With a passionate vision to build a society where there is effective communication between parents and daughters and help young girls know their rights, Isimeme Ejodame a graduate of Micro-biology at the University of Benin joined forces with her friend to set up the Young Girls' foundation (YGF), Nigeria in 2004. This young lady from Edo State who has been stereotyped by people who have the notion that young people from Edo state are either involved in Advanced fee fraud, popularly known as 419, Sex trafficking and drugs was one of the twenty youths selected by the British council to participate in the Belongings Project.
Perhaps, it was the desire to change the wrong perspective about Edo state that motivated Isimeme to participate in the British Council's Belongings Project, which brings together young people from different culture to broaden their international views and enable them to promote and communicate the relevance of their cultural experiences to others.
On how she heard about the programme, she said "I saw the advert in the newspaper and applied". Her application was short listed and she was afterwards invited for interview. The Belongings project brought together young people from different parts of Nigeria and U.K to live with for two weeks in Nigeria and another two weeks in U.K. This was to help the participants develop leadership skills while exploring culture and identity to promote intercultural dialogue and generate shared understanding between individuals and communities where they come from.
For Isimeme, not only has her leadership and networking skills been improved, the project has enabled her meet other young persons working for a positive change. She says she has been inspired by the experience. She commended the organisers of the programme, British Council and urged them to involve the government for sustainability. She also advised other Nigerian youths to discover their potentials and look for opportunities to bring out their best, "dream big, set goals and seek possibility". She added that young people need to read newspapers and shun the attitude of underestimating opportunities they find.
One of her British counterparts on the Belongings project, Bridget who works with Jump, a charity organisation in the U.K also said that the programme has helped her learn more things about herself. She explained that her time in Nigeria has given her boldness while watching her Nigerian counterparts' passionate commitment to strive towards leadership. However, she confessed that the way of life in Nigeria is not similar to what she is used to. Lack of electricity and water are some of the problems she faced during her stay in Nigeria. "Everyone in Lagos is so security conscious" she noted.
Steven Oguntoyinbo, another Nigerian participant from Ogun State went to the United Kingdom with a chewing stick and Adire material which were part of the items he displayed as unique things from his culture. For him, the project has ignited in him a desire to learn more about his heritage, culture and identity. "The experience has cleared the wrong perspective I use to have about British culture" he said.
Belongings is one of British council's five regional projects that together constitute Africa 2007, a three-year regional programme in East, West and Southern Africa. The Programme aims to explore notions of culture and identity to generate fresh ideas and create new understandings between individuals and communities in Africa and the U.K.
Category:Advocacy | Date:2007-12-30
Belongings Project empowers youths as change agents
By Jennifer Ehidiamen