Lagos – Nike Davis-Okundaye, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nike Centre for Art and Culture, says that her centres located in Osogbo, Abuja and Lagos have helped to rehabilitate and empowered several street girls in recent years.
Davis-Okundaye in Lagos on Sunday that the centers trained such girls in art works that brought positive changed to their lives.
She said that the girls who were formerly prostitutes were among the over 6,000 young Nigerians and foreigners that had been trained by her centers in various vocations.
She said that those that had passed through her centres were earning decent living through their productions.
Davis –Okundaye added that many African countries now send students from their institutions to study textile art at her centres.
“The centres also admit undergraduate students from many Nigerian universities for their industrial training programmes in textile design.
“Over the years, my centers have been admitting students from Europe, Canada and the United States of America.
“Also, international scholars and other researchers in traditional African art and culture also visit our centres from time to time for their research works into Yoruba “Adire’’ fabric processing and African traditional dyeing methods,’’ she said.
Davis –Okundaye also spoke specifically on the streets girls rescued and rehabilitated by her centres.
She said that from enquiries, most of the street girls empowered by her centres used to look for job opportunities in Abuja and other cities.
She said that when they could not find any; they began to roam the streets, and eventually they took to prostitution and other social vices.
“When I opened the centre in Abuja, some of the girls came looking for job, I told them the job that I could offer them was handicraft: bead making, and tie-and-dye of African fabrics.
“After teaching them how to make some handicraft and tie –and-dye popularly called “Adire’’, I also organised art exhibitions for them either at the French Embassy or the German Cultural Centre.’’
She added that she was able to achieve her dream for the girls by providing them free food, free learning materials and free accommodation.
Davis-Okundaye added that after the training, she would advise them to train other people.
“I have teachers, these are people that I had trained; I pay them to teach the girls,’’ she said.
The artist said that she once travelled to Italy with 15 people that they were training for further exposure.
“We were able to change the life patterns of no fewer than 4,000 destitute and prostitutes gathered from various towns in the country, by training them in various arts and handicraft.
“Some of them learnt how to use the computers to design patterns on fabrics which were adjudged very beautiful and attractive by indigenous and foreign guests that visited our centres,’’ she said.
She said that several foreign nationals learnt about the existence of our centres through the art works produced by our students.
She said that the foreigners visited her centres when they visited Nigeria.
“They asked me how I was managing to take care of the young people. I told them that it came from the proceeds I made from selling my artworks,’’ she said.
Davis-Okundaye said that she derived satisfaction from the appreciation usually shown by the girls who had passed through her centres.
She said that some of them had been earning decent livings from the skills they acquired from her centres .
NAN reports that Okundaye is a professional textile artist, a painter, a social entrepreneur and a philanthropist.
She is the founder of Nike Art Galleries at Lagos, Osogbo, Ogidi-Ijumu in Kogi and Abuja respectively.
She had organised several exhibitions in Nigeria and outside the country. (NAN)