…as she forms foundation to help the mentally challenged
By Chris Onuoha
Yetunde Savage is a former “Miss Face of Nigeria” beauty pageant. The Lagos born beauty queen recently set up an agency for the mental health and first aid support group community programme that focused mainly on youths who are victims of mental health challenges. In this interview, she talks about the project and others.
After winning the maiden edition of Face of Nigeria beauty contest, you didn’t waste time in embarking on projects that include youth empowerment program and football contest in Ikorodu, Lagos State. How has it fared?
After winning the contest, myself and the Face of Nigeria management felt it was best time to keep the momentum at the highest, and that was when the Ikorodu football tournament was flagged off. It was a time when the crime rate in Ikorodu was at a critical stage. The success of the tournament was in bridging the gap between empowering the youth and curtailing the crime. Hon. Gafar Bolowotan, Lagos State House of Assembly member and other resource persons helped to make it happen.
One would have expected you to go into modeling, acting or other celebrity engagements as a beauty queen, but you chose to impact the less privileged in the society. What inspires such spirit of down to earth focus?
Although I am into modeling, brand endorsement deals and a fashion stylist/designer, there is always more to life. Given how things are in the country, we can only do our best to help one another, I was born and raised in those parts, and I know what it means, going through life challenges. Giving back to society and helping in the best way I can, is the motivating factor.
Recently, you initiated yet another heart touching program called “Mental Health/Drug addiction support community project. What prompts this initiative?
I suffered a bit of mental health and depression while growing up. It is not an initiative born out of boredom. It is actually my life in summary. When you are at that state of mind or condition, you become vulnerable to drug addiction including higher levels of depression.
This is the reason I created an NGO called, ‘F.A.L.L.E.N’ foundation. The aim is to reach out to youths in such situation; mental depression, drug addiction, sexual violence, trauma and related cases, interact with people and allow them to be free and discuss their problem with us. The foundation helps people in the early stage of depression before it worsen, and also creates avenues for rehabilitation to the ones grossly affected.
Are you in this project alone or with other resource persons?
It is a huge project though, and I couldn’t have done it alone. There are other helping hands but the support has not been encouraging. I am working with some local agencies that helped to facilitate awareness on our first outreach. Like I said the project is enormous, we hope to attract individuals and other private agencies’ attention to actualise the vision.
Moving forward, I see consistency as an art of achieving anything. I want to carry on with this project until many youths within my reach are saved from the traumatic situation…
Nigerian youths seem to be living on the fast lane today. Do you see that as some of the reasons for rise to criminality in the country and in what capacity will your foundation wade in?
This is true to some extent because we are in the information technology age. Social media and the internet are part of the problem. The youths are grabbing the rich information it gives and using it negatively. We cannot stop this but we can only create a cultural balance and orientation as a people to always remember who we are and what we represent. It will be a collective effort of everyone to educate the youths on good morals and consequences of criminality.
Could you tell us how many people that have benefited from your outreach projects?
So far, over 100 persons have benefited. The team visited Surulere in Lagos mainland recently to conduct an awareness drive and seminar. The response was very encouraging. We conducted counseling, gave out food and home essential needs including cash to the most affected. We will continue to do more in other cities in Lagos.
In the near future, where do we see Yetunde and her moves to help the poor in the society?
My passion will always drive me to do more things, especially for the less privileged. It’s my intuition. I hope to take it to a continental level in the near future if God permits because some African countries are living below poverty level.
As a decent young promising Nigerian woman, I believe hope will keep me going and doing good.