‘Don’t be afraid to discuss sex education with your kids’
Social Media Made People More Aware Of Sexual Abuse
The Coronavirus has in no little way made the world appreciate frontline workers more; people who defy odds to stand in the gap and keep the society safe. Dr. Nimi Ekere is one of such unsung heroes, working tirelessly to keep us safe.
A trained medical doctor and a consultant Family Physician, she’s a Fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Family Physicians. She is a life coach, mentor and teacher, who is extremely passionate about children and young people walking in the right path to achieve their full potentials.
She is also very passionate about effective and intentional parenting. Her Foundation, Ekom Charity Foundation, mentors’ young people and also cares for the less privileged in the society. She is also the founder of Smile and Shines Children’s Foundation which is a non-profit organisation for children, aimed at preventing child sexual abuse, providing the needed help and support as well as emergency care and treatment with adequate follow up and rehabilitation for victims (children) of sexual abuse.
She is the author of a collection of books that teach children and parents all they need to know about child sexual abuse. They include Some parts are special for preschoolers and young children aged 2 to 7 years, Setting boundaries for older children, Sparkles at dawn, for teenagers and young adults and Into the light for Parents and guardians.
Dr. Nimi Ekere is also a well sought-after public speaker and happily married with kids. The inspiring Doctor shares her journey with me in this mind-blowing interview.
I grew up seeing my mother care so much for others. My mother literally lived for others, especially the indigent. Up till now, she still pays fees and house rents for people that are in need. She taught us how to love people, show empathy and go the extra mile for others. Even if I have a warm and calm personality, I can say that the act of giving, showing love and generosity to others were things I saw my mum do, so, it became a part of me. My dad, on the other hand, made me love to write. He would buy newspapers like Concord, Punch and magazines like NewsWatch, Prime People etc, and would hand over to me after reading, as I would insist; I had to read them.
Afterwards, I started to write articles and then I started to write short stories. I would take a wooden spoon and stand in front of the mirror and just talk; I liked Oprah Winfrey and I thought I could talk like her. Looking back, I think my childhood truly did play a significant part in what I am doing today albeit subtly.
Inspiration Behind Ekom Charity Foundation
I have always loved children and young adults. I had always known I would mentor children and since I also have a heart for humanity, I decided to start Ekom Charity Foundation years later to mentor young children and care for the less privileged, especially women. We go to schools to teach children about charting a good course for their lives. They are taught to avoid peer pressure, drugs, all forms of vices and we counsel them too. The foundation also does free medical outreaches and health campaigns.
So far, we have carried out numerous free medical services for the less privileged. We have organised events like Christmas parties in slums with Santa Claus giving wonderful gifts to the children. Most of these kids had never had a Christmas party in their lives and the excitement on their faces remain indelible, to say the least. I am deeply passionate about children; maybe this is because I am the first child.
Smile and Shine are new, and it was started because I had and still have a burning desire to end child sexual abuse. I had seen children become medically and psychologically traumatised because of CSA, while some even committed suicide. I have seen parents lose their children to the deleterious effects of CSA. I have also seen people blame the victims or survivors rather than give them the help that they deserve while the perpetrators walk the streets like heroes; I want to stop this.
I want to be able to help children not to get abused in the first place and in the sad event that they get abused, that help is proffered and these children are subsequently reintegrated back into the society and become healthy adults regardless. I want to also break the silence that is attached to CSA. I call it the “don’t tell anyone” phenomenon, which is common in this part of the world. I believe that if victims are allowed to speak up, help would come faster and so, healing would also be faster and long-lasting.
The Journey So Far
It has been an emotional journey for me, financially tasking and truly time-consuming, but it is worth every step. As long as a child gets help and never goes back to that experience, I am so happy and fulfilled. I would need collaborations from the government as well as other NGOs as sometimes, the children need more than the emergency medical and psychological care. They could need to go to a safe place, as their ‘homes’ might be unsafe for them. We also need justice to be served, as the perpetrator should ideally get prosecuted. Again, this would require collaborative efforts from the legal angles and law even agencies.
Being A Medical Doctor, Life Coach, Teacher, Wife, And Mom And Managing It All
It really isn’t easy, but I thank God for strength and wisdom. I work hard and try my best to give my best in anything I do. I do not joke with my role as a wife and mother; I do well to take care of the Homefront because I believe that your home should be a prototype of what you want to see in the society. So, I spend time with my husband to train our kids. I try to spend time to teach them, support, and nurture them on the right path. It is not surprising that they are always at their best behaviour, and winning awards in addition to their outstanding academic achievements; I owe it all to God.
I also have a supportive husband, who is my best friend and stands in just well when I have to be away caring for patients, teaching or mentoring children and young people.
I have published four books for preschoolers and young children, older children and preteens, teenagers and young adults and parents. So, I have a collection of books for the family on how children can prevent sexual abuse and how they can build a formidable relationship with their parents. The book for parents is an exposé on child sexual abuse. Everything a parent must know; from red flags to tell tale signs and how a child and the family can get help when abuse occurs, including when and where to get help. Additionally, it also gives practical steps on how a parent-child relationship can be built and sustained. It is indeed a must have for the family.
The Epidemic Of Sexual And Why We Should All Be Involved
I would like to state here that child sexual abuse has always been here with us. Social media has helped a great deal to make people more aware of the menace called CSA. If it appears to be on the rise, I will say that the state of the economy could be contributory. Parents have to work so hard and the children are left in the hands of their nannies and relatives, who may even be the abusers. Also, a lot of parents are not friends with their children. Having a good reputation with your child and instilling the right values in them is a step towards preparing CSA. A child, who needs to seek validation from external sources, is a vulgar child at risk for molestation. Also, parents need to start early to teach their children sex education using age-appropriate words and terms; all these are contained in my books.
On Parents Who Hardly Have Time For The Kids
Create time for your kids. No one can take care of your children better than you. No maid or relative can care for your kids better than you; this is not only for mothers, even fathers should be involved in raising the children. Both parents need to spend time to speak with their kids as often as possible and build a good relationship with their children. Your children should be able to tell you anything without the fear of being judged or criticised.
Being A Medical Doctor And Children’s Advocate
I think it is easier for me because I’m taken seriously; the children open to me and tell me things they can never tell their parents. And because I create an enabling and confidential environment with them, it makes it a lot easier for me. They tell me I am their role model and some even say they want to be doctors when they grow up. I would say that being a doctor makes the work somewhat easier.
Women Who Inspire Me To Be Better
My mum, Mrs. Joy Raymond; she is an amazing woman, who set the pace for what has become my lifestyle today. She is generous, kind, selfless and really caring. All these qualify I see in myself and I truly thank God for a great mother.
Oprah Winfrey- I love her love for humanity and as I said earlier, I had dreams of being on TV as a child because of Oprah. Late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya was someone I admired greatly; I think she was a great woman and I really loved her family values and all she stood for. I still listen to her messages; she inspired me so much.
Being a Woman Of Rubies
I would say that I am a go-getter and once I put my heart to a cause that I think is right, I go all out. Again, I am touching lives, which is what God requires of me as a Christian. I think these and more make me a woman of rubies.
On Protecting Kids From Sexual Abuse During The Pandemic
Make your children your friend; let them not walk on eggshells when they relate with you. Make sure you call from work to check up on them from time to time; installing a CCTV would also be of great help. Do not be ashamed to discuss sex education and boundaries with them. Also talk to their caregivers or nannies. Let your children know how to say no to untoward behaviours and advances. Also, educate the nannies about your expectations, do’s and don’ts and boundaries.