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Ashoka Makes an Inroad Into South East With Revolutionary “Everyone A Changemaker” Movement, In Enugu, July 28

Ashoka, an international, social system change organization headquartered in the United States (US) and operating in more than 50 countries in the world has announced its launch of “Everyone A Changemaker” movement for the South East in Enugu come July 28.

This was disclosed on Dispute Resolution Arena, a mediation radio program on Solid 100.9 FM, Enugu, anchored by Hon. Uchenna Cyril Anioke, PhD.
Shedding light on what Ashoka stands for, how he got involved and the impacts of his Fellowship during the program, Sir Ken Ike Okere, former Zonal Director, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria and also an Ashoka Fellow since 2008, said he heard about Ashoka for the first time when he was nominated by someone he never got to know till date, for the invaluable and selfless contribution he began making in the society through a literary club he set up many years back.
He explained that Ashoka was founded by Bill Dayton, an American more than 40 years ago in 1980. The fundamental philosophy of Ashoka is that governments all over the world are and will continue to be unable to fully satisfy society and therefore it is left for individuals known as changemakers to sit up, stand up and help society become better. So Ashoka looks for such individuals referred to as social entrepreneurs, across the world and partners with them to be able to scale up whatever they are doing.
“So, in my own case, long before 2008, we had began this life journey of trying to improve ourselves and society through literary societies.
“We founded the Abuja Literary Society which has continued for more than 25 years now. At the time, we were using the Abuja Literary Society to make a lot of impact also in schools. So, I was running a project called the Abuja Reads Project where we would take underserved schools and be able to support the students to be able to understand the value of being literate. But more importantly, using the platform of the Abuja Literary Society we created a movement that today still thrives in Abuja.
“I was nominated for Ashoka fellowship by some people who had noticed the work I was doing. That was how the partnership with Ashoka began,” he said.
Talking about Ashoka “Everyone a Changemaker” movement, Paula Ugwu, who joined the program virtually, said that as Partnerships Manager and Youth Years Leader, Ashoka West Africa, she is saddled with the responsibility of identifying and supporting young changemakers in order to increase the visibility for the work that they are doing. She also has the responsibility of linking them to collaborate with partnership that helps them to increase the impact of the work they are doing.
She stressed the benefits of Ashoka “Everyone a Changemaker” coming to Enugu.
In her words:
“It will be very beneficial to the young people in Enugu because they will get to hear stories of young people like them who have already started leading change at a very young age…
“I believe that with them hearing the stories of these young changemakers who have already started leading young and working with strong teams of young people like them, it will inspire young people in Enugu to take up the battle of saying, yes, I can be a changemaker, I can make a difference in Enugu and of course the South East and then across the whole of Nigeria.”

Young people in Enugu will also get to know about Ashoka Young Changemakers, the benefits of being a member, the criteria for membership and how to apply if one is eligible.
Paula said it is important for young people to take hold of their power because Ashoka believes that “young people have the core ability to change their world to influence their peers and make very strategic decisions.” The idea is that when one starts as a child, changemaking comes naturally because youths have a lot of bright and fantastic ideas.
She said that youths are able to change and provide very wonderful ideas and solutions to problems that they identify in their communities, in their schools or even in their places of worship.
She affirmed Ashoka’s belief that young people can find their power if they are well supported by adult allies which include their parents or guardians and teachers. These people are very crucial to the development of young people and also their abilities to become changemakers.
Nnenna Esther Isu-Omo, Youth Years Intern, Ashoka West Africa, in her own submissions said that the sort of support Ashoka provide is not necessarily finance.
According to her:
“I support the entire Youth Years team to ensure that the young people we select for our network are well supported and that the network we have is diverse, and that we provide them with the right opportunities to help them hone their skills and to help them contribute changemaking in their various areas.
“When Ashoka say support, we don’t necessarily mean finances. Sometimes we support financially, but what we do is that we provide all the support skills, the trainings and we recommend them to organizations that are also willing to fund their projects.”
She gave examples of young people who have led changes in their communities like that of a youngster who organized a computer training program in Ikorodu, Lagos, for his peers who were prone to social vices. He ended up teaching them coding thus enhancing their competitive value. There is also a story of a 13-year-old girl who organized her mates in school whom she noticed were naïve, to teach them about female hygiene, showing them how to make use of reusable sanitary materials and to teach them about self esteem.
These are some of the things young people are doing as changemakers. So, Ashoka is coming to Enugu to inspire youths and young people in the South East to draw inspiration from these and similar examples, believe in themselves, own their power and take advantage of the support it provides for them to become changemakers wherever they are and in whatever they do for a changed society that is beneficial for all.

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