Thursday, June 24, 2010

How to cope before graduation (3)

Dabesaki Mac-Ikemenjima is currently studying for a Masters in Development Studies and looking to commence a PhD in the same field later this year. His involvement in the youth movement was inspired by a genuine personal concern about the rate of unintended pregnancies in his community. “That concern fit properly with my career goals because I wanted to become a guidance counselor.”

Growing up in Nigeria, he was actively involved educating community about sexuality issues, which was like practicing group counseling sessions. “It was quite challenging to travel for so many days within semester period as a student. However, I tried to keep up pace by traveling along with textbooks and relying sometimes on online tools to study.”

The new media enabled him develop useful tools for online counseling service using instant messaging to target those who would not ordinarily want to talk to a physical counselor due to the gravity of their problems. “What this did was that it allowed anonymity and clients could create pseudo email accounts for the sessions and thus use pseudo names. It was quite a useful tool and I effectively enjoyed both the school world and the work world through this medium”

“I do not know if I qualify as an activist, but I suppose it was. Looking back one just laughs. But I would think that the difficulty was also as a result of the approaches we intended to use. We wanted to reach so many people at any one time, and this created difficulties, because it meant we needed a lot of resources, which were not readily available. But with experience, one appreciates the need to take it one constituency at a time, one group at a time, one community at a time and one school at a time.”

Dabesaki stayed in school because he needed school to be effective in his community work. “They were both pursued with the same amount of vigor and commitment. I have tried to achieve some balance is by making sure that the goals of my work align with my studies. As a student of Guidance and Counselling, my work focused a lot more on sexual reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and education.

My current work is focusing on economic policy, youth development policy and broadly the analysis of poverty because I am taking a course in Development Studies. In the end these come together quite well, with an effective economic development policy, poverty would be tackled and off course people’s susceptibility to disease would be reduced and off course education and health services would be improved. Therefore for me the goal has always been stay in school- do the job, use the school, do the job and it has worked quite well so far.”

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