Innovation and Civic Responsibility
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Editor Mutiyat Ade-Salu shares a new idea on civic responsibility when it comes to supporting innovation in the Diaspora. Ordinarily, the idea of civic responsibility promotes community service or donations by citizens within
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Editor Mutiyat Ade-Salu shares a new idea on civic responsibility when it comes to supporting innovation in the Diaspora.
Ordinarily, the idea of civic responsibility promotes community service or donations by citizens within a local area or nation. But another way to think of civic responsibility is in terms of the Diaspora. Innovative projects, like The Learning Hub Project, by African-based organizations are worthy of your time and investment as a civilian of the African Diaspora.
Learning Hub Project
Many of us are familiar with the Bring Back Our Girls campaign that began in April of 2014 to help recover over 250 schoolgirls who were abducted from Chibok, Nigeria by the terrorist organization Boko Haram. Africans across the Diaspora marched with elaborate head wraps, wrote letters to government officials, and drove an historic social media campaign with the hashtag BringBackOurGirls – ultimately garnering attention and assistance from media outlets worldwide. There are two major regions of the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign (United States and Nigeria) and Mrs. Adebukola “Bukky” Shonibare is one of the lead organizers in Nigeria. In 2016, Mrs. Shonibare became a Mandela Washington Fellow (through a program created by former American President Barack Obama) and was also nominated for the Person of the Year Award by YNaija.com
When I first learned about the Learning Hub project I was relieved that someone had found a solution (even if temporary) to the continuation of the education of young girls who have been terrorized from seeking one in northern Nigeria. The design seen below was extremely clever because of its durability, portability, and energy-efficiency – ultimately enabling teachers and schoolgirls to move safely while maintaining their lessons.
I caught up recently with Mrs. Shonibare to find out how the project was going and she was generous with details:
“We did a new design to be solar-powered and collapsible. This is aimed at providing education in a more conducive and [child] friendly environment. However, deploying the newly-improved design has been very challenging, owing to the skyrocketing increase in the cost of materials, which is said to be caused by the dwindling FX [Nigerian foreign exchange market]. Weighing this cost, viz-a-viz the temporary nature of these camps, as well as risk mitigation, we deemed it necessary to, perhaps, wait for stabilization of FX, so cost of production can be reduced. In the meantime, we still maintain the old design, while looking out for possible learning spaces in camps that can be renovated and equipped for learning purposes…”
The camps Mrs. Shonibare referred to are called Adopt-A-Camp, a type dwelling for Internally Displaced Persons where those seeking refuge from insurgents can be provided and cared for. The latest report is available for public knowledge of its progress.
The sister project to The Learning Hub Project is her School-In-A-Bag Project, through which volunteers assemble and distribute schoolbags stocked with supplies for children living in IDP camps and surrounding communities. So far they’ve been distributed to the cities of Yola, Maisandari, and Chibok. To surpass her original goal, Mrs. Shonibare says she would like to return to Chibok next month to distribute an additional 1,000 bags.
As if she couldn’t be selfless enough with her time and ideas, she’s also created the EduCreation Fund – a pool of funds to provide scholarships to internally displaced persons and enable them to attend schools that are already nearby.
Mrs. Shonibare’s work is an exemplary model of social entrepreneurship and the opportunities it provides for civic responsibility and investment. Because she will undoubtedly acquire more grants, has the fortitude to continue running these programs and the ambition to expand them to other African countries, I believe donations or seed investments from those of us in the Diaspora would be wise. Africans in the Diaspora are known for being charitable to their own extended families, however the overall stability and educational attainment of Africans-at-large cannot be guaranteed by non-African foreign aid. Our own promotion and investment is necessary for true sustainability and protection of our native lands.
This International Women’s Month, make an investment in organizations like Girl Child Africa. The return will be a more secure future for the generation behind us.