The despondent children of Nigeria.
They look like us – complete with ten fingers, toes and all – and yet, are deemed by some as lost causes due to their unfortunate circumstances and unsightly appearance.
This month’s hero is a young woman in her early twenties and a determined instrument of empowerment for these children. Seyi Oluyole, the Executive Director of Nurture My Future, is steadily making a difference in young lives through innovative education, refusing to be hindered by the age factor and the challenges the Nigerian society raises. Till date, the organisation has equipped approximately 400 children, and anticipates working with 1,000 in the suburb of Itamaga in Lagos.
Seyi shared her interesting story with us during an engaging interview. Here’s what she had to say:
Please introduce yourself
My name is Seyi Oluyole and I am a graduate of English and Literary Studies from Covenant University. I’m also the Director of Nurture My Future Organisation, a non-profit organisation that caters to despondent children.
Tell us a bit about your passion for kids and what led to you starting Nurture My Future?
When I was 13, my parents moved to somewhere called Ebute Metta Oyinbo. The society there was one that once a girl finished JS3, she can get pregnant and get married.
I think I was in JS2 or JS3 when I formed a dance group, and one of the things I told the kids in my group was that for this dance group to work, they have to stay in school and that if they do very well in school, they can dance. The whole dance thing was a very big deal for them; they didn’t have anything like that in their community so it made them very interested.
I started the NGO when I was 17 or 18 because I just really wanted to work with kids. I tried researching a couple of organisations that I could actually work with but I [realized] that I couldn’t find anything that was in touch with exactly what I wanted. And a lot of the organisations I was finding, they wanted to give but none of them had continuity… they go to a community, maybe they help the kids for a couple of weeks and then just move on.
Are you working with a particular community at the moment?
Presently, we’re working with a community in Ikorodu called Imota. We’re [running] a community learning centre where they come after school to just hangout, and we try to teach them in such a way that it doesn’t feel like school, maybe with LEGOs and songs. [For] many of them, the whole thing feels very strange because they don’t even go to school. We’re working on another school in Ikorodu here too but this one is at Itamaga. We would definitely love to work with kids all over Nigeria, but for now it’s only in Lagos because of manpower.
How do you get support financially to run different projects?
We usually raise funds on social media. Recently, we started a campaign, “Donate 1,000 naira every month to support a child.”
How is the campaign going so far?
Well, so far, so good, we have some people that are willing. The whole strategy was to explain to them that most of you buy N1,000 credit a month, so just imagine you are buying… So far the few people I have spoken, many of them have been forthcoming.
What would you say has been your proudest moment on your journey?
Recently, I had a kid do a card [for me]. He was supposed to be in Primary 5 but he couldn’t read anything. He was coming to the community centre but there was no way he was going to be able to catch up [since ] he didn’t even know two-letter words. So I just decided to sponsor him to a private school so that way, he could get more supervision. Then during Mother’s Day or so, he made a card that read “I love Aunty Seyi because she pays my school fees”.
As a young person, what sacrifices would you say you’ve made to make NYF a success?
One very important [sacrifices] as of last year: I was in the United States and was helping a couple of kids over there but just felt that some of the children had better opportunities but were just misusing them and there were kids in Nigeria that needed help and I just decided to come back home. That’s been one of the biggest sacrifices for me because the Nigerian society is not friendly sometimes, and once in a while, I just imagine how [much] better things were [in the United States] before I came back home to continue to run the organisation.
How has your family been support-wise?
Some people think that it would be better if I just let things be while some really care. Like my mum, [she] is very supportive of me. My brothers think that I should probably have stayed in the United States and just be praying for the kids and all but everybody tries to be supportive once in a while.
Advice to young men and women who are starting up charitable initiatives, based on your experience
I would say that they should lay the pictures of the people or whatever cause [they] are trying to work with on their hearts because that’s what pulls you through when it’s hard to get funds. Once in a while, you’ll feel like, “This is not even my problem so when am I going through so much trouble … for something I’m not even getting paid for?” But the truth is that you’re making an impact in someone’s life, and let that be your driving force; the fact that this thing I’m doing something is going to help someone out and it’s not all about me.
Any final thoughts
I say it every time: every child should have a chance to succeed. You don’t necessarily have to work with an organisation but everyone should just be in touch with their community and understand that if you feel that whatever is happening is none of your business, know that these kids are going to grow up and the vices in the society are going to keep increasing if they don’t get the help that they need. Just help people in any way that you can. You’re not too young, not too old, not too poor.
To find out more about Nurture My Future, please visit the organisation’s official blog or send an email to nurturemyfuture(at)gmail.com
If you would like to make direct donations:
Account Number: 0062011205
Nurture My Future Organization