Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Celebrating a rare gem @dayoisrael #HappyBirthday

Some have asked, is he a pastor, youth advocate or a politician? At one point me too was confused. But i figure you are just a bundle of talent with well nurtured skills. Also an epitome of assertiveness. A voracious reader. A leader.

I bless God for the day I found you via Google some seven years ago, brother!! I was a somewhat confused girl, hungry for a change.  Your passion and story inspired me to find my path and today my story is different for good. God used you and your team (GAAVOHCR).

Asiwaju Dayo-Oluwashindara Israel  (Asiwaju Dayo Israel II) thank you for living your life so positively for other young people to emulate! Thank you for giving me, a stranger, an opportunity to be part of that youth camp in Ota! Thank you for always honoring God as your source. Thank you for not tiptoeing through life.

May God increase you. May you never be left stranded. May your light continue to shine brighter and brighter until the perfect day! May your lifestyle be a sweet smelling aroma unto God. May you never forsake His ways.

May God's face continue to shine upon you. May you live love and live long. Your pocket will not run dry ni agbara Jesu!

May God continue to be your source. Even when you stumble, may God always show up to rescue you. May you never grief Him.


You sir, are a blessing to this generation!

Happy Birthday Temidayo Abdulai Israel!!

Grow in grace, great grace!!

The best is yet to come ni agbara Olorun!

The poem I wrote after I met Dayo and his team in 2004/2005:
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

I know, I know
I must tread only on that part I know well
else I cramp my style with stinking

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

Pictures taken during President Obama's Meeting with Young African Leaders 2010.

Monday, January 28, 2013

HEALTH: Young HIV positive Nigerians Seek Education, Rights

LAGOS, NIGERIA – When Aminat Alli-Agboola, 33, first found out she was HIV-positive in 2004, she was too sick to react to the news.

“I was very ill,” she says. “There was nothing I could do but pray to survive.”

At the time, she attended Yaba College of Technology in Lagos, a city on the southwest coast of Nigeria.

Unsure how she contracted the virus, she says that it could have been through having unprotected sex with an infected partner or by sharing unsterilized, sharp objects, like hair clippers or razor blades.

Alli-Agboola began antiretroviral drug therapy in 2005. She also joined an anti-AIDS club at her college, formed by HOPE worldwide, an international charity. The club informed students about HIV and reproductive health, and Alli-Agboola says she made herself an expert.

She says that it wouldn’t have amounted to anything without her family’s support.

“Support from family revived me,” she says. “For me, I was at the stage of dying.”

But beyond her family, the stigma attached to HIV was strong. Alli-Agboola says she did not know that one day she would be married with two children. Her husband and children are not infected with HIV.

Alli-Agboola says her HIV status was the first thing she revealed to her future husband when he asked her out on a date. She says her husband is informed about the virus and supportive.

“He does not see it as a hindrance to our relationship,” she says.

Alli-Agboola also didn’t think she would be working in an organization and interacting with others without discrimination, she says. But she now works with the Nigeria Business Coalition Against AIDS, which implements workplace and community-based HIV and AIDS prevention education, care and support programs.

She also runs Positive Youth Initiative of Nigeria, a project she launched in 2005 that provides psycho-social support for young people living with HIV.

But to other HIV-positive youths in Nigeria, Alli-Agboola’s happy ending, with a supportive family, college education and good job, may seem far from reach.

Despite increased awareness about HIV and AIDS, stigmatization in families and communities remains strong. Youths living with HIV cite discrimination when it comes to education and employment. They are working through nongovernmental organizations with the government to pass the anti-discrimination bill currently under consideration in the National Assembly to protect the rights of people with HIV and AIDS.

More than 4 percent of Nigerians have HIV, ranking it third among the countries with the highest HIV and AIDS burden in the world after India and South Africa, according to the 2012 Global AIDS Response Country Progress Report. But new infections in the country decreased by 6.1 percent from 2008 to 2010 and by 2.7 percent in 2011.

But for people living with HIV, the stigma has been strong.

Gloria Asuquo, 24, has lived with HIV for 14 years.

“I tested positive in 1999, when I was about 12 years old,” she says. “I contracted HIV through blood transfusion. Each time people come out to say HIV is through sex, I come out to say, no, it is not only through sex. You can still get it in so many ways.”

Asuquo’s parents initially hid her status from her when she was first diagnosed at the hospital.

“They hid it from me,” she says. “They didn’t want me to know I was HIV-positive.”

Her father revealed her status to her a few months later.

“He started out by asking what I would do if my friend was HIV-positive,” she says.

Asuquo says she replied that she would not be friends with the person. A few days later, he asked her again, and she gave the same reply. Then, he told her that she was HIV-positive.

Asuquo says she did not understand the impact of the revelation. There was no accurate HIV awareness, just stigma.

“Back in 1999, anybody that looked sickly was called ‘AIDS-carrier,’” Asuquo says. “Anytime we are talking as kids, we always had negative perception about the issue.”

Asuquo felt her first stigmatization when the reverend at her church advised her parents to throw the 12-year-old out of the house so she didn’t infect her family. He told them to send her to a hospice in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

“He went as far as showing my family a place in Wuse, an area in Abuja where people are abandoned to die,” she says.

Although Asuquo’s father refused the reverend’s advice, her mother favored it, leading to frequent fights. They finally agreed to create a separate, quarantined room for her in their house.

Asuquo ran away to the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Nigeria’s coordinating agency that oversees all efforts to combat HIV and AIDS.

“I ran to them and started crying,” she says. “They followed me back to my house and had discussion with my parents.”

When the situation didn’t improve, she ran away for three years, sleeping on the streets. But she returned home when a university lecturer told her about access to antiretroviral drugs.

“I was the first person in Nigeria they tested ARV drugs on,” Asuquo says.

Many young people in Nigeria are no longer oblivious about HIV, thanks to an increase in HIV awareness programs by nongovernmental organizations and media campaigns, Asuquo says.

HIV prevalence among young people ages 15 to 24 has shown a consistent decline from 6 percent in 2001, plateauing at 4.3 percent in 2005 and 4.2 percent in 2010, according to Nigeria’s 2012 Global AIDS Response Country Progress Report.

Many support groups have also sprouted throughout the years. Asuquo belongs to one for young people living with HIV called Association of Positive Youth in Nigeria. But she says the group doesn’t provide activities for education or support.

Alli-Agboola says funding is a challenge for some nongovernmental organizations and support groups working with HIV and AIDS.

“Why most organizations are redundant is because of the economic recess,” she says.

Although awareness has improved, stigma still exists.

Olajumoke, 25, declined to publish her family members’ last names because they have not told their extended family or friends that her 13-year-old cousin has HIV in order to shield him from stigma.

Her cousin, Enitan, was diagnosed with HIV six years ago. Doctors believe he contracted it through mother-to-child transmission. Enitan’s mother died from an AIDS-related illness in 2012.

“We thought it was a lie because nobody wanted to believe,” Olajumoke says.

He lives with his grandmother, Rashidat, who takes him for his treatment and medical checkups every two months. Enitan also attends lectures about HIV and AIDS infections. But no one has explained the full implication of what it means to be HIV-positive.

“We will eventually tell him, before he starts dating and all those stuff,” Olajumoke says. “But not now.”

Dr. Richard Ademola Adebayo, a psychiatrist consultant and clinical psychologist at the Federal Neuro Psychiatric Hospital in Yaba, says Enitan should know more.

“It is wrong,” Adebayo said during a phone interview. “The boy should be brought for counseling so that he can be aware of his condition. If he does not know, he can transmit it to others. He can indulge in other risky behavior. He should be aware. He is not too young to know.”

Beyond the family, people living with HIV also face discrimination in society when applying for education and employment.

Asuquo says that most of her peers living with HIV don’t have a job.

“The moment you come out on air to say you are positive and go look for job, they may deny you,” she says. “And coming to the area of school, they have denied so many people admission from school because of their status.”

Asuquo says she was denied admission to a private university after provisional acceptance because of her HIV status.

“I was denied admission into [a private] university,” she says. “I met all the requirement. But after doing a HIV test, they said they were sorry, they can’t give me admission because of my HIV status.”

Asuquo says the news upset her.

“You can imagine as a young person how devastated that is,” she says. “I don’t have right to work. I don’t have right to freedom. In that case, young people will not like coming out to say this is what they are.”

Most private institutions require newly admitted students to take an HIV test, she says.

Staff at one private institution, Bells University of Technology, which is not the school Asuquo applied to, said that it didn’t discriminate against students living with HIV. Dr. Emmanuel Daramola, a member of the university’s medical staff, says that students offered provisional admission undergo medical tests to ensure they are medically fit. But an HIV test is not one of them.

Asuquo plans to further her studies for biochemistry at a public university. She hopes to get a scholarship opportunity that will enable her pursue her dreams.

“The government should do something to protect the right of the youths,” Asuquo says.

Nigeria’s National Assembly is considering an HIV and AIDS anti-discrimination bill. One section would make it an offense for institutions to deny students admission based on their HIV status, says Kikelomo Taiwo, 25, who manages a campaign by a coalition of nongovernmental organizations working together to ensure the bill is passed into law.

Taiwo is a youth advocate with Education as a Vaccine Against AIDS, one of the lead nongovernmental organizations working with the National Agency for the Control of AIDS on the project. He says they joined the process in 2009 during a public hearing on the bill held by the House Committee on HIV/AIDS.

Nongovernmental organizations noted at the hearing that the bill focused only on stigma and discrimination in the workplace. They advocated for it to include more youth issues, like education.

“If we are going to have a bill on stigma and discrimination that will protect this key population, then it shouldn’t be focused on stigma and discrimination in the workplace alone,” Taiwo says.

Taiwo says the bill is just the first step.

“If we pass the bill into law, it doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to eradicate stigma and discrimination,” Taiwo says. “It only shows that our government is committed to the issues that affect the people.”

Taiwo suggests that after the bill is passed, follow-up action includes coming up with programs to target people in the community, educate them about the need to love and care for people living with HIV, and also tell them that there is a law that seeks to protect people living with HIV.

The bill is currently at the final stage, the third reading, in the House of Representatives. The Senate is also expected to pass the bill.

“The anti-stigma bill is yet to be passed,” says an official at the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, who declined to be identified for job security reasons. “People cannot come forward freely and conduct HIV test because they are afraid of being stigmatized. Those that have HIV cannot come forward and access their medication freely because they are afraid of who will see them. Stigma is a big issue.”

He says the government has geared a lot of programs toward combating HIV and AIDS in Nigeria. For example, the National HIV Vaccine Plan, launched in September 2012, aims to ensure Nigeria has quality and quantitative research to plan on how to combat HIV.

But most HIV programs target people in urban areas, ignoring rural areas, he says.

Alli-Agboola encourages people to take initiative by getting tested in order to know their HIV status.

“Some people say what I do not know won’t kill me, but it is better to know so that you can care and learn to live fine,” she says. “The people who care about you will support you.”

Asuquo advises young people not to allow anyone to look down on them or stop them from achieving their dreams.

“HIV does not kill,” she says. “What kills is the mindset of fear and self-stigma.”

Source: GPI: http://globalpressinstitute.org/africa/nigeria/young-hiv-positive-nigerians-seek-education-rights/page/0/0

About the reporter:
Jennifer Ehidiamen is a Senior Reporter and Media Trainer at Global Press Institute (GPI). She is reporting on health and development in Nigeria with a grant from the International Reporting Project in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Presentation 2.0: Advancing media career in 2013

How to advance media career in 2013 is all about moving from point A to point B or Point A to point C. To move from where we are and move forward, we must explore these three areas:

1. Trainings and FellowshipsIn my final year thesis that was focused on the factors that influences Journalist's productivity, one of the findings in the research was journalist's interest in embracing training opportunities. Most journalists who were surveyed in the Vanguard and the Nation newspaper said training opportunity is a factor that influences them but admitted that most of the trainings they have been to are mostly self-sponsored. The management rarely provide training opportunities that can advance their career. However, as journalists we must not limit ourselves to the limited (or unavailable) training opportunities. If we really want to move ahead in our media career then we must be ready to maximize every training opportunities available. Popular online resource where we can find training and fellowship opportunities include: www.ijnet.org; www.internationalreportingproject.org etc. Trainings and fellowships help us learn, grow and be better equipped to do our jobs better.

2. Embrace the New MediaThe new media is changing the face of journalism. But how many of us here are maximizing the tools to advance our media career? A lot of people I know who are active on social media and very proactive in reproducing news contents from the news that professional journalists publish have no prior training in journalism. Yet, they are the ones making the best of the new media tools. What are professional journalists doing? There are different tools we must be willing to embrace in order to become more visible online. Some of the tools I use mostly are: Twitter, FaceBook, GooglePlus, Blogger, LinkedIn etc. Each of these tools have a strong way of helping us have a more impactful online presence. We must not settle for just creating news contents for our traditional media alone. We each can own a website or create a free account on Blogger or Wordpress and use them as channels to amplify our voices on issues we are passionate about. The more people know that you are actually a journalist and not just another blogger, the more they are likely to visit your blog to read original and accurate reports you publish. We can use the new media to engage others, network, collaborate and advance our career.

3. Profile: Tell your story rightJournalists are very good story tellers. We do a very good job telling the stories of others but not our story. The other day my former classmate was having a challenge in filling a space in an application form that required her to tell her story. The space required over 700 words. But all she had was some 390 words or so. I was perplexed after I read through the profile. "You are more than this," I said to her. I could not figure out if she was trying to be modest or she was just too timid to tell her story. But she eventually revamped her profile, adding more relevant information that she had initially left out. As journalists we need to have an audacious voice in sharing our experiences with others. Our profile should speak for us, online and offline. How is your current LinkedIn page, is it up to date? Is the picture you used on point? People are interested in learning about where we have been and why we do what we do. Without an up-to-date profile that accurately tell of our work, they cannot learn this. Don't get me wrong, this is not same as blowing our own trumpet. I think we are each shortchanging ourselves from possible opportunities that might come knocking if there is nothing about our story that draws those opportunities on.

These three points have not exhausted how we can advance our career this year. But like uncle Lekan said at the beginning of his presentation, it is important for us to do a reflective thinking that will help us figure out where we are at the moment, where we want to get to and how we can get there, i.e. the things we need to do. And by God's grace, we'll get there.

Thank you.

[A recap of the presentation shared during JFC Fellowship. It was an interesting time of sharing and learning!]


Three speakers, Mr Gbolahan Gbadamosi (GG) and I will be joining Mr Lekan Otufodunrin to speak on the above topic at the January fellowship of Journalists for Christ on Saturday, January 26, 2013.

Venue: International Press Centre, Dideolu Estate, Ogba, Lagos.

Time: 12 noon- 2pm.

Mr Lekan Otufodunrin is the President of JFC http://mediacareerng.blogspot.com/ and Editor, Online, The Nation Newspaper thenationonlineng.net.

Mr Gbolahan Gbadamosi is a former Judicial Correspondent of The Guardian Newspaper. Gbadamosi holds a Bachelors Degree in History/Political Science from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife; Postgraduate Diploma in Mass Communication and a Bachelors Degree in Law both from the University of Lagos. He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2002. He is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, International Bar Association and currently the National President of Lawyers in the Media.

And there is me: a new crop of journalist, still wearing the "L" sign -- learning, and growing in the field by God's grace. :-)

If you are in town, join us for JFC fellowship today! See you there!

(This post is a jenniferized version of the update Mr Otufodunrin posted on his FB page).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Reporting on Health and Development... #IRP2013

Fresh news is up on GPI news wire.  This year, I'll be doing a lot of reporting on the business of health and development as an IRP New Media Fellow. Here is getting started: Young HIV positive Nigerians Seek Education, Rights

It is going to be an exciting year of learning, unlearning, sharing and empowering while contributing to ensuring people have access to accurate information.

Don't miss our coverage!

For more info on International Reporting Project, click here: http://internationalreportingproject.org/

Follow on Twitter: @IRPChirps

GPI News wire: http://globalpressinstitute.org/ and @pressinstitute

There is more!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Tool: How to Calculate Corruption in Nigeria

When corrupt political leaders or “escapade” of corrupt individuals is reported in Nigeria most of the time, the reports are usually punctuated with shocking figures. But these jaw-dropping figures will remain just figures unless translated in a way the average man on the street can understand.

A classic example of what I mean by translating the figures can be found on Ventures Africa’s news portal. In his article, “James Ibori And The Futility Of Public Office Theft,” Fisayo Soyombo wrote:
"Iboris’ confiscated properties, which he amassed through his ill-gotten wealth, amount to several hundred billions of naira! Imagine if Ibori had allocated just N10b to construction of roads in Delta and another N20b to upping the standard of education in the state; imagine if he dedicated N30b to creation of jobs, and, say, N40b to improving the pay package of public service workers. He could have effortlessly channeled N50b into developing agricultural productivity among his people."

Imagine a tool that allows everyone calculate the opportunity cost of corruption in Nigeria. Well, don’t imagine it for long! The tool is here!!

WANGONeT's Corruption Calculator  is a FREE application that helps individuals compute the opportunity cost of the funds siphoned by our leaders. By using the calculator, individuals are able to have contextual comparisons into the actual cost of the stolen and misappropriated funds.

To get started, click here: http://antigraft.org/wangonet/corruptioncalculator

A list of different corrupt profiles and the figures they are accused of stealing public funds are available here: http://antigraft.org/profilecase

I still maintain that kicking corruption out of Nigeria can only be successful if we start with self. If we are serious about winning the war and liberating our country and resources from the shackles of fraud and greed in all sectors then we must all stand up to the responsibility and start fighting corruption from the very level that we are.

Don't forget to report corruption http://antigraft.org/node/add/bribereports, no matter what form it is dressed.

Click here for more info: http://antigraft.org

 Spread the word! Take action!

Getting Creative. Beating Unemployment

The young man says he is not joking with his new skill- driving skill. "I have already started submitting my application," he said.

It is about 8.30am. And we are all waiting for our turn at xxx driving school. Even though we are all here to learn how to drive, the motive driving us to acquiring this new skill is different- just like our faces.

For some, learning to drive is just for fun. For others, it is to give them an edge. Others are preparing for the raining day- incase their driver(s) wake up one day and quit without notice. For the young man, it is to make him more employable. I can imagine a driving job already waiting for him out there! Opportunity meets preparation.

The unemployment statistics will start reducing when young people get more creative in their approach to employability. It is not only one way that leads to the market!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The To-Do List. Saying No. Quit Whining (culled from The Professional)

The To-Do List 
I cannot remember a time when I did not make to-do lists. Each morning, I look at what I need to accomplish that day, and in the evening I check off all the things I did. It is my small victory over time…
The to-do list is nothing but a set of goals- not the big goals of life, but the small day-to ones we have to get through on our way to achieving our vision. Goals have a powerful ability to shape our behaviour, motivate us, create energy… once you build goals, you enter the virtuous cycle by which when you are close to achieving a goals, newer goals appear, and this process keeps you going. This is the essence of the purpose-driven life…
The issue some people face is not the absence of a goal, but rather the presence of too many and the lack of prioritization. I find many young people wanting to learn a new language, enrol in a personal development program, join a gym, read a book, write a blog, run a marathon and socialize, all at the same time. It is important to prioritize one’s life. ask what is really important to you. Also ask yourself why that thing is so important and whether you are willing to commit yourself completely to it.

Saying No
It is surprising how the inability to say no results in time wasting, poor prioritization and the feeling of always being rushed and behind deadlines. I am constantly surprised by the number of people who attend meetings in which they have no interest. It is a criminal waste of human potential. Do not attend meetings just because you get invited to them; say no when you know you have no value to add to the discussions. You will be surprised how your forthrightness will eventually evoke admiration…
…Attend meetings in which you have a solid viewpoint and can add or receive value…
As a professional, you must set the limits, and when you do, people will respect you for it.

Quit Whining (about your job)
Jobs are not meant to satisfy us. Jobs do not know who we are, what we are seeking and what our special needs could be. You may think this is a mere philosophical statement. On the contrary, I believe it is the most practical and rewarding way of looking at a professional’s career. When I see scores of successful people around me, I believe their achievements are due largely to such a perspective.
Some people dislike their work, some like the salary but not the work; some dislike their boss yet others dislike their colleagues. In some cases people dislike the idea of work itself. A professional realizes that work is a blessing and, most of the time, it is therapeutic. We are lucky we have work to do. Every day, increasing numbers of people in this world feel left out, unlucky, because they have woken up to a morning without any work…
Many professionals argue that it is not the work they do that bothers them; they are bored with routine. “I seek challenge” is the headline on most resumes. The world goes around because of its capacity to be predictable. The bees and other insects pollinate the crop so that we can get our food with “monotonous” regularity. Imagine the sun getting bored with its work or the Earth feeling bored with its axis? Routine things done well make life livable.
And what is not routine about a cardiac surgeon who operates on people every day? Or a pilot who flies airplanes? …the great challenging job is often an illusion; making the routine interesting is the real challenge.
Sometimes, we have genuine problems at work. We may be underemployed or stymied in our quest for advancement, or have toxic bosses and difficult colleagues. The way out is to face up to the problem. Speak to someone in the organization or even an outside trained counsellor. Discuss the issue, find a solution, be open in examining how much of the problem is because of you or your own insecurities. Try to correct yourself. If you find the organizational fit is wrong, find another job- but do not whine. It simply does not help…

Culled from: The Professional by Subroto Bagchi

The book is a must read for young professionals :-) Happy Monday! Have a fabulous week ahead!!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Opening: Partnership Opportunity for youth and education focused NGOs in Nigeria

Opportunity: An International Organization based in Abuja is looking for new partners to work with in Nigeria!

Please if you run a real NGO with key focus on youth and education, kindly send your organisation's profile and contact details to youthmakingchange@gmail.com.

Please help spread the word!


Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Position yourself... #2013

I did ask my Ethiopian colleague why they were not celebrating Christmas and New Year. Don't get me wrong- Ethiopians do celebrate... But not at the same time with the rest of the world on December 25th and January 1st, respectively.

So while we, in Nigeria, screamed Happy New Year last night, I could imagine my few friends and associates turning over in their bed. January 1 is just another day. They'll wake up, and show up for work.

Wait until January 7th- thats when Christmas rave will go up in the East African country! And New Year's day? It is in September, baby! Yes, come September the good people of Ethiopia will have their turn screaming "Happy New Year" as they transition from 2005 to year 2006. I'll let you know when I successfully understand the Ethiopian time and Calendar.

So this exactly is my point- Happy New Year friends, today can either be another day on your Calendar or the best of time for you to step up your game.

Honestly, we all know our houses did not move any inch today. The stairways did not expand because it is 2013.

We 'll have to position ourselves well and push for the change we want to see. As one of my brothers once said, "nothing will change if no one changes things."

Don't be carried away by all the merry and music. Position yourself for another day to do more and be more. Yesterday's failure is an opportunity to learn to rise again.

What are you willingly to do differently this New Year to achieve a better result?

Get started and learn to bloom where you're planted.

Get started, already!