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Ashoka Africa tasks new fellows on sustainability


Josephine Nzerem. PHOTO: diplomaticwatch

The African division of Ashoka has inducted three fellows and tasked them on sustainability through various change mediums in the society.

The induction was based on their ability in solving societal problems and called on social entrepreneurs to use systematic approach in the change process.

Lead Curate for Young Change makers Ashoka Africa, Adaoha Onyebuchi, said fellows become part of a global network of change makers, which would help them, explore knowledge and collaborate with other great minds.


One of the inductees, Executive Director, Community Healthcare Initiative, Liberia, Naomi Julay-Solanke expressed excitement that she was found worthy to be a fellow after the preliminary assessment.

Solanke noted that her organisation is aimed at supporting menstruating girls because lack of access to sanitary pads remains a problem in Sub Saharan Africa.

“In order to bridge the gender gap and promote girl’s retention in schools and other spaces, we provide disposable pads for them.

We generally provide social services specifically to women and girls in slum communities”, she added.

Founder of Stroke Action Nigeria, Rita Melifonwu, said Ashoka found her after she won the world stroke organisation award in 2015.

She noted that her organisation is a stroke support system on coping with life after stroke and support people at risk of having a stroke like people with high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and smokers.

Director, Ashoka Africa Fellowship, Josephine Nzerem, said youth champions are allowed to learn from fellows on how to create systemic solutions.

Nzerem said: “Everybody’s problem has a root cause, so if you don’t build a system to solve the cause, you keep servicing it. That is why we always want our youth champions collaborating with our fellows because they have identified and built systems to deal with the root cause.”

There was a visit to Iwaya community, the host community where a youth fellow, Chief Executive of Pearls Africa, Abisoye Akinfolarin teaches girls on how to code.

Asides teachings on coding, the girls, who are about 50 in number from a predominantly poor community, within the age range of 10-17 are motivated and given the opportunity to also read their books. Girls within the 18-25 years are also taught especially during summer vacations and strikes.

Explaining, Akinfolarin said: “Most times when certain people who work in this sector and residents of the building the office is located come around, the reaction we get is ‘I know where these girls are coming from, I can smell them’ They are saying you didn’t get the rich people, you went to the slum. Most of these girls help their mother in smoking fish, and when they are coming to learn, they trek from school so they are sweating, it is usually a mixture of all sorts of smell.”

Sharing some of her experiences in training the girls, she explained: “We have had an experience where girls came in the morning to the office instead of going to school, before we found out that their mensuration started and they needed pads to go to school.”

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