Olatunde Olabisi Hawwau is a young, dynamic and resonate Nigerian. The flair for creative writing and the zeal for giving back to the society led her into studying mass Communication at the Lagos State Polytechnic where she is currently a student of Higher National Diploma Programme. OLABISI being a motivational speaker with great interest in leadership skills is also an agent of positive change who is very passionate about good governance and transparency..
She is a girl child advocate and tailored her strength towards teens mentorship and education.
The aim to empower the new generation birthed Step Up Foundation which was Olabisi’s brainchild through her love for humanitarian services.
An organization that focuses on empowering young women and driving the youths towards personal development and nation building, and most importantly helping the less privileged through empowerment. She recently launched the #StepUpagainstDrugAbuse campaign that went viral on social media where she educated the youths and society at large on the topic and also created awareness. Olabisi shares her inspiring story with me in this exclusive interview.
Growing up was quite tough and rough and my parent especially my mum taught me how to be STRONG in the face of all difficulties. She also taught us to share what we have with the world no matter how so little it may be.
This prepared me to always ensure that I share my little knowledge with the world, My childhood experience helped sharpened my preparedness into doing all that I do to help and contribute to the development of my community and society. Even when I never had any idea about what volunteering means but I have learnt to always step in for people who are sick and help lessen their problems if not totally solved.
While growing up, my mum would make us share our food with neighbours even when the food is so little, she would encourage us to help with assignments of other children and help the old ones in our area to fetch water, all these we did without expecting anything in return.
So, it became my way of life and got me all along while growing which metamorphosed into becoming an habit to help others even when they do not call for it.
Therefore, I can boldly say that my childhood experiences contributed immensely and actually prepared me for what I am doing right now and have been the drive towards all the idea of selfless act.
My name is Olatunde Olabisi Hawwau. I am the founder of Step Up Foundation. I am a motivational speaker with great interest in developing leadership skills. I am an agent of positive change who is very passionate about good governance and transparency and I believe change start with me.I am committed towards rendering selfless services through volunteering of which I had effectively and distinctively volunteered for different reputable organisations such as Better society begins with me, Enough is enough Nigeria, Sickle cell aids foundation (Lagos), Brain builder international, Girl hub Africa, Eagle Foundation for Humanity, Ladies with Radiance, project Revamp Africa, to mention a few.
The flair I have for creative writing and public relations led me into studying Mass Communication which I am currently running a Higher National Diploma programme at the Lagos state Polytechnic.
Step Up foundation
The quest to put smiles on the faces of many, most especially the less privileged and love to empower the new generation inspired me start step up foundation. After much brainstorming, an idea popped up that since the motive of the team is to step up to help another and charge people to stop complaining about the society but to step up and join in making it happen for others. Hence the name Step Up Foundation became visible.
Step Up Foundation focuses on empowering young women and driving the youths towards personal development and nation building and most importantly helping the less privileged through basic educational tools which is in line with (SDG 4 – QUALITY EDUCATION), creation of awareness and empowerment programs
Since inception, Step Up Foundation has always call on vibrant and purpose driven youth to join in promoting selfless act in their society. It also encourages the introduction of positive attitude into the society by staging peaceful campaigns to enlighten the youths about volunteering and humanitarian services.
Combining school with work
There is something I have learnt so far in life and that is knowing how best to use your time. My work and schooling are two different things of which I set out the time for each. One is not affecting the other and that is because I set my priority right and straight.
When it is time to give back to the society I do that effectively well, and when time comes to study I focus on that too without limitation. Everything boils down to know what my priorities are and going for it.
Another thing that is helping me cope with the work and studies is my supportive team members. Even if I am not available my mind is always at rest because Step Up Foundation is in good hands. So, God blessed me with very supportive team members who take the vision of step up foundation as their own.These have in doubt been helping me tremendously to balance work and school.
Decision to sensitize the society on drug abuse
The drug abuse campaign focuses on educating the people on the effect of abusing drugs and how dangerous it is to their health and psychological well-being. The aim of the campaign is to influence the youths and everyone engaging in the misuse of drugs on the reasons they need to see beyond their limitations and despise drug abuse. Also, to encourage parents and guardians on proper and adequate care for their children.
Most importantly the sensitization was aimed to achieve a society free of drug abuse, more reason we keep saying it is a collective effort to curb this menace that have eaten deep in the souls of our youths.
However, the inspiration behind this campaign was my encounter with a very young lady taking marijuana and a recent documentary on codeine diet I saw. I was debated and disturbed to witness the derailing path which our promising youths most especially have embarked on. Then I realized that social media is a strong tool in the hands of Nigerian Youths of which I can use this medium. This was the main reason we adopted several platforms on social media to reach out to people on the effect and defects of drug abuse and we were glad of the positive attitude the campaign received from the public and the impacts on the target audience. This campaign also got us featured on a blog called Blackbox Nigeria and here we are again on women of rubies,
A problem free life is an illusion. We all at a point face challenges and that is what makes life interesting when we overcome them. First and foremost funding this is always a challenge for most startups and nonprofits. Secondly, the difficulty of convincing corporate organisation to sponsor our events . When we started we propose to feed 1000 orphans in three states and our budget was 500,000. We started contributing within ourselves to finance the project but with the economic meltdown and coupled with the fact that most volunteers are student we couldn’t achieve anything with this idea. However, aborting the project doesn’t mean we didn’t achieve it, Better society begins with me did a street Christmas fair by feeding the kids on the street on Christmas day, we raise little money and send to them as a way for contributing to the society. Also the challenge of assembling volunteers for our projects
Volunteering for notable organizations
I live with this philosophy that you can’t say you live a worthwhile life if during your stay on earth you don’t help other people grow, I love helping but since I don’t have the capacity in cash as of the moment to help people why not offer my kind which is in my capacity to help others grow. That is just why I volunteer for organisation in order to reach out to people.
You see, volunteering to me is a win-win cause. While helping others you are also getting help by developing your skills one may not even think of having. The drive has always been to help and show love as much as I can. That is why you see me joining other organisations and it has been a wonderful experience for me.
Other projects and activities
After we had the online media campaign against Drug Abuse we are currently on school tours to educate the young ones on the side effect of drug abuse and teenage pregnancy in Osun state, Osogbo to be precise. Also we are planning to stage a walk against Drug Abuse in Lagos by July with focus on market place and where we can get handful of youths for positive impartation.
Also, our “Cloth and Feed The Street” will be coming up later in this year. It is project proposing to cater for 500 children living on the street. We are open to partnering with other organisations whose vision are in line with ours to reach out to people .
I believe reward comes from God and all actions are directed to be selfless without expectation of monetary or recognition from anywhere. The reward received during the course of doing my humanitarian acts may not be materially inclined but if we can count lives impacted as reward then I will say that is the greatest reward so far. People have been getting in touch on how I have impacted them through posts on my social media handles and through step up foundation.
We might not be able to help all but the little we can do we will do it with all our hearts. If lives are impacted and souls are save from going astray through our little acts no reward best suit that.
Having this opportunity to feature on women of rubies is part of reward of encouragement and a call to do more.
Step Up foundation in five years
In five years, I see step up foundation on the world map as one of the leading NON governmental organisation. I see step up foundation providing shelters for the homeless in African, I see us providing jobs that would be a point of reckoning for many.
I see step up foundation in a good place in five years with enhanced vision. In five years I see step up foundation giving life transforming opportunities to young women in Africa countries, giving voices to the voiceless. Providing quality education and helping people have a better life. I see step up foundation achieving more and more by the time we will look back to count the numbers of lives that have been positively impacted, it would be overwhelming.
Dear Mr. President,
I pray this day comes, if i ever had the opportunity to meet the president on this cause, here are what to tell him:
Your Excellency sir, based on the effects of drug abuse among the youths of today I will advise that more attention be focus on this, because youths are the leaders of tomorrow which is today. To end this menace, youths need to be adequately sensitized and given reasons to stay out of drugs by providing more job opportunities. .
Most youths in the country venture into abusing drugs out of frustration idleness and joblessness. An idle hand they say is a devil’s workshop, you will agree with me that youths are characterized with impatience of change, curiosity, and zealousness. They have different aspirations but the unavailability of grounds and platforms visualize them get them frustration and could possible lead them into drug abuse which is neither the solution nor the right thing though.
Sir, the decision which had been implemented to ban some pharmaceutical companies that are producing drugs that are capable of causing damage to the Nigeria youth is a laudable step but there still more to do to put an end to this life threatening myth.
Also, having rehabilitation centres that will help the youths who have engage in this act get proper care so as to be useful to the society is very important. Let us have a standard rehabilitation centres that will help the youths find their ways back and pick up their broken pieces.
More so, grassroots education is important too, therefore no stone should be left unturned in putting a fight up to end the menace of drug abuse claiming the lives of our future leaders. Educational groups should be formed and agencies seeing to the control of drugs under your authority should take significant steps and re strategize to ensure that everyone abides by the rules and regulations guiding the use of drugs. Fines and prosecutions may be adopted caution anyone found guilty of abusing drugs.
I want to believe that if all of these are taken into cognizance, the death rate tool towards the youth caused by the effect of drug abuse would be marginalized.
Oh yes, there have been so sometimes I feel like giving up when things seem not to be just right and the passion and strong determination towards selfless service keep me going stronger than imagined. This thought could be inevitable in a man’s life and mine is not an exception but I never gave as I continued pushing.
Here are some instances the thought flashed. One major incident occurred when I and my team proposed an outreach to feed one thousand orphans in three different states in Nigeria, we started the plan much earlier so as not to be caught unaware, but unfortunately the project was eventually cancelled when all places solicited for funds to push through the project proved abortive.
This period really make me have a second thought if I can actually achieve aim set out for Step up foundation and even for myself.
All of these I later realized that Roses cannot always come without Bruises. Then with consistency and hard work we restrategized and I refused to let a NO or closed doors stop my aims from achieving them.
My mother has always been my inspiration to be a better version of myself. I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that if my mother had the opportunity to acquire formal education, she would be among the leading women in the country because of her strong nature and positive vibes. She will always challenge and encourage us to be better than her in all areas. Each time I see her it reminds me of the reason why I need to strive tirelessly to be a better person in the society so as to inspire other young women never to relent in all their dealings.
My background also inspired me to be a better me. Just like I said earlier that growing up was quite demanding and tasking where you need to strive at times to fend for yourself. These entire put together had been a great inspiration for me to keep on fighting because I never wanted my background to put my back to the ground.
Also learning and looking up to women who have done great exploit in the society always inspire that if these ones can make it, likewise will I make it too. Then through my inspirations, I also strive to be a source of inspiration to those who look up to me especially my siblings.
Being a Woman of Rubies
Well, I will say what makes me a woman of Rubies is just GRACE. Then determination and consistency with hard work upon the grace fetch me this honour. I never give up so easily on the vision to strive tirelessly to attain positive growth and development towards being a better me. More so, the passion for having women live their world in peace made me realize the potentials we possess as of which can never be overemphasized and ultimately must be pursued to change the orientation of those who do not believe in the super power of a woman.
Many a time women are being brutalized physically, psychologically, and morally simply because the world has failed to appreciate their strong powers and values in developing of a country. Women are very strong and energetic creature and we will continue to be.
12. Any final word for young women who want to go into advocacy:
Advocacy is a practice that should be done with so much interest and utmost willingness to make others live and lead a better life. If anyone would go into advocacy at all, I will leave them with these [3 Cs]
The first ‘C’ is Commitment. Be committed. Commitment is a strong will that will enable one see beyond the present situation or any challenges that may pop up and channel one’s energy towards achieving the best.
And the second ‘C’ is Consistency. If one is committed and not consistent in pursuing a goal, it may likely be impossible to get there. Consistency brings about result of being committed towards a cause. Not matter what, do not give up. The effort to put beautiful smiles on any one is the greatest achievement one can ever record.
Finally, do not Compromise. This is as well very important in order not to truncate your positive vibes of advocacy.
Final words or advice for women all over the world
Women are never a piece of furniture nor useless. It is vitally important that every woman all over the world to note that and carry it as a flag wherever they find themselves. Say it to yourself that “I can do it and I believe in myself to make impact” trust me, your believe will drive the strength to actually push through in whatever thing you have set your mind to achieve.
Then every woman should always know that “brain has no gender” the capacity of a woman is not limited to physical fitness. In as much as every individual possess that God given divine gift, irrespective of the gender, it can be used to achieve ultimately to break bounds and barriers. If all notable influential women throughout the world who have contributed remarkably to the growth and development of their society can make it happen, why can’t you too? You being a woman is not an exception to turn things around.
However, just in all you do, what people see, feel or think about you does not define who you are or what you do, rather always believe in yourself.