The Unique Role of Women in Youth Development/Nation Building

Sonya Carson was a single mum who stopped attending school at grade three before she could read and write. She struggled with depression and worked so hard to raise her two sons Benjamin and Curtis. Even though Sonya was an illiterate, she devised a plan to get her sons to pay attention to reading and studying hard. Sonya refused to be a victim of her circumstances and pushed her sons to succeed in life. By this singular act she gave the world the renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who successfully operated on and separated conjoined twins joined at the back of the head. Ben Carson is currently serving his country as the United states Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Mothers are life molders and nation builders.

The word, “busy” is synonymous to modern day life. Efforts to make ends meet and the rat race of achieving an acceptable social status standard has eroded family happy times and relationships. Modern technology although with its numerous benefits to human life and businesses comes with its own disadvantages and distractions. The younger generation is fascinated by the new technological gadgets and social media; many spend precious hours engaging in unprofitable conversations with no one to guide and mentor them appropriately. Fathers and mothers are busy trying to keep their families afloat in the midst of new economic challenges of the 21st century.

Gone are the days when our mothers were at home or worked at jobs that enabled them to be at home when children close from school. Mothers were able to monitor the activities of their children and guide or discipline as appropriate. No wonder then that many of us formed a close relationship with our moms; no wonder that so many poems and songs have been written to eulogize the many sacrifices of mothers as they played a vital role in molding children who become responsible adults to society. Times have changed and we, mothers are so busy that we can barely catch our breath in the numerous challenges that life throws at us. How do we even begin to turn the tide of things around?

A group of women decided to create time to come away from their busy schedule to learn, inspire and remind one another about what was most important– empowering each other and yet able to raise young people who become responsible and dependable adults to their families and society. The National Biennial Conference of Pastors wives a yearly gathering organized by Foursquare Gospel church in her 2018 edition brought together women from different works of life and circle in society. This year’s theme is tagged, “Women Of Wisdom”. In attendance were the wife of Ogun State governor represented by Mrs Omolola Osota and Mrs. Folakemi Edun; the State Director National Orientation Agency, Oyo Directorate, Mrs Dolapo Dosunmu; Wife of the General overseer, Foursquare gospel church, Rev. Mrs Olubisi Meduoye and other ministers and women. 

Representatives of wife of Ogun state governor – Mrs Folakemi Edun & Mrs Omolola Osita; State Director NOA – Mrs Dolapo Dosunmu

As the team who accompanied the keynote speaker, Mrs Dolapo Dosunmu, State Director, National Orientation Agency, Oyo Directorate drove through the camp ground of the Foursquare Gospel Church situated along Lagos-Ibadan express way, there was something serene about the environment.

Team of the Oyo State Director, NOA sets out for the Women of Wisdom Conference.

A cluster of housing units lined up the road blending with nature as trees and lush green grass surrounded the environment. It is the kind of place you would want to go to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city; somewhere to clear your head, rest and regain your energy to face life again. Indeed it was an air of excitement in the hall as women relaxed and were charged by various speakers.

Women at the conference

Mrs Dolapo Dosunmu in her presentation talked about the uniqueness of women’s role in Youth Development and nation building. Her introduction paints an apt picture of this:

“Women play significant roles in our society from birth till the end of their lives. The main responsibility of a woman is to preserve the human race. As a mother, her position is unique. She brings up the children with extreme care. The first school of a child is the lap of his/her mother. It is in recognition of the vital role of a mother in the upbringing of a child that Napoleon said, “Give me good mothers and I will give you a good nation”. Similarly, Brigham young said, “If you educate a man, you educate one person; if you educate a woman, you educate a nation”. No doubt, the progress of a nation depends largely upon the way mothers raise their children”.

Sharing from her experience working with youths, she talked about young people who couldn’t be bordered to show up to take up empowerment opportunities government offered to unemployed youths. Mrs Dosunmu and her team in efforts to enroll these young persons in the N-Power program, placed several calls to many young people who had been selected but refused to fulfill the requirement of concluding the registration with her agency. It seemed like we are grooming youths with “entitlement mentality” and give no serious thought and time to one of the rules of succeeding in life which is simply  to, “show up and be on time”! Mrs Dosunmu passionately appealed to women present at the meeting to monitor and pay attention to ensuring that their wards become young men and women who are willing to learn and take a chance with opportunities that life brings their way.

Rev. Mrs Olubisi Meduoye & ministers appreciates Guest speaker – Mrs Dosunmu after delivering her presentation.

Key Points to note from her address:

  • Build a mother-child friendly relationship with your child.
  • Be a role model – watch how you live and behave as children naturally pick up on their parent’s character traits and this eventually shapes their entire lifestyle.
  • Teach your kids to do the right thing regardless of what other people may be doing.
  • Do not indulge or pamper your children; discipline when necessary.
  • Find time for your children regardless of your tight schedule.
  • Do your best to provide basic needs of your children even if your husband is incapacitated, not economically viable or even a deviant who dodges his responsibilities. In due season you will reap the reward.
  • The youth face a myriad of challenges which can best be overcome when adults create time to exchange of opinions. Youths have a lot of issues they want to discuss with adults and when they get a listening ear, they open up and learn from the adult’s wealth of experience.

In spite of the challenge of the 21st century as mothers we must go back to creating time for our kids and raise them to become the kind of adults we can be proud of in future.

Remember that after acquiring all the money and fame, you eventually get the future you invested in or did not invest in. Build relationships and not just career successes.

Ben Carson had this to say about his mum, Sonya Carson when she passed away in 2017:

“She was one of God’s greatest blessings to me, and it was her foresight and discernment that pushed me to reach my dreams”.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Principal Producer (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

Njideka Ekuma Mbam: She Ran and Her Whole Community Had to Make A Decision

There are stories that you hear and it just gladens your heart in a warm way. And when something you were a part of contributes to the success of the story then you get a sense of fulfillment that you have made a difference in someone’s life. The telephone number featured on the FGMC sensitization radio drama “Pim Pim Pim” became a life line to people who attempted to get help for three girls on the run.

Njideka had listened to education talks about the negative effects of female genital mutilation and cutting also known as female circumcision on girls in school and in church. In her community girls must go through the rite of female circumcision to attain womanhood and soon the drums heralding her time to be cut began to sound.

A few days to her being circumcised Njideka ran to protect herself. Two other girls joined her. A series of event took place which finally lead to the IZZI community abandoning FGMC. Njideka is indeed a brave girl and a hero in the fight against a harmful cultural practice. Here is a short video telling her story and that of her community:

Adebisi Adetunji (C) BusyBee Media for Social Change & Development. Email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com twitter – @DebisiBusybee 

She Needed A Chance to Believe Part 2

Catch up on the first part of the story: She Needed A Chance to Believe Part 1.

Alexandra is the second born of her siblings. She saw her older sister, Esther get enrolled in the university while her closest younger siblings were getting ready to also get into college. She felt left out and a bleak future stared her in the face. She badly wanted to continue her education but this WAEC mountain refuses to give way to her dreams. To challenge her father’s plan to enroll her in learning a trade was out of the question. Her father was revered and his authority was not to be challenged. He wanted so badly that his children succeeded and Alexandra’s case left him feeling like all his hard work to provide was wasted.

If only I would be allowed to attempt the exams again”, Alexandra thought to herself but even she didn’t believe that she could pass any more than her parents.

Days, weeks and months pass by and then one day her father announced that she would be sent to her grandma’s place in the village to enroll in something. Alexandra’s heart was torn in a different directions.  To her it felt like a plan to abandon her far away from home. She was not ready to leave her siblings and all that was familiar to her. Her self-esteem took a deeper downturn.

One day in the midst of all this her older sister who was in the university shared a hopeful news with Alexandra. There was an opportunity at the university where her sister was enrolled in to do certificate courses that did not require scoring up to 7credits in WAEC. Alexandra had a few passes and probably one credit, she wondered if she would be admitted to do the course. Her sister insisted that it was possible but they had one hurdle to cross, convincing their father who by then had lost hope of Alexandra getting into the university.

Her sister, Esther summoned the courage to speak with their father but the meeting took place at his office. Convincing their father was not easy as he argued that Alexandra was terribly weak in learning and so it would amount to a waste of money. Her older sister, Esther pressed harder and had to promise that she will ensure that Alexandra pays attention in school. Esther had to agree to be held responsible if Alexandra fails again.

When Alexandra got the news that her father was willing to give the certificate course in Library science a try, she was ecstatic! Her siblings celebrated this news in their room. The next step was to actually get her admitted into the course. For some reason, the university didn’t give her any hassles as she was admitted. It was a lifeline for Alexandra, she gave the course her best shot, studying so hard and getting her brilliant course mates to teach her. Many nights she will sleep in the class studying and learning as far as she was concerned she was now a university/college student. Never mind that people wondered what good could come out of such a not so “prestigious course” of the times. It wasn’t even a degree or diploma just a certificate course. Alexandra did not care she kept at it and when her one year course was over, she scored 4points, she was an A student. Alexandra wept as she looked at her result, it was unbelievable.

She never believed that she had what it takes in her to succeed as a student talk more of coming out with an A grade. Her parents and siblings celebrated this victory and all voices and ideas that said,  she wouldn’t make it through school were debunked.

Alexandra went on to study nursing, midwifery and became the only medical person in the family. None of her brilliant science-oriented siblings ended up in the medical field and there were high hopes for at least one doctor…hahaha; although there were engineers, biochemistry who ended up as bankers and more.

Well, this story is not about her siblings but about Alexandra, a girl whom many thought couldn’t make it through school and she started to believe it herself too until she faced her mountain squarely in the face. Interestingly years later Alexandra would write her WAEC and scored credits and As in science subjects that she never did while in secondary school. She wanted to make her papers in one sitting and she did it.

Believe in yourself; Believe the best of your children and others. Never give up.

This is my immediate younger sister’s story and I am the older sister who had to face my father to get her to continue her education. I look at her today and marvel at the great woman she had become. Never give up on anyone, keep believing the best.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

An Overwhelming Help! Girl gets School Fees Support – You never Know What Your Story Can Birth!!

When I shared this post, “The Sight of a Hardworking Woman & Mother: How tough can it Get?” little did I know that it will culminate into getting double help and support for this woman and her daughter. I was simply just doing a post about how some women struggle really hard to make ends meet in their family. If you are a blogger or writer like me reading this, follow that instinct and just share your heart about whatever catches your attention, you never know when you make a huge difference.

So here is what transpired after I published that story:

I got a message from a dear friend living across the globe from where I live that she read the story I shared. She wanted to know how she could donate towards part payment of the little girl’s school fees. When I read her message I was shocked and surprised! Yes, because I wasn’t expecting anything to come in terms of assistance from the story apart from what I had donated to help support the school fees of the little daughter of the woman in question. Mostly I avoided even mentioning that until now and I also didn’t want to ask anyone to donate. So here I am finding out that, that brainwave I gave into in publishing her story was the key to making a huge difference in this woman and her little girl’s life.

In the end the money donated covered for a whole school year’s fees for the little girl, meanwhile, her mother was only working hard to get just a term’s school fees.

 God is awesome and knows how to show up for us when we are in need!

I feel humbled and privileged to be a part of the answer to this woman’s cry for help. Sincerely I am still in shock and just moved in a way that words cannot express.

You never know who your story can help, keep writing honestly and sincerely from your heart.

Apart from settling the little girl’s school fees, the donation also covered the school fees for a young visually impaired boy whom I and My Abiye (maternal & child health) team had been giving education support for some years now. Indeed it is a double help and support for these two vulnerable children.

God bless our donor mightly. I cannot mention her name as I believe she wants this giving to be discrete.

Every Boy, every Girl deserves an education.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Just thinking Out Aloud… Are we paying enough Attention to our Boys & Men? key to Gender equality and creating a safe environment for women & Girls

We talk so much about empowering women and girls that I feel we are beginning to leave the boys and men far behind in the scheme of things. Leaving them behind would only hinder our goal of achieving a world of equal opportunity; safety and well-being of women and girls.

 

 

Examples of what I mean
1) A few months ago(May 2017) there was a joint cry raised against boys from a secondary school in Lagos who after finishing their final exams decided that the best way to celebrate was to physically/sexually assault the girls. They were practically tearing the skits and gowns of their fellow school girls with razor blades and had sport attempting to force themselves on these girls. Thanks to one brave woman who stood and raised alarm to save some of these girls. It was a very disturbing and mind boggling story for me.

My question is this: What are we teaching our sons? Are we teaching them to value girls and respect them? Are we teaching them that a real man protects and not hurt or harm? Catch them young is the solution here.

2) In my office these days we seem to have more women in employment more than men. It is so funny sometimes when deciding for dual presentation programs where we need a male and a female, we meet a wall. There are not enough men to go round….hahaha. Then we start asking “where are all the men?” It looks like more women are determined to get an education and succeed. Now, this is a good thing going by the past and even presently in some communities and homes where girls are still prevented from getting an education. Trends of women gainfully employed have evolved over time.More women are likely to have earned a bachelor’s degree by age 29 according to U.S department of labor blog.  More women have become providers in the home although the matter of equal payment still varies from country to country. In Nigeria at least I know for a fact that in government organizations men and women earn equal pay as long as they are on the same level e.g L10.

Balance is what I am advocating for here:

While inspiring, empowering and encouraging girls and women let’s not leave our boys and men behind. This is key to gender equality and women’s access to freedom, safety, and progress.

When a father treats his wife well and shows her respect, his son will likely learn from him.

When mothers teach their sons to respect girls and treat them as equals and not inferior then he will know how to treat all the girls and women around him.

Catch them young, teach right values; share the chores in the home; teach him to become a responsible adult and man.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Dear Parents were you always First in School? Submit your Report Card to Me!! 😀😂Do Something Different to Help Your Child.

Students at the speeches & Sounds schools competition.

Trust us, Nigerian parents, some of us would say something like this after a Prize Giving Day ceremony:

Parent: Romoke, does John have two heads?
Child: No daddy
Parent: If so, why is he the one getting all the prize?!
Child: But Daddy…
Parent: Don’t daddy me in my days I always came first in class (LMAO)

Most parents would not readily admit to the fact that they had challenges passing exams or scoring a good mark while earlier in their school days. Mostly we want our children to get good grades, in fact, get straight A’s in all subjects. And when you attend the end of year prize giving day you cringe on your seat when you see a particular girl/boy being called forward to receive the first prize for taking the first position in about 6 subjects including maths and English. Then you take a peep at your child wishing he/she is the one being accorded such honor that you would have made you a proud parent of a very brilliant child! Hey, nothing wrong with wanting your child to do well and excel in his/her academics. BUT…

Please, dear dad/mum submit your school report sheet and let’s see if you actually came first or you were just an average student or even the last!!

Stop comparing your child with his/her siblings or other people’s children. Every child has his/her strength.

Some children are good at analytical thinking and would do very well with calculations while some are story tellers who will do well in social sciences. Some others are simply creative and would do well in the arts. Build on the strength of your child.
Now that schools are on holidays and we are preparing to resume another school year, help your child do better.

DOs & DON’Ts
Stop speaking down on your child. He/she is not olodo(dullard). Say positive things to your child and tell him/her that they can do better.
Look through his/her report sheet. It will give you an idea of his/her strength and where they need help. Stop looking at your child’s position in class instead look at how scores of subjects can be improved.
Don’t give up on your child; believe that he/she has a bright future. Somebody believed in you in the past and that is why you are where you are today. It could have been a teacher or your parents.
If your child is going to SS1 where students are sent to arts, science or commercially oriented classes please do not insist on him/her being in Science class when that child’s strength lies in the art or commercial class.
Don’t be deceived, just because your child scores high in all the subjects (arts & science) then you push him/her to follow in your footsteps. Study your child’s skills, talents, and interests and encourage him/her along that line.
If a school is not right for your child, change it. Your child doesn’t have to go to the school all your friend’s children went or are enrolled in.

Help for Children with learning disability/difficulties/Slow learners: In case your child has challenges with learning, for example, he/she keeps failing almost all subjects and it is a recurrent thing then you need help. Do not be ashamed to seek professional advice, help, and support for your child.

Here two service providers that can help:
1) Taiwo Adeyanju Center : Offering services in assessing, counseling and therapy for Children with special needs such as learning disabilities/difficulties. Helps to promote social, mental, education and vocational well-being of children.

Website : https://adeyanjutaiwocentre.org.ng/
Phone Number : 08065798289, 07081431994,
Address: 10 Lala Avenue, Off Adenuga Street Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo State.

2) Diamond Psychological Consult & Services : Offers services in a) psychological assement of a child/persons intelligence (IQ test), language skills, personality. b) Therapy and counselling

Contact:

Phone no: 08079905834, 08128276962

Address: No 2, Sonel Bonei Way, Salami Estate Rd, New Bodija, Ibadan, Oyo state.

Email – info@diamondmoor.com.ng

Twitter: @moordiamond

Adebisi Adetunji(C)