I have a zeal to help the less privilege – Fatima Habib
Fatima Mohammed Habib is the youngest humanitarian in Nigeria with a heart of gold. She has passion for community service. At 14, she founded the Advocacy for Human Value Foundation (AFHVF), a not-for-profit organisation aims at improving the lives of the most vulnerable by providing them with basic needs of life such as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), healthcare services, protection and education across Nigeria.
Fatima is a graduate of Political Science from University of Maiduguri, and a YALI Regional Leadership Course (RLC) alumna. The organisation is powered by over 1, 300 volunteers around Nigeria and 30 staff members with operations in Abuja, Borno, Yobe, Kaduna, Kano, Taraba, Jigawa and Katsina states.
Fatima is well known for creating awareness on child sexual exploitation, gender based violence and promoting girl-child education in vulnerable communities. Her organisation has impacted over 6000 lives in 73 marginalised communities in Northern Nigeria over the years it has been in existence.
In October 2020, Huawei Technology Company Nigeria Limited partnered with the AFHVF and the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy in donating standard equipment and renovating the school building of Al-Walidyn Charitable School in Pantami Community, Gombe State, Nigeria.
Fatima’s motivation comes from support she gets from her family and the values upon which she was raised including kindness to people of all backgrounds. She shares her inspiring story with ESTHER IJEWERE in this exclusive interview.
I was born on September 23, 1999. I am Kanuri by tribe and hail from Maiduguri, Borno State. I had my primary and secondary schools education at Adeola International School, Abuja and later moved to Maitama Model Secondary School, also in Abuja, to complete my Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) in 2015. I’d say that I have always wanted to help the less privileged. My parents were my first teachers and therefore had the biggest influence on my life. Things they say and do, their way of being and relating to me, and others, laid the foundation for many of my beliefs, values, attitudes and respect for people around me.
Inspiration Behind Human Value Foundation (AFHVF)
My zeal and passion to help the less privileged most definitely pushed me into this path. Let me start with the man whose character, intellectual milieu, and philanthropic gesture to whosoever approaches him in the day, at night, or any other time is indescribable. He is Dr. Mohammed Kyari Dikwa mni. He has greatly inspired me beyond measures.
Additionally, Dr. Zainab Bagudu (the First Lady of Kebbi), whose Medicaid Cancer Foundation, is similar to my Foundation’s objectives, remains dear to my heart as a woman. I also had the opportunity of meeting Hajia Laraba Shuaibu (a barrister who works with my dad in the Corporate Affairs Commission) in 2014 with my siblings. She had cupboard-of awards displayed in her sitting room, which I believe was as a result of her versatility, network, and consistency towards work and profession.
My Passion For Issues Centered Around Child Sexual Exploitation, And Gender-Based Violence
We realised that one of the most prevalent issues that almost all women face is Gender-Based Violence. We have studied and come to the conclusion that most women face this problem because of their dependence on others for their sustenance. The solution to the most causes of Gender-based violence is the economic empowerment of women.
To this end, I recently started the advocacy on sexual exploitation. We advocate making these victims become stronger and well informed so that in spite of the daunting challenge, they would be able to speak up and change the face of the world.
Sometimes, the security challenges in the Northeast make it difficult to reach some communities. Even when one is determined to go, loved ones would caution against that. Other times, there is the issue of funding.
When we have a project to execute, we usually find it quite challenging to raise funds to meet our budget. We navigate the security challenges by trying to do as much as possible what we can, in areas that are safe. For the funding, we try as much as possible to cut down our budget or improve efforts on fundraising
My Thoughts On The Development And Advocacy Sector, What Stakeholders Should Do Better
Stakeholders can do more with the regulations in the sector. Founders should be vetted before giving the necessary license or registration documents to start. This is to protect against people who set up non-profits to enrich themselves. Stakeholders should set more regulations to protect the humanitarian development space from being flooded by people who don’t have the appropriate aim.
Thematic Areas My Organisation Covers
Currently, we work in the areas of health, education, and the environment. In the aspect of education, we’ve assisted many people. We have given scholarships and we recently built a school with the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and Huawei Technologies Nigeria. We just completed the building of a charity school – primary to secondary levels.
How I’m Using My Organisation To Create Room For Women In The Community
About thousands of people’s lives have been impacted and shaped by my foundation as we have been able to give children their right education by enrolling them in schools and funding their education. We have done a lot of fundraising on social media platforms and also a television in providing hospital expenses to people with special disabilities (Vulnerable members of society).
Periodically, I visit the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Maiduguri and hold discussion sessions with some of our targets where we talk out the problems faced by them. This leads to the curing of trauma and depression among the vulnerable members in the various camps we visited. I recently started the advocacy on sexual exploitation. We advocate making these victims become stronger and more informed so that despite the daunting challenge they face, they could speak up and change the face of the world.
Women Who Inspire Me
1. Dr. Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu
2. Hajiya Laraba Shuaibu
Other Projects And Activities
For health, we are assisting people who can’t pay their hospital bills. We post it online mostly. In 2018, the then-minister of health saw some of our posts and made sure that one of the boys we were assisting was given the care he needed.
As for the environment, you know the northeastern part of the country has been prone to conflicts, especially Maiduguri. We have been providing aid in IDP camps and communities affected by criminalities.
In the area of sanitation, we provide boreholes. For the females, we sensitise them on child sexual exploitation and provide them with sanitary pads to enhance their menstrual hygiene among others. That is water sanitation and hygiene.
My Work-Life Balance Routine
I understand that to whom much is given, a lot is expected. I have never taken the privilege I have for granted. I try to be as very organised as possible. Whatever I do, I plan adequately for it. Anything that comes up later that is not in my plan, initially, I try to see if some plans can make way for it. If they are all priorities, I postpone or discard them as appropriate.
Being A Woman Of Rubies
I am very ambitious. Supporting and encouraging people to pursue their own goals and dreams, I make my own as well. I have a vision for my future and chase after it with veracity.