worthy of a writable history, we must push and drive ourselves until a sensible outcome is reached. The numerous botched phantom ceasefire agreements, the ‘we-know-where-the-girls-are’ hype without actual rescue, the dashed hope that ensues after excitedly hearing or reading that another western government has pledged support, etc, are all sufficient reasons to think it is not worth it; but when I consider what is at stake if I give up; I realize that I would rather stay on the path of continuity and doggedness.

500 days without the Chibok girls

The sad reality that we hit 500 days without the girls returning was a very harsh one. I recall when we commemorated 30 days of abduction and then 100 days. That reality is rude! It slaps the very essence of humanity. How did we get to the point where young, innocent, and naïve girls – who have become a symbol of Nigeria’s systemic and institutional failure, would be abducted for months! I mean, it’s so sad. And now, we have had to experience those 100 days for 5 times. How long do we still have to wait? How much can a heart take?

Some Nigerians believe abduction never took place

The inability of several Nigerians to be empathetic in such a critical matter that bothers on our shared humanity is one that still beats me. To excuse or validate that sense of dismissiveness, several Nigerians have tried to interpret and box this abduction into a narrative that fits their stance. Unfortunately, that one thinks in such manner, and finds one or two more to think same, does not necessarily make that skewed narrative the truth. Till date, several Nigerians believe that abduction never took place. I find that heartbreaking because the more a large percentage of us denial or dismiss the possibility or the actual abduction, our ability to rally round – with one voice, one mind, for one cause, is eroded. And that is what happened to us. Several narratives in this direction emanated from blinded loyalists to the then ruling party and immediate past President. The abduction was, and still is, seen as politically and financially motivated. Some say we do this for political positions. At what expense? Lives of innocent girls? How cheap and sad! This same understanding caused slowness in taking relevant actions that requires urgency. Experts say that the action or inaction of the first 24 to 48 hours after abductionis a major determinant of the eventual outcome, positive or negative.

Handling criticism

I understand the power of focus! One reality I had to come to terms with is that not everyone is on the same page with us, and that alone is sufficient reasons to ensure adequate room for their opposing tantrums, lopsided interpretations, and baseless narratives. So, I have had to adjust expectations. However, as time goes by, my emotional immunity quotient is increased with the frequency and strength of these attacks. Truth is, it can sometimes get at me, but the picture of the anticipated future is worth bearing anything for. Besides, there is absolutely no mud thrown at us that can match what we have, by our dismissiveness and denial, caused the Chibok girls. No price, if any, is too much for this cause. Any of the Chibok girls – Hauwa, Kauna, Deborah, Amina, could have been my daughter, sister, niece, or cousin. If it were so, I would still be standing and waiting in anticipation for their return just as I do with the Chibok girls.

Looking back

I have always been drawn to the plight of others. 10 years ago, I started an NGO – The Light Foundation as a platform to cater for the plight of the downtrodden, based on different categories. Now, the campaign for the Chibok girls led to my desire to assist other victims of insurgency, especially the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). As a vehicle to drive support interventions, I conceptualized and birthed ‘Adopt-A-Camp’ (www.adoptacamp.org.ng).

 

Being a Woman of rubies

According to the mandate of the ‘Woman of Rubies’, three things are critical – virtue, value, and verve. I try to combine these three, even though I am not yet there. I am, like we all are, a work-in-progress. I am an imperfect being. However, I believe that exhibiting vigor in the face of the challenging advocacy for the Chibok girls is one that makes me a ‘Woman of Rubies.’ At some point, to guide what we do and don’t do, we developed a set of core values, which we all try to live by, consistently and unwaveringly. So, I am a ‘Woman of Rubies’ because I am consciously grooming myself to be virtuous, one that holds on to guiding principles, and one with vigor and a deep sense of enthusiasm.