Young people bring lots of value to activism – Sandra Okeleke
The developed countries integrate and engage their youth in the mainstream development and governance processes. They believe that these young people, in particular, have the power and responsibility to stand up and take action to achieve unity and sustainable development in their countries.
While resisting the temptation to start rolling out names of many young people, who have changed the world today, there is no doubt that the passion and commitment to creating scientific breakthrough and social change, demonstrated by these young individuals, remind us how much the youth achieve when given the right opportunity.
But it is a twist in the tale in Nigeria where the youth are never given the chance to exhibit their innovative and leadership skills. For instance, we see many university graduates (even with First Class Degrees) being churned out but end up wasting away or gallivanting on the streets while others do dubious ventures.
The plight of the youth, in Nigeria, is very disturbing!
As part of Women of Rubies’ collaborative work with NGOs, I am delighted to introduce Sandra Okeleke, the President of ‘Passion for Self Discovery Initiative’. I interviewed this ‘young activist’ to discuss some of her NGO’s most iconic campaigns and her quest for a better Nigeria.
Meet her and her kind of Activism
Okeleke Ifeanyi Sandra is my name – born to be ‘MAD (Making A Difference)’. I’m a graduate of Mass Communication from the prestigious Moshood Abiola Polytechnic (Abeokuta, Ogun State) and also, a BSc student of Crescent University where I’m studying Mass Communication.I’m the Founder of ‘Passion for Self Discovery Initiative’ – it is a Non-Governmental Organisation. Our aim is to create an atmosphere where youths can thrive in every facet of life while contributing positively to nation building. We also help our youth to discover their talents, nurture it and put it into use. There is this gap we help to bridge in the literacy level between the rich and the poor. So far so good, we have seen our impact as we continue to help the youth develop patriotic, entrepreneurial and self-reliant spirit.Our organisation is not gender based – it is for both male and female.
The alarming increase of unemployment in our society was what motivated me and I strongly believe that when we teach these young ones how to be self-reliant, this problem would be reduced to a minimal level.On facing the ‘youth stigma’ as the President of an NGO since young people are often dismissed in the ‘running of things’ simply by virtue of their age:Youth stigma is inevitable and I am one of its victims but I have learnt to go for what I want and never accept “No” for an answer. My passion, to make a difference, drives me on – always!
The value young people bring to Activism
Young people actually bring lots of value to activism for reason being that the entire society looks up to us to be ‘MAD’ and so, as a youth, when you ‘Make A Difference (MAD)’, the society appreciate you and want to reckon with you.
On funding her NGO
Funding? That’s a major challenge for a young lady wanting to make a difference – I must say it hasn’t been easy at all. I am a student (a corps-member) and running a Non-Governmental Organisation without a good paying-job – you know what that means! Well, in spite of all these commitment, some people share my vision and would always support financially when the need arises; more so, my family and friends are not left out, especially my fiancé, who has been of tremendous support in all ways.Her NGO’s campaign she is most proud of
I can’t readily pick one or call to mind but generally, I am proud of all our campaign as we have identified the hidden potentials in young ones and helped them to grow in those areas, and the results have been wonderful.On issues limiting the chances of the Nigerian youth and her advice.My advice to the younger generation, any time and any day, is for them to discover who they are, discover their passion and work on it and I tell them, they would never regret doing so.
On thoughts to give up on her project
Many times, I have felt like giving up, especially due to lack of funding. There are times we have had projects (already prepared and everything is set) but there was no money to carry those projects out and we had to cancel them. Such experience breaks the heart and I’ve often felt like quitting but each time that feeling arises, something in me reminds me that so many lives would suffer if I take such a decision. That reminder has always been my driving-force.
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