From three communities in Lagos – Lekki-Ajah, Lagos Island and Ifako-Ijaiye – they all came, with mixed feelings and hanging expectations. Could this be worth the time? Could this be another scam going on in town? (Lagos is full of such and the uninitiated who swallows their gimmicks hook, line and sinker always have their fingers burnt). Could this be an opportunity for this so-called NGO to add to their figures in their bid to solicit funds? Are we just going to be used as mere statistics to fill up report spaces for their sponsors?
These and more were the unasked questions on their mind. Yet they came, many of them students who currently have some time to spare. The Lagos dweller and indeed many Nigerians are determined people; they hope against hope. Or is it not often said that while there is life, there is hope?
Buoyed by this element of hope, they all came, for five days of intensive training to become change agents, role models, and behavioral change communicators in their various communities. After five days under the tutelage of YEDI’s experienced Master Coaches; after five days of energizing exercises, fun-filled and informative practices, fact-filled PowerPoint presentations, no-holds-barred interactive sessions and do-it-yourself teach-back sessions, these new Skillz Coaches are equipped to hit the ground running. During their graduation ceremony on Friday April 17, 2015, they shared some of their outstanding experiences with YEDI’s Communications Officer.
“I don’t regret coming here; in fact I don’t ever want this to stop”
Prior to this training, Mayowa Adams (nicknamed Mayor) never knew HIV could be contracted through breast milk. You may think that’s absurd but according to UNICEF, about 15% of children contract the virus through breastfeeding. And she had been discriminating against an HIV positive guy in her neighborhood; she had tried and sentenced him in her own court of ignorance, having the wrong notion HIV is contracted only as a result of a promiscuous lifestyle. And just like her colleagues, her self confidence has been enhanced. She was full of praise for her Master Coaches and YEDI for saving her from a life of “Home movies”.
FALUA TAIWO FAD (D.J FAD)
For DJ FAD, an upcoming Disk Jockey, it seems he has just made a turning-point decision in his career; now he wants to be a YEDI full-time Master Coach! Fad is not a wimp, but the Master Coaches made a lasting impression on him. They seem to have transferred self-confidence into him and he already sees himself training others to become change agents that he already is.
KADRI ABOSEDE JOY
Kadri Joy is a very shy but jovial young lady. She has two younger cousins who are very talented but physically challenged, and she believes there are better ways to give them a sense of belonging. Even though the training was not focused on physically-challenged children, she wants to build on the knowledge she gained at YEDI to design a method for empowering such people. According to her becoming change agents comes in different forms!
Tola is a philosophy undergraduate of UNILAG. On his first day of training, he was pleasantly surprised that despite the invaluable knowledge being passed on to him, YEDI was still giving him launch and stipend to take care of transport. He has become enamoured of the Master Coaches and the fact that they are bringing out the best in him. According to him, such training is a lifetime opportunity and this has changed his philosophy of life. And more importantly, all the half-truths and misconceptions about Malaria and HIV/AIDS have been dispelled, and now he has enough knowledge to make informed decisions.
AJAYI KEHINDE JOHNSON
“One hundred thousand naira can’t even pay for the training we got here for free,” he enthused when asked to access the 5-day TOC. Johnson is a final year philosophy student of UNILAG. To him, this has been an opportunity to re-invent himself. He scored the Master Coaches very high, calling them examples of humility, patience and mutual respect. And to youths out there, he has a word of advice: “If you see an opportunity to be a volunteer like this, don’t miss out.” No doubt, Johnson came, saw, and was transformed.