Yakubu Oyiza Hope is an Akwa Ibom-based indigene of Kogi state. A fashion designer, certified chef and human trafficking advocate. She is the founder of LUNA Foundation, a foundation that’s solely focused on repatriating and reintegrating trapped victims of human trafficking.
Presently, the organization consists of 182 survivors, which includes, 9 newborn babies, 8 pregnant women, 120 females and 45 males, She works with a team of 18 volunteers who support her organization.
Oyiza Yakubu shares her inspiring story with us in this exclusive interview.
As a child, I loved humanitarian work, from a distance, I loved getting the desired help and this made me volunteer for an organization in 2010, immediately after my secondary school.
I volunteered with the Salvation Army, Nigeria ( HIV/AIDS) department and we would travel across the country for sensitization campaigns. My mum was very supportive of me even when I was so young, after that, I volunteered with Daughters of Charity, St Vincent de Paul, where I went to different villages to run HIV tests and later became an adherence counsellor for HIV-positive patients.
Inspiration Behind Luna Foundation
LUNA foundation wasn’t really my goal in the first place, all I wanted was for people to know what was going on to migrants in Libya, I started using my platform to share not until I came across relatives of missing persons in Libya, then it occurred to me that I could use my experience to bring a group of volunteers together to search from missing persons, get them out of traffickers grip and restore hope to the family.
The Journey So Far
The journey has been stressful and fruitful as well, there are days I want to run away and leave everything behind but when I look at the results so far, I want to do more. We presently have 2 camps in Libya housing 182 individuals and a total of 36 is expected to join us anytime soon, we have also been able to provide answers to 49 relatives about their missing ones. We are currently looking at working in Ghana, and Egypt as well.
Being At The Forefront Of Reintegrating Trapped Victims Of Human Trafficking
Working with the victim has shown me that life is deep and people are stronger than what I give credit for, it has taught me to be holistic and always think on my feet which is one of my greatest strengths.
For victims who have relatives they can trust, we encourage them to stay with the relatives and only share their stories when they feel it’s right, we also encourage them to share their story after undergoing psychology evaluation, this is to prevent them from having a breakdown due to the harsh judgement from the world.
As the lead founder, it’s extremely scary because traffickers see me as a threat and try to frustrate my efforts. I have to be extremely security conscious, provide answers, and be exposed to different gory images and videos, it takes extra grace to keep on.
How We Run The foundation
For now, we don’t have sponsors. We just collaborated with an Italian partner and we got mattresses from them for the newborn babies at the camp.
My Work-Life-Balance Routine As a Single Mother
Being a single mother to a 5-year-old plus work is stressful but I work with time daily, I have effectively built a time table I work with and with the physical support of my brother, it helps in relieving me on my tired days.
What Government Should Put In Place To End human trafficking?
I believe the government should intensify awareness campaigns to villages and educate our local religious leaders, who are the more vulnerable people to the gimmicks of traffickers.
One Thing I Wish To Do To Make The World A Better Place
Hmmm, I would ensure every woman has the POWER to say NO and I would make sure such Power is respected. For children, I would just ensure they live as children without the burden of serving the adults.
Being A Woman Of Rubies
I am a woman of ruby because I have turned my pain to purpose, I have turned my lemon to wine. While I was brutally sexually assaulted and stabbed, I have made the decision to use that experience to ensure no woman has to go through that again just because she wants to make ends meet. I am a woman of rubies because, through my pain, I have seen purpose.
For Young Women Who Aspire To Be Where I Am
Nothing will come easy but keep holding on, and don’t joke with any opportunity around you, it will come in handy in future.
3 women Who Inspire Me and Why
My late mother, Olufunmilayo. She was everything a woman should be, I have always admired her strength and whenever I am stuck, I would say, what will my mother do? Elder Olabisi-Ajai, without even knowing me, she gave me a platform to grow on.
If I Could Address The United Nations Assembly on Issues Affecting The Society
I would talk about human trafficking because it’s a menace that brings about other menace like Drug peddling, forced slavery, organ trafficking, sex trafficking etc. If we can uproot the root, the branches will wither.
Follow Oyiza Yakubu on Facebook to learn more about her work.