“I was inspired by my desire to change the narrative” Victoria Ibiwoye says when asked about her motivation to begin the foundation today known as One African Child.
“When I hear about Africa’’, she continues, ”I often hear about hunger, poverty, and a lot of other negativity, I had this desire to change that Narrative, and I thought to do it from the perspective of education.”
“I believe that if you invest in the minds of young people, they can grow up to become creators, entrepreneurs and also people who come up with sustainable ideas that can transform our country,” she explains.
Victoria’s dream birthed One African child foundation. A network of young volunteers dedicated to helping young children achieve their dreams by organising educative projects for children, sharing best practices in education as well as teaching ethical leadership skills.
“Start small” Victoria says to those who wish to tread the part of social entrepreneurship.
“When one African child started, I said to myself, I am not going to try to solve all of Africa’s problems because they are too complex, I am just going to try to see how I can solve some of our multidimensional problems from the perspective of education.”
“I wanted to pick one child, invest in that child and see how that child will become a multiplier effect in the society tomorrow.”
Victoria describes the early days of OAC as a time when she made passionate use of social media to talk about her activities. “I was using social media to tell powerful stories,” she says.
As a result, she continues, “I got so many messages from young people who were equally passionate saying, how can I collaborate with you? And that was how the organisation developed.”
“Go out there and gather experience” she further admonishes. “I myself did a lot of volunteering jobs and these efforts reminded me of the humanity in myself.”
“I once went from room to room in the university hostels with a friend at the end of the semester, gathering leftover food stuff and other items that could be donated to those who really need them,”.
With regards to her greatest challenges, Victoria refers to the learning curve that came with starting off the organisation and the mistakes she made during those early days. To get through this trying period, Victoria cites her faith and avid research as the tools that got her through.
“I went online and read about some things for the first time, things like how to write a strategic action plan as well as how to communicate better as a leader.”
Victoria’s activities have taken her to other parts of the world where she attends trainings and attempts to share some of her own knowledge. One of such trips is her journey to Canada recently in order to be part of UNESCO’s forum on global citizenship education.
With reference to the innovations in these other countries that she would like to see brought home to Nigeria, Victoria remarks, “I would like to see our government invest in education, particularly in inter-cultural education.”
“I’ve been to countries like Uganda and Ghana, I’ve seen the governments of these countries invest in education for Africans. They do lots of conferences and trainings for social entrepreneurs and people working in the civil society and they invite people from other African countries.”“I have not seen much of that investment coming from Nigeria. I would like to see he government of Nigeria do similar trainings, so that other people can also come to learn from us”, she continues.
Victoria is also interested in seeing the Nigerian government invest in the training of teachers so as to avoid individuals becoming educators only when they cannot get other jobs.
To Victoria, the biggest achievement of the foundation has been hearing the success stories of students who have been trained by OAC.
“They are little stories”, she says. “But they come to mean a lot. We see some of the students that we trained being promoted to higher classes, we see some of the children occupying leadership positions even at elementary and high school levels and choosing to be different and ethical leaders.”
“They have also learned to take the initiative within their communities”, she adds.“Two of the boys we trained recently worked on educating their community on proper waste disposal and also finding a sustainable solution to the poor irrigation system.”
Victoria’s message to young upcoming social entrepreneurs in Nigeria is that there is a lot of duplication of projects in the Nigerian social entrepreneurship space. Her advice to young people is that they start to collaborate with already existing organisations in order to maximize impact and effectiveness.
To join OAC, please visit the Facebook page of the organisation (OneAfricanChild) and reply to the Call for Volunteers. The form call also be accessed via the twitter and and instagram pages of the Foundation.