Sunday, December 23, 2007


“What will you like to have for Christmas that you know you cannot really have?” Robert, my friend asked.
“Hmm” I thought quietly to myself before replying “A notebook”
“That is easy, you can buy one for yourself” He said.
“Well, that will mean using up a chunk of my savings. Thanks, but no thanks. And you? What will you like to have for Christmas that you know you cannot have?” I asked him.
“To feed all the poor children in Africa ” he replied.
My self-centered wish to buy a new note book and Robert’s generous wish to feed all the poor children in Africa were items on our Christmas wishlist last year. Even though we knew we could not achieve them, we let them on the list anyway. After all, making a Christmas wish is sometimes about asking for the impossible to be made possible. Not everyone believes in Christmas wish, but yet we all make it every year, simply by telling someone, “I wish you a merry Christmas!”
Christmas is a day when some Christians all over the world celebrate the birth of Christ- God’s gift of love to the world. However, the day means different things to different people due to our diverse idiosyncrasies. For some, it is a time to party into the New Year, for others, it is a time to re-unite with family and friends or a time to reflect on life’s issues with an attitude of gratitude to God.
Amidst all the celebration, there are those who would not be celebrating Christmas this year due to poverty. The 25th of December to them will be another day of hunger and despair. Of course, this can change if they make it up on someone’s list this year.
What is on your Christmas list? Does it begin and end with you? Do something different this season by remembering those who are in a lesser position than you. Don’t limit your wish list to things you cannot have. Send cards or gifts to those who’d least expect, say a prayer for the poor and forgotten, buy yourself something expensive and extend the love to others too, spend Christmas with family and friends if you never have! Don’t waste the season worrying about what you cannot have; it will only deter the fun! Be open for God to use you as someone’s answered prayer and see how happier this Christmas will be for you. I’m wishing you and yours a joyous Christmas, may the celebration not end with Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Drawing on the latest scientific studies of adolescents, Lawrence Steinberg, a professor of psychology at Temple University , offers this advice for the parents of teens:

What you do matters: Many parents mistakenly believe that by the time children have become teenagers, there is nothing more a parent can do. Wrong. Studies clearly show that good parenting continues to help teenagers develop in healthy ways, stay out of trouble and do well in school.

You can’t be too loving: Don’t hold back when it comes to pouring on the praise and showing physical affection. There is no evidence that adolescents are harmed by having parents who are unabashedly loving- as long as you don’t embarrass them in front of their friends.

Stay involved: Many parents who were actively involved in their child’s life during the early years withdraw when their child becomes a teenager. This is a mistake. It is just as important for you to be involved now- maybe even more so. Participate in school programs. Get to know your child’s friends. Spend time together.

Adapt your parenting: Many parenting strategies that work at one age stop working at the next stage of development. As children get older for example, their ability to reason improves dramatically, and they will challenge you if what you are asking doesn’t make sense.

Set the limit: the most important thing children need from their parents is love, but a close second is structure. Even teenagers need rules and limits. Be firm but fair. Relax your rules bit by bit as your child demonstrates maturity. If he or she can’t handle the freedom, tighten the reins and try again in a few months.

Foster Independence: Many parents erroneously equate their teenagers drive for independence with rebelliousness, disobedience or disrespect. It’s healthy for adolescent to push for autonomy. Give your children the psychological space they need to learn to be self-reliant and resist the temptation to micromanage.

Explain your decisions: Good parenting has expectations, but in order for your teenager to live up to them, your rules and decisions have to be clear and appropriate. As your child becomes more adapt at reasoning, it is no longer good enough to say “Because I said so”.

Culled from Time, July 7 2004 edition.

Dis Generation!

Have you ever wondered what life was like living in the Stone Age when man lived in caves? Or the Iron Age which was the period in history that led to the agrarian revolution, when man depended a lot on agriculture? Everyone tilled the ground for survival in those days until the development of sophisticated machinery brought about a shift from agriculture to industrialization. The procession of one generation to another brought about a profound change which was perhaps ignited by the desire of a better and easier life. Well, that was for that generation.

I used to complain that this generation has been the most disadvantaged period young people ever tried to live in. An average youth of today lives in quiet desperation; he is increasingly faced with the fear of the future as a result of the short comings of the present that is navigated by economic depression, moral decadence, loss of family values etc.

This information age where technology plays a huge role in making life easy and keep us in the know also indirectly agitate us daily. The invention of new gadgets is making young people materialistic as they clamor for “more”. The cause of increase in youth crime is attributed to the violence they watch on television. Easy access to information on the internet is turning us into a copy and paste generation!

However, it is quite daunty to tell if the difficulties that beset this generation are any worse than those of older generation or is it permissible to believe they passed them all to us? Why do people keep saying the older generation has failed us? It does not matter who we blame, it is this generation that still has to bear the brunt. We all need to take the responsibility to change things for the better by doing the right things in the right way for posterity.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I surrender!

show me a way, a channel,
a route,
through which I could reachout to this hurting world
and wipe out that tears rolling down her cheeks
I know, I know
I must tread only on that part I know well
else I cramp my style with stinking gibberish
My wallet is flat tonight
please don't count on that
Still this urge to belong
an undiluted desire to serve
yearns so loudly I can hold back no more
I surrender
in total submission my heart cry
"use me lover of my soul"
to be a helping hand in my society
to learn to give without asking for anything in return
to be able to influence others into aiming for the best
never to try playing god over my peers
to you my king I obediently surrender
(c)Jennifer Ehidiamen

Going into unfamiliar territory will not destroy your old, comfortable world. Rather, it will expand your world, your vision, your knowledge and your possibilities. The next time you come across a road that you've never traveled -- whether it is an idea, a person, a belief system, or an actual road -- take a side trip and make your world a bigger, more interesting place.

THE BEST IS YET TO COME by God's grace!

Pictures speak 5000 words.....

Dreams and Schemes...

When I was a young girl (now a young lady), I had an overwhelming feeling of the need to do something to make the world a better place. I recently realized that I am not the only person who grew up with such an unusual sense of responsibility neither am I going to be the last.
Everyday around the world, millions of young people go to bed with problems and wake up only to find them still unsolved. However, youths like Jessica Remington, USA; Dayo Israel, Nigeria; Craig Kielburger, Canada, to mention but a few take action through their youth oriented organizations to bring about profound change (not without challenges).
I still meet and hear about other young people full of ideas on how they want to cause a positive turn around on issues they are most passionate about. A colleague intrigued me when he said one day “I cannot solve all the problems in the world but one way I try to solve them is to make sure I am not a problem in and to the world”. I believe that sometimes, the change we really need to affect the world must start with us. Like Gandhi well stated “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. The numerous problems we have in our society will stop duplicating in other forms when we begin to take personal responsibility of putting ourselves in order and do things right.
A practical example is the corruption that poses as one of the major issues bugging our society today. In fact, it is one of the top hindrances of Nigeria's progress. We are quick to blame our government every time the issues is raised, closing our eyes deliberately (or not) against our own flaws. By this, I refer to the students who bribe Lecturers to award marks they never worked for; Parents who bribe off PHCN officials instead of paying their bills; Drivers who drive recklessly without license and police who take bribe from them instead of apprehending them etc.
If our society must change, the change must start with us as individuals. The new strategy I recommend for affecting significant change is to dream big dreams in small ways... a change move faster if we take personal responsibility to live the change and influence others positively to do same. For instance, if you are bugged about the increasing rate of unemployment in Nigeria, use your resources to create job opportunities or advocate for youths to build entrepreneurial skills.
Oprah Winfrey said “A passion should be as natural as breathing”. If your passion for change is as natural as breathing, then be the change you want to see in the world, be excited about living positively

Parent abuse revisited!

Jen: You don't train children you train seals, dolphins and/or Shamu. Apparently you are not living the life of an abused parent; I am, by a 13 year old boy, physically, verbally and emotionally. Why does he hit me do you ask, usually because I tell him to get off the play station or I tell him to get off the computer, believe it or not as simple as that. I have not failed to live up to my responsibility and it has nothing to do with maintaining a good parent-child relationship. It has to do with being a bully and trying to control someone. Parents have nothing to protect themselves and there are no laws for parents to stop their children from abusing them.- Blondie posted on this blog.

The re-visit:

The campaign is set higher. More voices are raised against child abuse. A very important issue organisations like UNICEF hold close to heart. Although so much is being said and done about child abuse, no one dare claim that the issue is overflogged because obviously our society is yet to understand that no child deserves to be abused.How about Parent abuse? Silence. Nobody is talking about parent abuse. Does it really exist? In everyone's lifetime (maybe not everyone?), there have been one or two occassions when we concoiusly or unconciously abuse our parents. Example: when we disrespect our parents or delibrately disobey instructions they give us, this is parent abuse! There are cases where children insult and talk back rudely to their parents. Even worse, older children fight or physically maltreat their parents. Also, expecting parents to always buy the best gifts for us during our birthdays, christmas etc. and never returning such gestures is equal to parent abuse!

Parents who fail to live up to their responsibility to train their children well and maintain a good parent-child relationship risk being abuse in future. Therefore, it is crucial that the 21st century parents rise above the norms, put their feet down and not spare the rod. Parents do not have to get violent or brutal when treating a child who they think is a rebel. I am not a parent yet, but I have a mother with whom I am in good terms with, do not get me wrong, we still have mother-daughter disagreement every now and then but a manageable one! Perhaps, this can be attributed to the fact that when I was growing up as a kid, the rod was not spared.

Blondie is right, so many parents are being abused by their children not because they fail to leave up to their responsibility but perhaps because the relationship they have with their children has been compromised in more ways than one. There are no laws to protect parents from being abused by their children and I doubt if there will be any soon, thus parents need to revisit the kind of relationship they have with their children and mend any fallout. Parents should train-up their children in the way of the Lord and the lines will fall into pleasant places!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A HIV-Free Population!

Is it really possible? Can we have the emergence of a generation that has less of HIV infected people? For this year’s world AIDS day, I did not want to cramp myself in another long seminar with boring speeches (that sometimes leaves me very depress). So I decided to carryout a public opinion poll to find out what most youths think about the possibility of having a HIV-free population.

Majority of those interviewed affirmed that a HIV-free population is possible. They however directed their concern to the need for more dissemination of HIV related information to empower people to protect themselves from being infected. They also emphasized on the need for behavioral change towards the people living with HIV/AIDS. Indeed, if they are given the needed care and support, these people would not want to keep spreading the virus.

Meanwhile, contrary to these views, others who did not believe that a HIV-free population is possible insisted that a 100% HIV-free population is not possible because the youths who are the most vulnerable group do not adhere to the counsel of adults who warn them against exhibiting risky behavior that exposes them to HIV infection.

Information gives the power to be transformed. We all need the right information to keep us abreast on the current trend of HIV/AIDS. For instance, do you know that between 1.7 million and 4.2 million Nigerians are HIV positive and about 1.3 million children have been orphaned by AIDS? Despite the alarming statistics, I personally believe that a HIV-free population is possible if we all play our role to ensure it!

The dream of a HIV-free population in Nigeria begins with you and me. We must all take personal responsibility to know our HIV status, protect ourselves from being infected and stop the stigma against those living with HIV. Afterall, stigma and discrimination is said to be the most significant barrier to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment activities.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Writing with LOVE!

In the spirit of the joyful season that is ushering in another glorious celebration of Christmas, here is sharing with you some of the emails from ardent readers of ‘Dis Generation’. Reading from readers is a pleasurable experience, whether it is a note to say well done or a few lines to criticize the column, I appreciate and respect the fact that some people really take time to respond to what they read and share their views!

Boluwatife wrote: hi Jennies, dis is decoded, I would love to know series of thing about your column in the dailies
Salamatu Ama wrote: hi, I like to you this moment because of the Article you wrote on July 1 2007 about "Gentle wind of change" which was much pleased to my understanding and i would like to befriend you and know much about your publication and much advice concerning how one can become something good in future, how to aim at what you would like to do in future and indeed after thorough research in your article I found my self pleased at how a lady really can become something useful at planning. I would therefore like to befriend you as my penpal. Hope you will reply with love. Thank you.
Tayo Olatunde wrote: Hello, I saw your writing on a news paper, so i decided to say hello to you. I love your writing skills. Keep it up!
Olu'mayowa. A.Adeniran, DEVELOPMENT NEWS NETWORK (DNN) wrote: Jenny, I hail you for interest in DIS GENERATION of ours. Bravo, to a young woman, who believe that our generation shall see and enjoy the prosperity of our forefathers...keep it up buddy. I enjoy your articles in the newspaper 'THE NATION every Sunday. I started following from the article titled ' PRESCRIPTION' edition, that you talked about abortion- who to blame? Individual, society or moral trust? Abortion kills...Wetin be 'ONE CHANCE BAG' Jenny? Na one chance bus i know for Lag! but honestly our young women needs to be more careful as they move around do their things. Man! Nigerian youth are 'WAITING FOR THE GOVERNMENT' to do every bits even bath & feed them. I joined you mostly to start mentoring our youth on thinking creatively because possibility thinkers are the ones on top… like you Jenny.
So keep doing your stuffs, people are watching you and you are impacting them, what we all need is to keep encouraging each other and see to our well-being as we move ' DIS GENERATION' to greater height. Keep the good work.GOD BLESS, NIGERIA
My Response: Thanks guys! Yeah, we will keep our passion burning for positive change and by God’s grace, our efforts shall not be in vain. Hope we all shall indeed keep playing our part well, no matter which way the world turns. A special thank you to Mr Lekan Otunfodunrin, THE NATION, for giving this generation a voice in the media. The best is yet to come!

Friday, November 23, 2007


It has been a long time since I watched a live stage drama, thanks to the busy schedule of my school! However, two weeks ago, I got an opportunity to see a play, one I wrote for a youth group. Basically, the drama was about the decaying system of our educational system. It highlighted all the contributing factors such as government negligence of the education sector, parent negligence of their homes, Parent-teacher bribery at school, violence, cultism, cyber crime and of course teenage prostitution, oh I mean, Aristo!

The scene of cyber crime a.k.a yahoo yahoo evoked laughter among the audience, comprising of youths and parents, I hope we all know that Internet fraud is really a serious form of corruption that is eating deep into this generation. Some attribute it to the sudden quest for wealth among youths but is there no honest way of making money other than defrauding others? Whatever happened to the joy one derives from sweating to achieve honest result?

Another major issue that cannot be over flogged is the one about female students who glory in the fact that they are part-time prostitutes. Here is how the narrator framed it “Oh! Our daughters have left school. Ever heard of the word ‘aristo’? It is coined from aristocrat and it means the beautification of prostitutes. Young girls spend time with lecturers and sugar daddies, their excuse is that they need the sugar daddies for money and lecturers for free marks; all they have to do is pay a little price with their body. What has become of our daughters? ”

Most of these young people think that the only way to survive these days is to celebrate immorality. No longer does corruption hide in the dark shadow, they are everywhere, they even have complimentary cards for easy contact! Have you heard of a parent who wishes her daughter goodluck each time she sets off for ‘school’ and remind her to bring the money home? Money, money money! The lack of it seems to be doing more harm than bad government. Parents have lost their voice and authority over their children because they do not meet up to the financial standard, but is that really a yardstick for measuring parent-child relationship?

Now before you draw my attention to the just concluded Big Brother Africa reality show and to the fact that Richard who despite his promiscuous nature got away with the first prize while Ofunneka, the ‘decent’ and most loved by viewers got nothing, let me ask you, what contribution did you make to ensure Ofunneka emerge winner? Did you make any conscious effort to vote for her? After all, like Edmund Burke said, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing!”

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Global Education for youths!
If you have never taken out time to study a world map, you would probably mistaken the word “Mauritania” (An African country) for a name of a new soft drink, just like someone once asked if Nigeria was a country or another continent besides Africa! There is a popular saying that an average American youth thinks the world begins and end in America. How about we Nigerian youths? How much do we know about the rest of the world? Do we judge others by the situation in Nigeria? How much of global issues are we conversant with? Can we stand with our contemporaries any day to talk these issues without fear or intimidation?
Global Education is having an accurate knowledge of global geography and a personal perspective on how the world works. It entails the ability to understand and intelligently discuss topics which are global in scale. Having a sound knowledge of global issues is as of great importance as knowing about our local issues because to some extent, the knowledge we gain can be usefully applied in solving local issues- no matter how irrelevant it may seem.
Being globally conscious will also enable one learn and work collaboratively with individuals representing diverse culture, religions and backgrounds in the spirit of mutual respect and genuine interest. As our world is becoming more united by electronic communication system, we must thus step up and explore the opportunities this creates to know more about issues outside our primary domain. With just a click of your mouse, you can travel far without worrying about VISA or air ticket!
Global education is one of the indispensable skills of the 21st century youth, know and be in the know so that when next you talk, others will listen with respect. Poverty is no excuse for mediocrity, let us all take up the responsibility and develop our skills to promote inter-cultural understanding to effect positive change! Who knows, this may be the beginning of an emergence of a generation ready to continuously project the good image of Nigeria at global level.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sober Novermber!

November, the 11th month of the year, the month that prompts us to draw out a score sheet to measure how the year has been thus far and giving us a clue of how to take a fire brigade approach if we must, to adjust things/life style before the year runs out or run us down.
The month of November is like being nineteen. At Nineteen you know you are just gone past being a child and on your way to adulthood. But you don’t get the usual euphoria you had at eighteen. Adults see you as a child while children see you as an adult, there you are caught between opinions, but it is how you see yourself that matters most.
Being Nineteen has a sobering effect on one’s life and so does November. It awake that genuine need in us to begin to look at life more seriously, where we stand and ought to be standing. When you look at the past months on the calender, what crosses your mind? Do you measure your life by one of these two criteria- success and failure? If so, then you should not be too much in a hurry to conclude on how well or how bad you have performed this year.
November means, although January to October is gone, you still have the blessings of two months, with possible opportunities to make the best use of what is left of the year 2007. Build on your strength and passion, don’t be afraid to admit your short comings, evaluate the past and learn from your mistakes and success.
It does not matter what page you are on, take out time to thank God for the gift of life! Envision your future, gather momentum, crawl, walk, or take a leap to get there but don’t let your dreams slip through your fingers unaccomplished!


The Latter Rain Assembly, Pastored by Tunde Bakare, a frontline Tele-Evangelist is to organise a leadership programme for youths across Nigeria to help them preapre for leadership role in Nigeria. The 3-day programme tagged “The Future Leaders Congress” was conceived as a result of the fact that the quality of every Nation's leadership determines the quality and advancement of the Nation. Hence, the destiny of any country lies in the development of visionary and servant leaders because everything rises and falls on leadership.
Since independence, Nigeria has lacked servant and visionary leaders. Thus, this has adversely affected her value system, economy, political system as well as the spiritual climate of the country. In view of this, on November 1st to 3rd 2007, The Latter Rain Assembly, through its youth-arm called Legacy Youth Fellowship with support from Pastor Tunde Bakare will be organizing this 3-day national leadership training programme with the aim of salvaging the decadence in the church and the Nation.
According to the Youth Pastor, Rotimi Oyekunle, the main objective of the programme is to raise servant and visionary leaders for the church, the market place and the Nation by empowering them with sound and effective Kingdom doctrine and skills that will enable them raise kingdom standards in their domain of influence.
Pastor Rotimi revealed that the vision of the programme in the heart of the serving overseer of the church, Pastor Tunde Bakare, is to groom, prepare, nurture and release young people to fulfill destiny. “we should all be concerned about the future because we would have to spend the rest of our lives there” he said.
The youth Pastor further explained that the future leaders congress is also geared to raise servant and visionary leaders who know the heart of God. “During the congress, there will be an impartation that will prepare youths to take leadership position for the future. It will be an opportunity for youths to take action and embrace responsibility for change. Nigeria will never change if we do not accept the responsibility to change it” he added.
Meanwhile, the activities of the event which is scheduled to take place from 6pm daily at the church auditorium in Ogba includes plenary-teaching session, seminars, exhibition, music concert etc. The programme is targeted at youths from all works of life- Churches, Schools, Youth groups, Corporate and Public Organization.
The Legacy Youth fellowship is a body of vibrant and destiny-oriented youths of the Latter Rain Assembly, comprising of young people from ages 13 and above, who are not married. The fellowship has a mission to nurture a company of cohesive youths for dynamic leadership with responsibility and resourcefulness for the purpose of carrying forward the purpose of the kingdom of heaven on earth.

Hello friend!

...Phew! wat a ride that has been... oh I mean, I just finished my second semester! life training as a Journalist has not been easy as its spelling...but am glad...because in the long run it will pay off by God's grace. Nigerian Institute of Jorunalism is a cool place to be! Okay, so now I have got a week holiday before I run off for my internship training now... thankfully, this should be a lot more flexible...hehehe.

I'm still on the One World youth project board, doing my best to make the world a better place, still writing the weekly youth column on THE NATION newspaper... yeah, Dis Generation has come to stay! lol. Thanks to Mr. Lekan Otunfodurin who gave me the rare opportunity to run the column :) We should have more adults like him! God Bless you Sir!

Looking forward to the best which is yet to come! Until then, I choose to keep winning by righteousness! God dey!!!

Meery Christmas in advance friends!!


Going into unfamiliar territory will not destroy your old, comfortable world. Rather, it will expand your world, your vision, your knowledge and your possibilities. The next time you come across a road that you've never traveled -- whether it is an idea, a person, a belief system, or an actual road -- take a side trip and make your world a bigger, more interesting place.

Morning Ritual!

Do you have a particular ritual you carry out every morning before you set out for the day's business? By this I mean any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner. It could be a chant you have to recite, a book you have to read, a drug you have to take, a person you have to see... etc. As for me, aside dragging myself out of bed at 4'o clock in the morning (weekdays), having my morning devotion and doing my daily chores, I recently realized that there is a peculiar morning ritual I carry out as a boost of confidence, a good antidote for any weakness.
After I have dressed up for the day, I usually spend about three minutes or so in front of the mirror to examine my look. At this point, 100% of my attention is on what I am wearing and how I look in them. I ask myself: am I dressed in a way I would like to be addressed today? If I should bump into Hilary Clinton (lol) on my way out, will I make a good first impression with my looks? Will the Commissioner of Police's boys find me worthy for their fashion police crew to arrest for indecent dressing? Do I look well prepared to meet any opportunity God sends my way today?
It is not that I am one of those fashionister of the 21st century, no not at all. I wear anything that suits the occasion as long as I am comfortable in them. However, my Penchant for decent dressing is growing by the day, thus I equally enjoy advocating for the need for us youths to imbibe a good dress culture, and continue to dress for success, whatever the weather. We shouldn't allow just anything or anyone dictate how we dress. Be conscious of your dress dress sense well enough to avoid wearing a low waist jeans that exposes everything a normal jeans ought to cover. Guys in this case are not left out of the absurd dress sense we youths sometimes exhibit.
Now back to the focus of discussion, my mirror serves me well in carrying out the ritual because it does not hold back any opinion. I see clearly what needs to be seen as long as the light illuminates it well. Forgetting to carry out this ritual is like a farmer who goes to the farm without any farm tools or like a driver who wants to drive a car without his keys. Although I still succeed in living out the day, it sure is never the same. Anyway, what is your own ritual? It could be an evening ritual, for instance, something you do every night before you go to bed. It could also involve as many people as possible. All the same, whatever your ritual is, keep it tasteful (positive) and unique.


"Candidates are not allowed to talk in the examination hall" is one of the famous rules we get during exam. Can one really do without talking during an exam? It can be just to ask your seat partner if she can decode one of the questions you don't understand or being a goody-two-shoes, telling others around you the answers to certain questions. However, for such kind act, thousands of students have been embarrassed, disqualified or worse, arrested during a major examination. In the eyes of the invigilator, you broke one of the rules- you were caught cheating!

I won't really say I am not guilty of talking during an exam, or better explained, I am learning how to break this habit of whispering during exam. I met a group of students who have been obeying the rule of "no talking" and guess what? They also happen to be the best in their class. Although some of their mates think them impossible people who do not want to share what they know with others, but they say they are happy to share their knowledge as long as it is done before examination commence. They don't have to stand the risk of falling into depression at the end of the day when those who ask get better result due to their expertise in combining effort- what they know+what you told them = better marks.

What an admirable standard to emulate! But of course one have to work extra hard to keep up such standard. Most people believe examination is not a true test of one's knowledge, but obeying simple rules does not start and end in the exam hall. It builds one's confidence, character and earn you respect. Moreover, at the end of the day, you are able to accurately measure how good or bad your attempt is in a do-it-yourself exam... so remember to obey the golden rule when next your sit for your next test or exam- NO talking!

Friday, October 19, 2007


If you were to meet a friend of a different Nationality for the first time, what place would you suggest you hang out? Well, that was the responsibility I was entrusted with last week and for a minute, I found it really overwhelming. A friend of mine told me about his friend who was new in Lagos , since I grew up in Lagos ; he thought I would be a sensible companion for his friend. Our agreement to meet a few times failed due to the nature of her job until last Thursday, which was thankfully declared a public holiday.

Consequently, I sent her an SMS to ask where she would like to hangout… Silverbird Cinema, Beach, City mall or National Museum were some choice places I mentioned. And to my surprise, she replied my text choosing National Museum and City Mall over the rest. It is not that the others were not a great place to hangout, however, National Museum did sound more interesting because it was 100% different from the rest of them. So there is a tip on what young people like: Young people like things that are different, especially if it does make them feel different and think different. For instance, hanging out in a place like National Museum will sure get you to think more deeply about life after seeing all those artistic display!

Now, our next place of call was the City Mall, the beauty about this is that my friend chose the place without knowing it was directly beside the National Museum. So there we were, moving aimlessly from one shop to another, pretending to be one of the shoppers who were taking their time to look around before making a purchase. It didn’t really matter if others knew we were window shopping, the fact remained that we were having a nice time by just doing that! Now there is another fact about what young people like to do: Young people like to chill out and engage in things that don’t place a financial demand on them. Don’t get me wrong, there are obviously a few young people out there who get fulfillment by spending the money they do not have.

Young people also like things that cheer them up. That is why you will find more young people watching MTV base over some home video. Why do you think children like to have clowns like Teletubbies at their parties? To cheer them up of course! It sure adds color to the event. Every interesting and lively thing is good stimulus for young people. Some young people also love to do drugs. I don’t exactly know why they do it or what they derive from doing it... What ever it is you like as a young person, make sure it is something that adds value to you... Don’t just attract what you think you deserve, attract nothing but the best!

Is there still Dignity in YTINIGRIV?

What should we make of a society where sex sell more than anything else, where prostitution is branded with euphemistic names like "Aristos" and "Sugar Daddy" and nympho now openly call those who are not "too naive to be counted in"? Have you come across the wallpaper that reads "Virginity is not dignity but lack of opportunity"? how much truth lie in those words?

Many young people are beginning to think the issue of abstaining from sex until one's marriage night is gradually loosing its popularity vote in this generation due to societal norms. But we can't blame the society in its totality for the hype about accepting pre-marital sex as part of its norm, at least if parents, who are part of the society, were playing their role well in being a child's first educator on such issues, no amount of pressure from their peers will be able to derail their social values.

For instance, a child begins to read romance novels at the age of seven and his/her parents applaud such decision, "it will help you embellish your English" they say. Then at the age of fourteen, with no parents in sight, the child is motivated by his/her peers to try out the sensous act those novels have talked so much about. It is not a pregnant teenage daughter or a HIV positive son that eventually wakes the Parents to the reality of their failure but the knowledge of how much their "baby" has lost his or her innocence.

The moral decadence in the society today cannot be only blamed on the Parent's lack of interest in their children's activities, the media's power to casually disseminate X-rated movies under the auspices of Parental guidance or the Priest who do not directly address the youths on such issues for fear of it driving them away from Chapel... but also on our lack of taking personal responsibility!

Sometimes it does not really matter how much advice we get, we have a way of doing only what seems right in our own eyes. Thus, the decision to remain a Virgin until after marriage is a choice no one can make for us. But for those who have been deflowered or who are nymphomaniac in nature, I advice you seek professional and godly counsel. There is still dignity in Zipping up 24/7. Make that decision today and stand out of the one else can make it for you!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Do something for Nigeria at 47...

Do something...for Nigeria at 47!
Please turn off the TV/radio and shut out all the noise around you... and thank God for Nigeria just the way things are! We will be celebrating Nigeria at 47 come October 1st. Hurray! For yet another opportunity this independence anniversary to count our blessings. Yeah, we should not spend that day counting our loses, but instead channel our energy towards thanking God for 47 things about Nigeria, draw up an agenda of how to improve Nigeria in 47 areas of your choice and perhaps congratulate other Patrotic Nigerians and tell them 47 more reasons on why they should keep equiping themselves with what is needed to move forward. Obviously, 47 is not the end of the race... the best is yet to come!
In this same atmosphere of gearing up for October 1st independence celebration, think of the following as ways we can build our commitment to the development of this country at any level:
More creativity: As we all know, some issues affecting Nigeria seems to be taking more complicated turn, thus the need for us in this generation to begin to think deelpy and create innovative ideas that will tackle such challenges. While others are moaning about the state of affairs, we should be thinking and acting on how to help solve the issues so we don't end up compounding the problem.
Civic Literacy: As citizens of this country, it is not enough to exercise our rights and fulfill obligations without fear or favour. We must all continually equip ourselves with the basic knowledge of what is happening in government or how else can we hold them accountable on issues affecting the youths if we do not know anything they are up to? Moreover, since we do not want to grow into a generation that talk out of context or criticise the government out of ignorance, it is vital that we have a willingness and ability to participate effectively in government- we do not need a ministerial position to do that!
Communication: This is not about appraising the GSM network, but about our ability to let go of our strong hold on ethnicity/tribalistic mindset. It is appaulling that so many people still discriminate against others just because they are from an ethnic group different from theirs. As a true Nigerian, we should learn to stand on a common ground of the understanding of the beauty that is in our diveristy. We should freely relate with one another irrespective of their culture and analyze or articulate our thoughts and ideas with mutual respect.
In essence, we should all be committed to doing something for Nigeria because indirectly we are also improving our lives and the lives of others. We can't develop Nigeria if the people are underdeveloped with no passion or drive for the future. We should not let the world move on without us...Happy 47th independence anniversary Nigerians! Think and act in a fresh way this new season. Be empowered and equiped with skills and attitude needed to serve Nigeria with all your might and a compassionate heart!

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Do you think people still listen to the chirping of the birds in the morning or the musical whistling of crickets at night in a world where everyone seems to be caught up in the rat race? Well if like me, you live in the countryside where birds still perch on window pane, and crickets hide in grasses growing on the side walk, you will certainly be forced to acknowledge their existence and listen to their musical notes.
I live in a town called Akute, a small community often referred to as the boarder between Lagos and Ogun State. Many people are oblivious of the fact that 70% of the people who reside in this town make their living in Lagos and only come home in the evenings (late at night sometimes, thanks to the traffic jam) to unwind.
Apparently on week days, the town comes awake as early as 4am. Waking up early is one of the most active vaccine against the insufferable traffic congestion that mounts upon the narrow road and the only sensible route that connects Akute to Ojodu (an area in Lagos) every morning. Thus fathers, mothers, children-including babies resign to the fate of keeping up this routine of waking up early, whatever the weather or mood.
However, this morning and for the first time, I noticed that the beauty of Akute doesn't just stop with the chirping of the birds, the whistling of the crickets or the calm breeze that blows peacefully through the streets. As I looked out through the side mirror of the bus I was traveling in, I noticed the beautiful line the vehicles trapped in the traffic jam has formed. The ones in front were a sight for sad eyes. The break light of each vehicles twinkled in the dark of the early morning and together, they formed a trail of red shadows trickling through the road.
As if offended by my admiration of this sight, a danfo bus broke out of the lane and another followed impatiently, driving towards the opposite lane and disrupting the normal flow of vehicles. Before I could spell 'Jack', the narrow road was thrown into Chaos as everyone wanted to move at the same time. Angry drives cursed as they hoot their horn non-stop to express their frustration.
The seconds ran into minutes, still we were almost at the same spot. I checked my wristwatch, it was 7.25am. The once cool atmosphere now seems tensed. The only vehicles that were moving were the ones driving against the traffic, the ones that stayed on the legal lane barely moved. “Driver, you no go follow them?” one of the passengers moaned, pointing to the other drivers who confidently broke the traffic law and other passengers grunted and murmured in approval. The driver however stayed put, he was not about to let the desperation of passengers drive him into trouble of breaking the law- is there any out there?


We are calling on the government to come to our aid...” or “we are waiting for the government to come and help us resolve this problem...” How often have you heard any of the above statements? It might have been in the news last night, or someone just murmured it in the bus you took this morning. Yes, almost everyone in Nigeria likes to wait for the government for this and that. What kind of government, perhaps those that make legislations, the elected leaders of the people?

There is nothing wrong in depending on the government, however, think about this for a minute: A trailer fell into a ditch, fortunately, no one is hurt, but the trailer is badly crushed. People gather at the scene and as if on a planned mission, everyone starts blaming one person- no not the sober driver still in his drunken state, but the government. They all spend the next 30 minutes moaning about how bad the Nigerian government has been and how democracy is doing no good. Then with a heavy sigh, someone calls on President Yar'adua to come to their aid. And do what? Maybe to come and spank the driver for driving while drunk and give him module 101 lessons on the danger of reckless driving or to mobilize local brick layers to build a barricade between the main road and the ditch.

Do you agree that 80% of the problems we most times blame on the government can be avoided if we all take personal responsibility for our actions? For instance, a baby falls off his mother's back and the father blames it on the government, a student fails an examination and blames it on the system etc. instead of learning from the situation and build on a better principle.

Another issue that baffles me is the recent call being made to the government to re-introduce “fashion police” and arrest indecently dressed ladies. I would recommend that the policy be extended to include arresting the parents of the youths for allowing their children or wards walk around half naked. Where is the power of parental responsibility gone?

Nigeria is still rated one of the richest country in Africa...including in human resources, yet a large percent of Nigerians suffer from poverty of the mind. This has reflected on the way we depend on government to do things we can easily do or achieve on our own. We should start thinking creatively on how we can tackle local issues that affect the Nation and not just wait for the government for petty issues when they are yet to succeed in solving the big matters.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

You and the bag you carry...

Have you ever wondered about the origin of handbags? Handbags have been essential to fashion history ever since people have had something precious to carry around with them and only the items have changed over time. I started a conversation in my class recently about items we carry in our bags, partly out of boredom and partly out of curiosity of wanting to know what a few of my classmates carry around in their bags. For instance, one of them has a very small bag which we call “One chance bag” because of its ridiculous size. However, the bag may be small but it sure has the unique skill of hiding precious goodies in it. One day she exclaimed “You won’t believe it take almost an hour to find anything in this small bag”!

Asking another classmate what was the most precious item in her bag, she said her bible, only to whisper later there was none in her bag. Other items the rest of the discussants stated as most important in their bags include: Radio transistor- to keep entertainment going while on the go, wallet- holds cash and necessary contacts and ID card, midget- can never tell where you will meet the news, notebooks-can’t risk recopying class notes, MP3-holds important music and documents files, Digital camera-to take record of important moments etc. Although the above listed were individual’s most important items, imagine one bag carrying all of them? Now who ever carry such bag will have to stay conscious and keep the bag close 24/7 so as not to fall victim of bag snatchers…

My friend went out one day only to come back home without her bag. If the bag had been snatched by pickpockets, then the story will be easier to tell. According to her, she went to see one of her familiar stranger-friend, while they were taking a walk, he suggested to hold her bag… a little distraction and phew! Neither the bag nor the guy was any where to be found. That was how she lost her two phones, ATM card, other IDs etc. to this smart thief. Can you beat that?

Bags in the past were used to show status - the richer the person, the more elaborate the bag. What does the bag you carry say about you? You can never tell who is watching you open your bag, or who wants to make friends because of the kind of bag you carry, all the same, stay alert and keep your bag clean.

The Prescription

The buzz on my friend's phone has just startled me back to the reality of teenage pregnancy. She received a text from an old friend requesting for a prescription of a drug for abortion. Will it surprise you to hear that my friend is neither a nurse nor a pharmacist? Yet her friend was really depending on her help to sort out her problem. I can imagine the person sitting at the other end waiting patiently or impatiently for an answer that will enable her evacuate the baby forming in her womb.
There is no denial that girls (not women) are getting pregnant. Perhaps you know someone who is struggling with the challenges of being a Teenage Mother. As you read this article, another young girl is going through depression while trying to figure out whether to tell or just opt for abortion, ignorant of the danger it holds in its clutches.
Most girls often take abortion as the easiest way to escape taking responsibility for their action. This article however is not to give statistics of the number of girls getting pregnant or start up another social debate on the right or wrong of abortion. The bottom line is, these things are happening, how can the government, you and I take charge and help tackle the issue in our society?
Tackling Teenage pregnancy should be central to government to prevent or reduce infant mortality, child poverty and other related issues in our society. Prioritize a comprehensive sex and relationship education in our school curriculum even at primary school level...catching them young is a vital key. Also, government at local level should create a welfare grant for poor teenage mothers to enable them support themselves, thus reducing poverty. Building a well resourced youth information center at all levels where well trained counselors will also be positioned to address social issues affecting the young people can easily be achieved by partnering with corporate bodies and other NGOs working with youths. Providing things to do and places to go for young people to develop themselves will keep them occupied and away from trouble!
Meanwhile, the Parents can also play their role by ensuring their home is being built on good moral values. There is also a need for modern parents to cut down on activities that compete with family time and get interested in what their children are doing in life because the fundamental development of every child has a lot to do with his family. The society also must stop the social exclusion of Teenage mothers since majority of teenagers who opt for abortion do so out of fear of what people will say! We as young people should learn to minimize activities that expose us to compromising position, in simple words... delete activities that add no value to you and avoid hanging out with the wrong crowd since all it brings is trouble.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cheer up guys!

The guys in my class almost set the school on fire last week with their burning anger. Well, the gist is that our first semester result was released on Monday and the reason why they were angry is because girls came tops in all the courses. They were not comfortable because girls are taking lead, and worse, they felt some of the girls who failed to fail use what they have to ensure that they succeeded (in a nutshell, some girls sleeping with lecturers to get better grades). It is a hilarious that guys usually jump into this weak conclusion anytime ladies seems to perform better than them in any level or at any setting. “Well, its because she is a girl...”.

I still do not understand why it is part of the human nature to tie so much relevance to someone's gender each time an issue is raised. During this year's international youth day conference, the facilitator asked the youth participants if they believe women will be better leaders in Nigeria...and as usual, we had a good number of the ladies shouting “yes”, a better number of the guys shouting “no”, while the quiet voice of some guys said “yes”. Now I ask, what has gender got to do with leadership role? It is not in our place to tie any sentiment to giving women responsibilities just because they are that- women.

Prof. Dora Akunyili, Dr. Okonji Iweala and Obiageli Ezekwesili to mention but a few are respectable women in Nigeria going about their business and making great impact ...but I doubt that the level they have attained is as a result of their gender. They have paid the price of developing themselves (and still doing just that to keep up-to-date) and today, they are getting the result we would all get if we do the same. It is not all about “Because they are women!”

We need to unlearn the thinking that gender have more to do with how far we go in life, if not we will find ourselves being limited and become a more grumpy generation. Millennium Development Goal 3 states: Promote Gender equality and empower women. Period. Not, from hence forth, men should become threatened because women are rising to take the lead. I do not blame my classmates for being so angry because girls are taking the lead in class, however, I hope they don't dwell on that posture of bitterness for too long and fail to study, if not, come next exam, they will still be where they are while girls keep blazing the trail!
Our society need people who are ready to take up responsibility because of their ability to tackle issues and effect change, not empty vessels lauding they should be given a chance to show what people of their gender can do! The next time you meet someone feeling intimidated by their gender or gender of others, please pass on this message, “Cheer up, life goes beyond the nature of your thingy. It is more about the stuff you are made of!”.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Parent Abuse!

The campaign is set higher. More voices are raised against child abuse. A very important issue organisations like UNICEF hold close to heart. Although so much is being said and done about child abuse, no one dare claim that the issue is overflogged because obviously our society is yet to understand that no child deserves to be abused.

How about Parent abuse? Silence. Nobody is talking about parent abuse. Does it really exist? In everyone's lifetime (maybe not everyone?), there have been one or two occassions when we concoiusly or unconciously abuse our parents.

Example: when we disrespect our parents or delibrately disobey instructions they give us, this is parent abuse! There are cases where children insult and talk back rudely to their parents. Even worse, older children fight or physically maltreat their parents. Also, expecting parents to always buy the best gifts for us during our birthdays, christmas etc. and never returning such gestures is equal to parent abuse!

The calibre of people children hang out with contributes to the level of ways they abuse their parents. When some children see their peers dressed in the latest fashion, play with expensive toys and spend more money, they tend to come home and demand for more without considering their parent's capability. In cases where parents fail to meet up to their expectation, these children become resentful and bitter towards their parents, thus they start wishing someone else's parent was their parent.

In a nutshell, parent abuse occur when children abuse their space, demand for more without appreciation, rebel, disobey, insult or physically harm their parents causing them emotional pain or distress. It is imperative for every child to think well of himself and conciously adopt a positive attitude towards his parents and encourage their friends to do same.

Parents who fail to live up to their responsibility to train their children well and maintain a good parent-child relationship risk being abuse in future. Therefore, it is crucial that the 21st century parents rise above the norms, put their feet down and not spare the rod.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


A friend of mine once went for a programme where he happened to be the youngest participant, all the others were adults. After the first phase of the workshop, the facilitator asked if anyone had any comment or questions. My friend raised his hand but to his embarrassment, he was asked to put his hand down. “You are young, what do you know?” the facilitator asked laughably.

Is the syndrome of “young people should be seen and not heard” still in existence in this generation? Young people have valuable contributions to make to our society and must be given a voice that should be respected and incorporated into policies that affect the youths. In words of Kofi Anan, the former UN Secretary-General, a society that cuts itself from its youth serves its lifeline, but a society that engages their interest, enlists their talents and librates their energies bring hope to the entire world.

To be able to act effectively, young people need to be more sensitive to their environment and actively participate in activities that would develop their skills. Perhaps, if only the facilitator earlier mentioned had known that young people know a lot of things, he would not have restricted the young participant from sharing his views.

To let the youths be heard, we must not stop at only recognizing their freedom of speech or expression; it also includes giving them opportunities to participate in decision-making processes that affect them at all levels- home, school, government etc. and creating the forum, trust and responsibility to take action as a way of expressing their passion and dream for the future. Some youths who engage in frivolous activities such as internet scam, aristo and other delinquency do just that because they have nothing else they can engage their time fruitfully.

So much work still needs to be done in re-orientating our youths. The introduction of youth development ministry is a good way of starting up; having a youth development fund is a bonus that must be applauded. However, real action needs to be taken! Our education system needs to be refurbished, young people need to be given more opportunities to grow and have reasons to trust the government and the society they live in...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

IYD 2007...Don't be left out!

All over the world, young people will be organizing different events to mark this year’s international youth day. Some will be organizing rallies, others will lobby parliament, sign petition, and some will make it entertainment event with sensible message, while others will take it all to God in prayer! The theme for this year’s celebration is “Be seen, be heard: Youth Participation for development”. So what plans have you made for August 12? Being a day declared as international youth day (IYD) by UN General Assembly, it is recommended that public information activities be organized to promote better awareness of youth development issues.
The first IYD was commemorated on 12 August 2000 . Former Secretary-General Kofi Anan called for governments to become more responsive to the aspirations of youth for a better world. Also in his message that day, Kofi Anan pointed out that in order for youth to deal effectively with the impact of globalization on their lives; they must start preparing for the future immediately and not wait for Governments to tell them what to do.
This means, we shouldn’t just raise issues we want government to respond to but also be looking out how we as young people can contribute to solving these issues. We are to look into directing our passion and dream for the future into being relevant and critically analyzing our role and maximizing our problem solving skills.
Talking about skills, do you know you can also acquire new ones just by taking part in the event? For instance, last year, I joined some of youth volunteers and young leaders in organising a two-days event to mark the day...with the support of British Council and Voluntary Service Overseas of course. The theme was "Tackling Poverty together" and the event focused on giving youths practical skills in tackling poverty through lectures, idea sharing and skill acquisition session. It was during one of the lectures that I learnt that majority of Nigerians are not really poor, they just suffer from poverty of the mind!
It is amazing how much I learnt just by getting involved. The responsibilities bestowed on us as youth organisers was overwhelming, but with the sincere support and encouragement for our adult partners, it was worthwhile burning out sweat over a fruitful course. So as we acted and didn't allow ourselves to be acted upon, we sharperned our organising and facilitation skills. We also were able to Network with key stakeholders and other youths from all over Nigeria . Some of those who were at the event were really impacted, at least, I know one person who will be marking this year's IYD in his community as a result of what he learnt during IYD 2006.
This year’s international youth day will give youths in a thousand and one opportunities to reflect and take action on issues that they are most passionate about. You shouldn’t allow the norms to suppress your enthusiasm, use your voice appropriately, be seen and be heard. If you haven’t decided how to celebrate the day, team up with others who have, join local youth groups in your community to take action, after all collaboration is a sure way to affect a significant change!

Street talk: Youths and HIV/AIDS

The Millennium Development goal six, which is to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, targets to have halted by 2015, and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS. How can this be fully achieved if a great number of young people at risk are still being left alone to swim in the ocean of ignorance? There is a vital need for organizations to begin to recognize that the best and most effective way of reaching out to young people is to train some young people and empower them by providing adequate skills and resources necessary to reach their peers.
Since the HIV and AIDS epidemic began, over 60 million people have been infected with HIV and more than 20 million have died of AIDS. Despite wide-ranging interventions to curtail its further spread and to mitigate the impact of its effects, there are around 16 000 new infections each day and at the crux of the epidemic are young people, accounting for over 50% of this daily toll. That is why young people are and must be at the centre of action on HIV/AIDS1. Quoting The UN secretary-general Kofi Anan: Young people are the key to the fight against AIDS. By giving them the support they need, we can empower them to protect themselves against the virus. By giving them honest and straightforward information, we can break the circle of silence across all society. By creating effective campaigns for education and prevention, we can turn young people’s enthusiasm, drive and dreams for the future into powerful tools for tackling the epidemic.
Young People must make themselves available for capacity building opportunities that will enable them take positive action in mitigating the impact of HIV in their community. Today, several organizations like Journalists Against AIDS, a media resource centre on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria have set-up Youth Internship Programme to empower youths to take up the leading role in the fight against HIV and AIDS and commit themselves to engaging in activities that will contribute to the emergence of a HIV free youth population.
Young people are at greater risk when:
v Access to clear and non-judgmental information about sexually transmitted disease is difficult and restricted.
v Confidential HIV testing and counseling to find out if they are infected are unavailable or not adapted.
v They lack the power to refuse unwanted or unprotected sex, within and outside marriage
v Sexual orientation or behaviour is concealed as a result of social, cultural, religious or legal prohibitions
v Local communities reject people living with HIV and AIDS and as a result secrecy becomes the norm2

A-Z of HIV and AIDS for Young People

A: Avoid pre-marital/casual sex
B: Be faithful to your spouse
C: Consistent condom use with your partner
D: Don’t share Sharp Objects like razors, Clippers, Needles, and syringes etc.
E: Encourage and care for People Living with HIV and AIDS
F: Feasible HIV campaign ideas should be shared with the right people and not shun
G: Get tested and know your HIV status
H: HIV does not kill
I: Insist on sterilized clippers and other sharp objects if you must share
J: Just don’t ignore simple safety measures
K: Kick against stigmatizing people living with HIV (PLWH)
L: Learn how to live happily and stay alive even if you are HIV positive
M: Make HIV treatment available and affordable for PLWH by advocating for them
N: No knowledge is a waste; learn new facts about HIV today.
O: Operating an “I don’t care attitude” puts you at risk of being infected
P: Protect yourself and protect others by living responsibly.
Q: Question HIV issues and policy is you are in doubt
R: Remember HIV and AIDS are two different things
S: Sex education is a topic you must never shy away from
T: Talk to a trained and experienced counselor for more information about HIV
U: Underestimating your chances of contracting HIV with risk behaviour is risky
V: Verify your first HIV test result by taking another test
W: With media support, accurate information about HIV can be effectively disseminated
X: Xerox A-Z of HIV and AIDS to other young people
Y: Yes! We can have an emergence of a HIV free youth population if we work together
Z: Zipping up is still the most effective & reliable way of Protecting yourself from HIV.
In the fight against HIV and AIDS, Young people should not fold their hands and seat back to watch the future move on without them. They should get involve and self-develop themselves by keying into the numerous positive opportunities and wide range of information made available locally and internationally.

From Birmingham to Jos, Youths unite against AIDS

September 19th 2005 , nine young Nigerians and a supervisor flew to the United Kingdom with so much excitement brewing within them. For all of them, being a part of the Global Xchange was a rare opportunity they counted themselves privilege to be part of, having successfully passed the thorough selection process and pre-departure training exercise held in Abuja prior to their traveling.
The purpose of their Journey was to take part in an international Volunteering programme organized by the Volunteering Service Oversea (VSO) in partnership with British Council and Life Vanguard. An exchange designed to bring together young people from different cultures and backgrounds to make a practical contribution to local communities. Young people from different countries ( Nigeria and United Kingdom ) are given a rare and unique opportunity to work together, to develop and share valuable skills.
The nine young Nigerians on arriving Birmingham met other nine British counterparts. After being given an in-country orientation by the country management team, they were introduced to their host home in pair. The weeks that followed saw the young volunteers actively engaging themselves in series of training and activities with a close supervision of their two Adult supervisors (1 Nigerian and 1 British). In counterpart pair, the global xchange team spent three months in Birmingham living in different host homes, working in different organizations such as AB+, Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), Omincare, St Basils, Time Bank, Freshwinds, ACCR, BRAP, Birmingham Focus on Blindness, and Groundwork. They also carried out some community activity work on theme of HIV/AIDS.
Although the experience was filled with a lot of hard work, the volunteers also had so much fun living and working in Birmingham and learning about each other’s culture. They made out time to take part in the Black History month in Liverpool, participated in the Trade Union’s mass lobby where they met and spoke with some of their counterparts’ MPs on the issue of Trade Justice. They also organized a car-wash fund raising event where they raised 600 pounds for the Asian earthquake victims. Another very significant event that took place during the Xchange was the World AIDS day. Global Xchange Volunteers working in HIV organizations created a forum where other volunteers could actively participate in helping out to organize the event. High schools and colleges were contacted for permission to distribute IEC materials and inform students about HIV and AIDS. This did not come off easily though as out of 30 schools contacted, only 3 responded (strict rules guiding sexual health talk in High schools in U.K?).
December 1, the city centre of Birmingham witnessed an interruption as volunteers spread themselves across the street. While some busied themselves giving out red ribbons, others took a bold step to stop people to give a little talk about World AIDS day and HIV and AIDS. At around 6pm, people assembled at the cathedral to join in the candle light vigil organized by HIV organizations and world AIDS day committee in Birmingham to honour people living with HIV who have passed on and encourage those living with the Virus. True stories and experiences were shared in the course of the evening. It was a packed filled event.
December 12th 2005, the eighteen young volunteers found themselves in Abuja (not really, they actually flew British Airways). Another round of In-country Orientation was given by the Nigerian Management team to wake the Nigerians volunteers about the fact that they were back home and relief the British volunteers of any culture shock they might be having.
Jos was their primary place of assignment, so with a welcome party held at the Gbong gwom’s palace (in U.K the welcome party was at the Mayor’s), everyone settle into their respective host homes, ready to have a reciprocal phase in Nigeria, Still on the theme of HIV and AIDS. Volunteers spent about 8 hours a day working in organizations like PRTV, YARAC, OPTIONAIDS, SPRINGS OF LIFE, FAITH ALIVE, INTER GENDER, INTERCEPT and MASSHIAH FOUNDATION.
The community impact in the Nigeria phase was massive, as community activities included a HIV rally, a road safety seminar followed by a rally, a dormitory painting project in an orphanage on Zaria road, a HIV drama organized by some volunteers in collaboration with Jos Prison Inmates and Jos prison officers/controller, a skill acquisition session with the female inmates (they were taught how to make candle, batik etc), recognizing the need for young people not to be left to swim in the ocean of ignorance, they did an educational project which reached about 300 students in secondary schools who were encouraged to take action on issues that are of major concern to them, teaching them step by step plans on how to go about it.
The programme enabled the young volunteers to gain valuable skills and experience, while achieving international understanding and inter-cultural awareness. The beauty and pain in working in a team (eighteen people) was well felt by Volunteers. Life long friends were made within the team, host home, work placements and host communities. Careers were changed as some volunteers developed a keen interest in volunteerism, community development work and related issues.
Most importantly the city of Birmingham and Jos will never be the same again due to the little drops of significant impact the Global Xchange Youths made during the six-months volunteering programme through project initiatives. While living in Nigeria, some of the British volunteers confessed that Nigeria was a lot better-off than they anticipated as one of them thought Nigeria was all rural, likewise the Nigerians discovered U.K to be as organized as they expected (thanks to the fact that their government care about the least in the society) but was shocked to see it was not all rosy and honey. The Global Xchange 2 as they are fondly called indeed rounded up their activities with a debrief session after which the British volunteers flew back to the U.K and the Nigerian volunteers went back to their different communities, all with a different mind-set; better informed global citizens committed to working for a positive change.
Nigerian youth participation should be encouraged in all organisations. As only empowered youths can make a positive difference.