When I was a little girl, the sky was my canvas. On blue-sky days, I would lie on my back on the bonnet of Daddy’s Peugeot, and paint my Disney-flavored fantasies. You see, I was a dreamer, and there wasn’t room enough for my sort in those days, in the place I come from.
I come from dictatorship. I come from corruption, strikes, high infant mortality rates. From two days, three days… ten, without electricity. Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful childhood. Some might even say “privileged,” which simply means I always owned a decent pair of shoes and there was always something to eat—never mind if there weren’t choices. But I knew from an early age that all was not right with the world. So I regularly kept my head in the sky.
I also loved stories. They gave me a peak into other worlds; fed my imagination. But I only wanted happy stories. If a story ended sadly, I would slap it on my sky-canvas and rework it. As I grew up, I began to discover that stories connect fantasy to reality.
I remember the day my mother read to me from Oliver Twist. It was the chapter titled, “Oliver Twist Asks for More.” I decided that day I would see to it no child ever went hungry again. A few years after, in Junior Secondary School, I read the fictional story of a Nigerian woman who invested in the life of one street-urchin, subsequently changing a whole community. Through this book, I made a discovery that would eventually form the impetus for my lifework—namely, that I can create the future by investing in young people.
With the introduction of social media, I have found a new canvas. But I dance in this sky with a purpose. I discovered Brooke on Facebook over a year ago, while studying in the United States. Brooke buys coffee beans at market rates from formerly displaced farmers in post-conflict East African countries, sells them in America, and contributes majority of the proceeds to bringing attention to global concerns like the Red Light District and AIDS in Africa. I had the joy of meeting Brooke in person last year, and she is an inspiration to me.
My sisters and I recently founded Hope Youth Foundation in Nigeria with a view to inspire hope in youth and galvanize them into action for the transformation of our country. As I perused Facebook to see if I could discover other Nigerians who were investing in the lives of youth, I came across a link on someone’s page for World Pulse. And that is how I came to find out about Voices of Our Future. What an opportunity! There is a need for storytellers in the world. Better yet, dreamer-storytellers who can create hopeful worlds for some and dole out a healthy dose of reality for others. It would be a privilege to take my place among them.