That Story that Says – I Can Make it! Yes You Can!

As a creative person, story writer and producer I can smell a great story miles away. My ears are quick to pick up on a good story. Here we were in the office working and in comes a colleague. She had with her a copy of an admission letter to do her masters at the university. I was so excited for her because I had watched her grow from being a receptionist at the corporation to become an On-Air personality. I just had to get her to tell her story. I promise you,  It is indeed that kind of story that says – “YOU CAN MAKE IT, REGARDLESS OF YOUR BACKGROUND OR STRUGGLES”!

Her Story

My name is Lilian Onianwa(Née Ukandu)

My story is long I’ll try as much as I can to shorten it

I finished secondary school at  age16. I had everything planned out that is, get admission into the university to study medicine; finish up; get a masters degree and get married. Things didn’t work out as I planned.

I wrote the JAMB examination and got admission into Ebonyi State University to study Microbiology but only spent 2 years in the course and couldn’t continue. My father was in far away South Africa and somehow we were not getting any money from him because my stepmom was keeping it all for herself.

I had to drop out and moved to my grandmother’s house in Ibadan, Southwest Nigeria. I didn’t get tired of looking for admission because for me getting admission into school meant living…”How can I not go to school”?

I wrote many exams and got admitted into various tertiary institutions-OAU Ife, FUTA, and Wesley University Ondo. Each time the admission came through for me there would be no money to pay school fees. But I couldn’t just stop and fold my arms…NO. I knew that I didn’t have money to pay school fees but I just won’t stop! The joy in my heart each time I get these admission letters is immeasurable. I was hopeful and each time I’ll say to myself “at least it’s just money that is the remaining ingredient in my educational pursuit”. ‘I just wanted to go to school and I didn’t have a job either to support myself. I was living on a monthly allowance that I got from my Uncle.

In 2011, I finally got a job as a receptionist in a media organization, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) with my Senior Secondary School Certificate and was earning 17,300 at the time barely enough to fend for myself. Life as a receptionist in FRCN was a different ball game. Half the time, people looked down on us a lot because to them “she is just a receptionist “. In fact, I was the staff with the lowest grade level and I was constantly bullied and degraded for that. There were times I would cry and cry but I kept telling myself that one day ‘I will bag a Ph.D.”.

Finally, I got an admission into the University of Ibadan to study Psychology in 2012. It was a Part-time course and I had to combine working at my job and studies. It was challenging especially when I became pregnant with my daughter. At times, I will be on duty and I’ll have to leave the office to go and write my exams and come back to work after the day’s exams…but I kept pushing.

In 2013, I wrote a letter to the management for Redeployment to the programmes department and with the help of  Mr. Gabriel Onafurume, the Deputy Director Programmes (DDP) at the time I was considered for it. I got redeployed to the Library because that was the only unit in the department that can take a low-level staff like me. I was a Level 4 officer. However, I knew I could do more so I joined a production team and began to feature on a programme called ‘Campus Beat’. This gave me an exposure to the art of presentation and programme production and it worked in my favor.

I have had 3 promotion interviews since I started working with FRCN. Each time I go before the interview panel and I’m asked to bring my credentials, and as I hand them my O’levels result, I die 30 times over. To the glory of God in the last promotion interview which held in January 2019, I went there with my B.Sc certificate! I graduated in 2018  with a 2.2. I was 0.1 shy of a 2.1.

After graduation, I wanted more, I had to go to the next phase and the Post Graduate school, the University of Ibadan will never take me with my Pass in Mathematics(which was graciously waved during my undergraduate level). So I went back to Secondary school and wrote NECO(July 2018) exams again after 14 years. Fortunately, I made all my subjects in that one sitting and now I’m on my way to studying a masters degree in Personality and Social Psychology. and I’m not stopping there as I intend to eventually bag a Ph.D.

What motivates me: Success
I want to be a very successful woman. I have a beautiful daughter and someday I want her to read the Newspapers and see something about her mother. There was no way that was going to happen if I didn’t go to school. No matter how wealthy I am as a ‘business’ woman with no degree I will never be fulfilled if I didn’t get my degrees.

All the while, I was alive but I wasn’t living. Getting a degree gave me a new life..now I’m fulfilled. I feel like I can tackle anything life throws at me now with confidence. But then some people may say ‘it’s just a degree’; to me, it’s not just a degree, it’s the key to a new life, a new ME and a breath of fresh air.

My dreams:

  • I want to become a Criminal Psychologist and I’m already working on that.
  • I hope to own a Television show that will focus on criminals especially the ones serving time for murder/homicide, investigation of the 24 hours leading up to when the crime was committed, what triggered that action and rehabilitation for the prisoners during and after prison. And this dream is very VALID!

You can Make it ; Yes you Can! 

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

16 YEAR OLD GIRL MENTORING OTHER GIRLS – LAUNCHES AN “ALL GIRLS MUST GO TO SCHOOL PROJECT ”

In Nigeria, it is estimated that 23% of women aged 15-19years have begun childbearing and 32% of teenagers in rural areas have become young mothers, according to the Demographic Health Survey of 2013. One of the focal points of discussion at the just concluded family planning conference in Nigeria which took place on the 3rd – 6th of December, 2018 in Nigeria is the prevention of teenage pregnancy and promotion of adolescent reproductive health rights.

Youth and Adolescents were given the opportunity to speak up about their health needs so policymakers can put in place services to meet these needs. As part of efforts to make visible the works of young people making an impact in their communities, 5 young people shared their innovative work as it relates to reproductive health needs of adolescents and young persons. The youngest of them, to give a pitch about her work was 16 years old, Peace Ayo Adegbola. It was heartwarming seeing this young determined girl doing something to make the lives of others better.

Peace giving a pitch about her work with girls in her community.

Peace Adegbola is a role model to other adolescent girls in her community. She equips girls with life skills and information necessary to curb teenage pregnancy. She shared the story of her journey into becoming girls advocate in this interview with me.

A.A: Tell us your name

Peace: My name is Peace Ayo Adegbola

A.A: So are you a student?

Peace: Yes I’m a student. I just wrote my WAEC, waiting for admission into the university. I am a girl advocate and I’m 16 years old.

A.A: What steered you up in that direction?

Peace & Her Dad

Peace: My daddy works with Society for family health and so he goes to rural communities to educate these young girls about the importance of family planning. Sometimes he normally takes me along. When I go to these communities I find that the majority of these adolescent girls are not in school. Boys are going to school and a majority of the girls are at home. I was just 10 years old so I started asking questions, became anxious and wanted to do something about this. I felt like if a 10year old girl Like me is outspoken, I wanted other girls to be too and I decided to be an advocate. And my dad inspired me, the communities I have been to and what the girls are passing through.

A.A: That was how you started the girls club?

Peace sharing her story in a quick interview with Adebisi

Peace: The girls club actually started as a self-esteem session with the girls. I launched a project on “All Girls must go to School” which targeted girls that are not in school to ensure that these girls go to school. We have about 200 girls are now in school as a result and come this September more girls will be enrolled. I needed a sustainability plan to keep these girls in school. I found out that something so simple as self-esteem makes them drop out of school. So I created a small group where I talk to these young girls. At first, it was just the girls we were sponsoring to school.

A.A: How are you funding this sponsorship?

Peace: Strong Enough Girls are my key partners, Youth Hub Africa, and so many partners and some individuals that buy into the idea.

A.A: Going forward where do you see this? Are you intending to fully make a career of development work?

Peace: Yes! Because my partner, who happens to be my dad, and I currently jointly own an organization. It is something I want to do for life; it’s something that even though I do other things, this is one thing I will never leave. This is service to humanity and girls like me. I believe so much in their potentials.

A.A: Your advice for girls, adults and especially parents.

Peace: My advice to young girls is that there is time for everything; take it one step at a time. And if you have made some mistakes don’t use it to judge yourself or pull yourself back. The thing about making mistakes or falling down is for you to know the right way to take. My advice to parents is that they should have a close relationship with their kids and to actually open up. Tell them about sexual reproductive issues. Talk to your child about hygiene, menstrual hygiene. Do not code things and give wrong information, for example, say that “if a boy touches you, you will get pregnant, No! Tell them that it is sex that gets a girl pregnant. Prepare them so they will make the right choices.

Adolescent and youth health needs is a must attend to.

Someone mentored Peace Aydegbola right and now she, in turn, has become a mentor and role model to other girls in her community, nipping teenage pregnancy in the bud and inspiring girls to go to and finish school.

One person can make a huge difference

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

Pacelli School for the Blind and Partially Sighted, Nigeria

Photo Hanging on the Wall in front of the Principal’s office at Pacelli School for the Blind & Partially Sighted.

Students appear in clean and neat purple uniform, black Cortina shoes, white socks with a blue line at the tip. It is the beginning of another school session; students laughed and chatted happily with their schoolmates whom they haven’t seen for almost two months because of the long holidays. Soon they filed up in a row of two on a pavement and faced the beautiful and neatly mowed lawn. A few students stepped forward carrying drums and sticks and begin to beat it as their fellow students raised a song of praise. Voices of these visually impaired and partially sighted children flowed towards new parents waiting with their sons and daughters to be checked in for the new school term.

I listened to their beautiful voices and somewhere deep within my heart I was glad that they have the opportunity to be educated, empowered and made ready for a life of independence at Pacelli School for the blind. It was an emotional experience for me as well, as I watched newly admitted students hold onto their parents unsure of what laid ahead for them in their new school. Some of these parents wrapped their hands around their chests with mixed emotions. In their eyes and facial expression, they are relieved that finally, their wards can now get a quality education in a place that will cater to their unique need. However, they worry about leaving their children in the care of the school administration and managers. Mostly I saw hope in spite of the uncertainty of what the future holds.

Pacelli School for the blind is owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos state and it’s been run by Sisters. The 56years old school which was established on the 16th of June 1962 provides elementary school education and 1year rehabilitation services for older visually impaired or partially sighted children in secondary school. This is to equip them with coping skills in school and life.

It is a non-discriminatory school which admits children from both Muslim and Christian homes. Pacelli school for the blind and partially sighted is also a Non-paying institution that offers free education, accommodation, feeding(3 times daily), free educational materials, and school uniforms. The school is sustained by donations in kind and cash from organizations, religious institutions, individuals and parents who go the extra mile by giving and also helping to raise funds from their friends and sphere of influence.

Support a visually impaired child today by donating whatever you can to Pacelli School for the blind and partially sighted.

My team and I at Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative are doing our part by facilitating and sponsoring the enrollment of a visually impaired boy in the school.

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As we expand our educational support program and raise more funds we hope to donate to enabling more visually impaired children to attend Pacelli School for the blind.

There is ability in disability with an enabling environment.

Join us in helping the work at Pacelli to go on for many more years to come. You can visit the school and donate in cash and kind. If you are far away or across the world, You can call 08145710797/ 07016008848 or send fund support to First Bank, Nigeria – 2004948780 

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

Every Child Has a Right to Education & Quality Life

Pinterest. com

As a parent or guardian you have a duty to provide for and protect your child. Do not burden your son/daughter with your responsibility. Plan to have only the number of children you can cater for.

Every child has a right to be cared for and provided for.
Every child deserves to live in a safe environment in order to achieve his or her potential.
Every child has a right to provision of basic needs
Every child has a right to protection
Every child has a right to quality life & education. 

Say No to Child Labor

Say No to Child Abuse 

Now that Schools are in session, ensure that your child is enrolled and regularly attends school. 

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

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)

Speeches & Sounds by “The Dew” – Catching them Young

I was part of a Speech and Sound competition for Students organized by Adewunmi Aluko, we call her “the Dew”. This dear friend and sister is passionate about helping young people to pronounce, speak boldly and correctly the English language. It is also aimed at boosting the self-confidence of children. For my dear friend the Dew, it is giving back to society using her skills as a speech coach, presenter and news reader. Now she wants to catch them young.

I was reminded of my vowel and consonant sounds today even as an adult. See the drama unfold as students tried to pronounce words and make sounds… Hehehe try me and you will understand that It is not easy o!
Kudos to all the participating schools and children. It was fun and intense.

Photos from the event which took place at the Institute of African Studies University of Ibadan:

American Christian Home School Students
Deril Academy School
Aunty Mary’s Head Start School.
Living Spring School
A cross section of students participating in the speeches & sound competition
Panel of Judges comprising of speech coaches & Quiz master: Earnest Odirri, Chinelo Obidike, wunmi Aluko.
Some of the school girls taking a selfie with Wunmi Aluko and me… Girl power!
Panel of judges – Stella Oyebanji, Ernest and Chinelo
We didn’t forget to take a selfie with the boys. They are very dear to our hearts too😀💓

Contact Wunmi Aluko for speech & sound training for students & teachers; for anyone or group who wishes to speak right and sound confident. 080126262814. 

Adebisi Adetunji(C)

A worrisome Protest/Trend

STUDENTS ON PROTEST
Students protesting in Oyo State

Friday the 3rd of June, 2016 was just another day and it had been a busy one at work for me. So here I was exhausted and on my way home. I carried my hand bag on one shoulder and my lap top bag with all my working tools heavily on the other shoulder. I matched down the stairs walking all the way from the third floor. Just when I stepped outside; I caught a glimpse of secondary school students marching towards my office building in a protest. This was a warning sign that something was seriously wrong…I mean I can’t remember the last time students in secondary school took to the streets in protest. So I had to wait a while to be sure it was even safe to step outside the gate even though their grievance was not targeted towards me or other people on the street.

Finally they gathered at the gate and angry chants about the  new state government policy to have a public-private ownership of some of their schools (Public schools). These children felt that their parents would not be able to afford the fees when this policy goes through. In fact many of their parents who work in the public service have not been paid their salaries for months. And rightly so in my own opinion this new policy would definitely affect the number of children of low income earners who gets the privilege of been educated.

This protest was to be the first one, as on Monday the 6th June, 2016 more students joined the protest. This time some leaders of the Nigerian Labour Congress(NLC), Oyo state chapter where in custody of the Police over an alleged disruption of a stakeholders meeting held with concerned government officials on the matter of the new policy. As far as a number of people were concerned it was simply an attempt by government to shelve their responsibility towards the people on education.

The protest became somewhat destructive as students were alleged to have attacked some government buildings. Right now Public Schools in the state have been closed down to prevent further escalation of the conflict.

It is worrisome that half the time the school year calendar timetable  of public schools are disrupted and  spent dealing with one crisis or the other between the state government and teachers or Labour Union. Pupils supposed to be in school are loafing around and getting engaged in truancy.

How did we even get here? The question is,  do we want “our children” to really get an education?  Our founding fathers left legacies that we are still all benefiting from, why can’t  we consolidate on providing something much better.

I look at many institutions that had been established over many decades,  structures of these buildings have endured the test of time over the years. Ask our generation and those that are behind to construct an institution that is meant to serve generations yet unborn and we come up with buildings that soon begin to crumble/crash.

Education is one non -negotiable legacy we must continue to give to generation after generation. It should be made affordable and accessible to all. Children should be in school and not on the streets protesting!

Which way Oyo State? Would our public schools become in-affordable to many children and their parents? It is not about what is convenient but about making the right sacrifice now so that we can have a better future.

All Children matter; no matter their level in the social strata

Adebisi Adetunji(C)