I’m sure you are probably wondering why am I back in Nigeria again, when I was just here in March….
Well many of you might not know this but my family and I run non-profit organization called Women Empowered to Achieve the Impossible (WETATi). Since the birth of WETATi in 2012, our NGO has expanded outside of empowering women or female youth in the United States. Today, I am back in Nigeria to launch WETATi International, which has taken on a whole new meaning, We’re Empowered to Achieve the impossible. WETATi focuses on empowering all youth, both men and women. By holding a 3-day youth empowerment conference, scholarship and awards banquet at the University of Lagos (UNiLAG).
From Maryland to Nigeria, our WETATi team here was made up of my Mom, and Aunt. Lagos Nigeria is our first official international conference, which was held last week November 12th through November 14th at the University of Lagos, located in Lagos, Nigeria. The theme of the program was, building a nation through positive mindset, service, volunteerism, mentorship, leadership with integrity and entrepreneurship, teaching the importance of developing an entrepreneurial mindset. During my first week I got to Nigeria, I spent most of my time running to seek sponsorship’s, partnerships and youth organizations in Lagos city. When our team originally found out University of Lagos wanted us to bring our conference to Nigerian, we were so excited!! WETATi has wanted to bring this initiative back home for the longest.
On the second week, the first day of our conference began on Thursday November 12th. The first day was a general session focused on youth empowerment by gaining the youths perspective. We discussed practical life application of school skills, the role of Churches and NGO’s and how to be a contributing member of society. I spoke abut how I got started as an artist and the power in being able to own yourself or ideas.
We were so excited to see young students from Government Technical College, Ijeka Lagos Nigeria, line up one by one at the podium to ensure they get their voices heard. Each spoke about topics that mirrored issues relevant to youth living in America. It was such an empowering feeling to know that you can use the story of finding your purpose in life to inspire complete strangers to find his or her purpose.
WE witnessed so many young girls and boys eager to learn more about how they can do more and what steps they can take to make their futures bright. During the conference we had local politicians and professionals come and speak about the power of volunteerism and integrity and so many other topics that cued on how we can all do better. One of our main goals was to make sure to insure that youths voices were heard and understood.
Our 3-day conference allowed attendants to connect with the leaders in their perspective communities and link some of the youth with possible job, internship and apprenticeship opportunities. Students asked many questions like: How can we figure out what are skills are outside of the classroom? How can the government help to enlighten the youth so we can all work together to make Nigeria better? And so many more important questions were asked. Overall, there is truly a lot to be celebrated about this conference. As a team we were able to have the conference come together in such a caring and impactful way which was all by the Grace of God and yes! with the help of so many people, most complete strangers.
Through the lenses of the youth I was able to witness their pains and frustrations. How the government, schools and churches have let them down. Many wanted to find creative outlets to express themselves outside of the classroom or help in starting their own businesses. I personally was able to connect with one of the attendants who designs and creates her own textiles but couldn’t find the support she needed because what she is doing art isn’t appreciated or supported much here in Nigeria. The only thought that kept running in my head was lack of opportunity. Every person I had the pleasure on interacting with was intelligent, sharp, articulate and very friendly. Below is a testimonial from one of the young men that attended the conference and a few pictures from the past two weeks.
Thank you very much for the just concluded empowerment conference and the willingness to come to Nigeria.
I watched with rapt attention how you, your daughter and your team negotiated through the sea of frustrations, disappointments and deceptions ( Nigerian factor ) and i heard in the pained phraseology of the description of your experiences that indeed this has drawn blood from you. However, undaunted and with courage you soldiered on and delivered not only a successful conference, but you, your daughter and your team exemplified the message you brought to nigeria. notably, despite your nigerian experiences you kept your integrity and showed your compassion by not only giving out the awards and scholarship as planned but expanded the scope of some of the awards. Your daughter was tireless in ensuring everyone got served at the dinner and significantly she personally served food to the dj crew for her status that was pleasing to see.
Personally, i am encouraged to stay the course of owing a research institute funded by at least three companies l will own. the institute will bud off businesses based on discoveries it makes. Also, l came away with strategies of moving my one man liguid detergent business to the next level. Indeed i will pass on the message.
Moving forward, with Nigeria pulling down the towering image of corruption through prosecution of corrupt public office holders, there is need to resensitize/reawaken Nigerians to the virtues of integrity, compassion and enterprise which corruption has divorced us from. Hence WETATI’s coming is at the right time. – frank izokpu
From conception to completion, we were able give scholarships to two deserving University of Lagos students. Now, WETATi international is now working on creating a center for creative thinking and social responsibility in Lagos. This opportunity has inspired to me want to do MORE, to help young people take the necessary steps to find their path and purpose in life.
Has the cultural influences of African parents eaten up the minds of Nigerian youths? #Thoughts?