By Victor Gotevbe
Victor Okoro is one of the many young people born without a silver spoon in Amukoko (Lagos), a ghetto as perceived by many in Lagos. Growing up for him was expectedly unpleasant, but he learnt to see the gold buried in this slum.
Today, Victor has been able to establish a fast growing Human Development and capacity building organization. His network has impacted over 4,000 young people. He organizes talk shows every Sunday, motivating young people to become resourceful.
In this interview, Sir Vic takes Youthful Vibes on a journey into his childhood and how he has been able to overcome some insurmountable challenges. Excerpts:
My humble background
I am a vibrant youth advocate, a life coach and a consultant. By the grace of God, I am the founder of Africa Minds International, a fast growing Human Development Organisation, and I still serve as the Principal consultant of AirBorne Consulting. I was born June 18, 1982 into the family of Mr. Joshua and Doris Okoro. I am the first of three children.
My primary school education was at Revival Group Nursery and Primary School, but I later moved to Ire-Akari Primary school to write my common entrance examination into secondary school, after which I proceeded to Iganmu Junior secondary school, and later finished my senior secondary school education at Government College Eric Moore, Surulere Lagos. Thereafter, I obtained an OND in Computer Science from Lagos City Polythenic.
Growing up for me like other children born in his locality was not so pleasant. My father was an applicant all through my junior secondary school days, while my mum was a petty trader. I never bought a textbook in my secondary school days, however, I managed to pass my exams by simply borrowing textbooks from children whose parents could afford buying textbooks with a compensational price of helping them in the exam hall, and until I finished my secondary school education, I never wore a clothe or shoes of my own as I would always borrow from the next graduating students.
I again managed to obtain my OND from my little earnings as a primary school teacher, after which I would go to Festac town for private coaching, and later in the evening return to teach science courses in a tutorial center. There were several times I was sent out of the lecture room for non-payment of tuition fees; I even missed several tests because I couldn’t, afford handouts or any textbook, but I managed to graduate with 2.75 a lower division in computer science.
I live with my parents and siblings in a small one room rented apartment, at 24, Imam Street, Amukoko Lagos, a compound with over 50 tenants, but I have to make do with only two toilets and two bathrooms, bathing and using the toilet is always a monumental challenge as one would face long queues on a daily basis, having something to eat sometimes could be a bit challenging too.
But despite all these challenges, my passion to reach out to young people in my community, motivating and inspiring them to achieve the best for themselves against all odds indeed is a demanding and exciting passion. What matters to me is that we are transforming lives.
What inspired my volunteer work
A popular saying goes thus, that in the land of the blind a one eyed man is the king, I think I am privilege to be quite intelligent; I taught all science courses except for Geography, so often times young people will gather at my place just to receive lectures or to listen to me give them moral counsel.
I was never tired of talking to them so I decided to create a larger platform where I can talk to young people for free, no matter their religion, background, and ethnicity. All I needed was a platform without boundaries. So, on January 8, 2006, we held our first meeting with eight persons in attendance in a primary school.
A year later we moved to the hall we use presently, that can accommodate about 1,000 persons, and over time this platform has reached and touched the lives of over 4,500 persons via our different annual programmes bothering on Love, Sex, Relationship, Youth Development and Patriotism. Each of this program plays host to a minimum of 350 persons in attendance, while Naija project plays host to over a 1, 000 participants.
Motivation for vision
Two things have really inspired me to continue with this vision, the testimonies or feedbacks, I have got from people whose lives have been touched and the fact that we are making progress, despite the fact that I lead a crop of every young people majorly those in secondary school, who do not have income to support the project, no room for offerings, tithing and no aids from co-operate organizations.
One day, sometime in November, 2010 on a Friday, I was so discouraged by the fact that we had no fund to push our next project, I had resolved in my mind that by the coming Sunday when we would be having our meeting I would announce that we will be shutting down the organization, suddenly that afternoon I heard someone running after him, trying to beckon, I stopped and turned around, he bowed and held my hands and said “Sir I want to thank you for changing my live, I was a drop out, I dropped out of school in JSS2.
I attended your meeting and after two months I went back to school and started from JSS3 am now in SSS2, Sir as I speak I have attempted GCE and have made four papers and it is remaining just one paper to complete my five papers before I proceed to the university. I was so inspired and I said to myself if I must continue to touch one more drop out then I have to hang on, and until now I am still holding on.
Another reason, is the progress we have recorded, today we do not only have a meeting hall where we gather on Sundays, we also have an office space where we carry out some of our operations and meet on a daily basis.
And lastly, I have a very important philosophy in life, which is curled in a song “only remembered by what we have done” I want to leave behind me after my passing away, a positive legacy.
Rhetoric of our time can change the thinking of young people
I believe oratory is the key, the world was formed by words according to my religious n belief. What we all know and believe today were as a result of words, they taught us in class using words and these words have formed many into Lawyers, Computer scientist, etc.
We have to continue speaking those words, in campuses, in schools, in religious gathering, in the street, we have taken the stake high and translate those words into languages that will be understood by our target audience, Pidgin English, Yoruba, Igbo etc.
YOUNG NIGERIANS MAKING THE DIFFERENCE
OLAYINKA TAIWO, AJEGUNLE
Olayinka Taiwo, is a 400 level student of Accounting at the Lagos State University. He is a graduate of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria’s Ajegunle.org project and Daystar Leadership Academy. He currently interns with PIN as an Administrator.
Yinka was an intern with DHL International in 2008 after completing his Ajegunle.org program, and he is a member of the planning committee of Jungle Fever, an annual program in Ajegunle. He is also the Vice President of Uncommon Man Network.
Yinka has served as Assistant Financial Secretary with the Nigerian University Accounting Students Association. He is the convener of the program “During and After School, What Next?” and “Road to IT and Financial Intelligence.” He currently completedoutsourcing work (Accounts) for a New York-based property management firm.
He believes in going to the grave empty as he believes it means passing on all that you know to other people while you are still alive and sharing with them even some mistakes you made.
Onyi Uchegbulam, Abuja
Onyi is a highly dynamic and passionate individual with a rich personality. Her passion is to develop people, especially
while they are still young, in the areas of their inherent talents, skills and abilities, align their image to suit who they are and guide them to make successful careers in these areas.
Onyi is a Personality Consultant; she discovers and manages talents, career counsels and consults in beauty and style management.
Her professional career experience is in Human Resources Management. She has been involved in various aspects of HRM. She served as a Consultant with Leading Edge Consultancy Services Limited where she lead various Executive Search and Selection assignments for clients and was involved in other Human Resources projects such as organizational reviews, manpower audits, training and development, performance reviews and management, among others. She is a Behavioural Assessor, a skill much needed to make an excellent selection judgement/career fit.
A graduate of Microbiology from Abia State University, Uturu, Onyi also holds a Diploma in Human Resources Management and Cosmetology from Alison Online School & Opral Benson School of Cosmetology, Lagos, respectively. She is a student member of the chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria.