An Overview of the Active Citizen Fellowship for Young African Leaders

Posted by I Take Actions Admin in Active Citizen Fellowship, 04 Nov 2021 08:56

 

What is the Active Citizen Fellowship?

In June 2021, the Active Citizen Fellowship was launched. Its purpose was to provide an interactive, virtual learning experience for young social entrepreneurs and civil society leaders in Nigeria, who have committed to promoting democratic principles and improving the quality of life in their communities. Ninety-six applications were received; 21 applicants were selected for the training program of the fellowship, and seven exceptional applicants graduated as fellows.

Over four weeks, the fellows heard from several industry experts on how to best approach social activism. They had a chance to put what they had learnt into practice.

Week One: Storytelling with Wemino Onikan

The fellows spent time with an experienced communications expert, Wemino Onikan, to learn how to tell stories that touch the heart successfully. The fellows took the advice from Wemino and went on to write a story to convince the public to support their Tweet campaign on itakeactions.org.

Week Two: Fundraising with Crystal Chibu

Fundraising is a crucial component of helping achieve social aims and causes. Crystal Chigbu, the director of The IREDE Foundation, gave an insightful session on mobilizing funds through online and offline strategies. The fellows then created a fundraising campaign on itakeactions.org.

Week Three: Advocacy with Femi Aderibigbe

In this session, the fellows heard from Femi Aderibigbe, who oversees Malala Fund’s campaign in Nigeria and has years of experience in government relations. This session aimed for the fellows to learn about the best way for social activists to approach governments. The fellows used what they learnt by petitioning various stakeholders on community issues through a public petition campaign on itakeactions.org.

Week Four: Active Citizenship with Gabriel Okeowo

The last training session of the fellowship was led by Gabriel Okeowo, the Principal Lead of BudgIT Foundation. Budgit is a civic organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement to facilitate societal change. Gabriel gave an exciting presentation to the fellows on effectively using active citizenship as a programming strategy.

 

Here’s what the Fellows had to say… 

Wilson Atumeyi is an anti-corruption activist. He is the Founder and CEO of Water With Development (WaterWide). WaterWide is a non-profit organization that tracks government spending and international aid for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene to ensure accountability and transparency of implementation.

It’s been amazing running campaigns and writing petitions, getting family and friends to donate to my/our cause. It’s not been an easy journey, but I am glad I am a part of this fellowship. I hope to have more Nigerians join this to ensure sustainable development of themselves and their organizations.

Oluwaseun Folajuwon-Banjo is a lawyer/development specialist/human rights advocate focusing on gender equality/justice. She’s the Founder & Executive Director of Savingcross Justicepoint Foundation, where she works to protect, develop and empower the vulnerable and indigent in the community, particularly women/children facing GBV in Nigeria.

I am grateful to have been a part of the fellowship. Although in the beginning, I was skeptical about what to expect, how to deliver my weekly tasks etc. but as the program unfolded, I kept finding myself wrapped up in the activities and enthusiastic about my weekly deliverables. The knowledge, exposure and insights gained are going to be very useful for my organization and me. And I can’t wait to share our future achievements and successes.

Moses Albert is a Child Protection and Welfare Expert/ Trainer, Street Children Rehabilitation Consultant/ Expert. He works as a project coordinator with the Living Your Dreams Initiative. He is also the co-founder of iCare Africa Initiative, an organization that focuses on ending all forms of violence, especially SGVB, against Children and is involved in youth development.

I am extremely excited about this fellowship. This fellowship has helped me understand the importance of fundraising with a practical session in which I participated. I am currently planning a fundraising event. Also, I have understood the power of citizen participation, which is key to our development. I have discovered through this fellowship that we must get citizens involved in social issues because the government are accountable when Citizens are involved.

Deborah Arewa is the Founder/Executive Director of REACHi Africa; a non-governmental organization focused on improving access to good health & quality education for children living in underserved communities. Through her organization’s different interventions, she has reached out to over 4500 children with health and education relief material.

My greatest joy was the fact that with little or no resources, we were able to drive positive impact, most especially through the Petition task we were told to carry out. In a short period, I was able to engage several citizens (on behalf of our organization) to take a stand against the issue of child marriage through the “I Take Action” platform, and as a result of their actions (signatures), our organization was able to call the attention of the Ministry of Human services and social development on the issue of child marriages in the state. This has been a pressing issue for us as an organization as we have had an encounter with few victims of this issue. 

Ikechukwu Okolo is a social entrepreneur with over four years of experience providing access to medical diagnosis in clinically underserved communities in Nigeria by providing standard, mobile and affordable diagnostic services using the power of mobile diagnosis, mobile technology and low-cost innovation, reaching out to over 4,000 patients in the last 11 months.

The fellowship was educative and impactful. It has helped Milecent Health and me to have more knowledge on Civic engagements and how to implement them. During the fellowship, the engagement brought out the best in me regarding timekeeping, accountability and consistency. The weekly tasks helped keep us in shape knowing you have a task to complete.

 Amina Sani Musa is the Founder/Executive Director of Save the less privileged woman and child (SALWOC). A community-based organization aimed to promote the life of less privileged women and children.

This fellowship has been a transforming experience for me and my organization, I was contacted by a prominent person from my state through my petition, and we are currently in talks for ways he can help the organization.

Abdulbasith Eshilokun is the Founder/Executive Director of Health Volunteers Nigeria Initiative, an NGO which delivers primary healthcare services to indigent people living in underserved communities. He has reached out to over 10,000 people across 18 communities with healthcare services that have helped them to live healthy lives.

The active citizen fellowship was an opportunity to gain more insight into effective ways to better engage stakeholders for our organization’s growth. Before now, we had nursed the idea of calling the attention of stakeholders to the plight of the residents of communities where we work but didn’t know how to go about it. After an engaging learning session on advocacy and the weekly task assigned, there was clarity. This is just one of many things that the fellowship has done for us. I’ll certainly recommend this fellowship for every Changemaker who is committed to acquiring more knowledge for impact.

From the feedback received, it is evident that The Active Citizen Fellowship was a hugely rewarding programme for the fellows. Not only this, but the Fellowship achieved some huge successes. For example, N32,800 was raised online by fellows for various social causes during the fellowship in less than one week. Four hundred sixty-four signatures were received in less than one week during the fellowship for the fellows’ petitions. One participant received a N50,000 grant based on overall performance. All fellows now have premium access to itakeactions.org for one year to run their campaigns and mobilize citizens for support.

At the time of writing this article, we have embarked on the second cohort of the Active Citizen Fellowship. Twenty-eight applicants out of the 151 people that applied for the training phase. 

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