It has been over two years since the Big Brother Africa 2 finalist, Ofunneka Molokwu , returned to Nigeria after many exciting weeks of being on the popular reality show in South Africa,
Femme Lounge caught up with her to find out what she has been up to since then. Here is what the hardworking and strong-minded young woman had to say:
Your Educational and Professional Background?
I am a graduate of University of Ibadan with a B.Sc degree in Chemistry, also the founder of Ofunneka Youth Empowerment Trust Fund (OYETF), an organization which aims to motivate young people to believe in their dreams and never lose sight on who they want to become. I also consult for Nordica Fertility Centre and have a regular fertility column on The National Mirror newspaper. I also write for a youth magazine, Genexx, which is circulated in over 13 universities.
It seems you’ve had your hands full since Big Brother Africa 2, what else have you been up to?
I have been in a movie and soap opera, and I have also been doing public speaking in Universities and youth gatherings. To mention a few, I was at Babcock University, Youth Development Zone at the Calabar Carnival, and recently at Redemptorist’s Youth Week held in Ibadan
I also presently write a regular fertility column for T.W, a female oriented magazine, and a youth magazine called Genexx, which is circulated in about 13 universities. I also recently recorded my own segment on a female focused T.V show, called Every Woman’s World which is shown in at least 5 states of the federation.
So what is the Ofunneka Youth Empowerment Trust fund all about?
Ofunneka Youth Empowerment Trust Fund (OYET-F), is a membership based not-for-profit, non-governmental and non-sectarian organization, established in December 2007 with the purpose of empowering youth to become contributing members of our society, through educational schemes, talent enhancement programs, and volunteer opportunities which we believe will help build self esteem and confidence.
It has as its major sponsor, Multichoice Nigeria, with Idea Builders, Aji-no-moto, ASSEED (African Sustainable Small Enterprise Export Development Foundation), Educare Trust, C& L production, Univoice Media Concept, Flaunt Africa, New York and Mrs. Oluchi Orlandi (nee Onweagba) the first winner of the M-Net Face of Africa, supporting us.
We believe that positive youth development orientation involves shifting attention away from concentrating on problems, and moving towards increasing young people’s exposure to the positive and constructive activities that nurture healthy, responsible, and compassionate young people. We also believe that positive youth development has a dual focus. First, it is about providing opportunities and positive relationships that help youth gain skills and competencies they need to be successful. Second, it prevents involvement in negative self destructive behaviour, thereby enhancing their ability to deal with life challenges.
Where did the inspiration come from?
Well I am a young person, so I’m inevitably helping myself, by helping these young ones…laughs. Actually, having interacted with young people, both during my service year and on daily basis (more now than ever before), I realized that majority of them have lost focus, such that they don’t seem to have any positive goals which they hope to attain in life and are seriously lacking in self-esteem and confidence, especially the female gender (whom I tend to defer to, for obvious reasons). I just felt that I needed to stand up, be a change agent, by doing the little that I can in building our workforce of tomorrow and leaders of today (our youth). Many of these young people need to be mentored and guided, because most of their parents don’t really have time to do so while working or earning a living.
What do you hope to achieve with it?
In the long term, we hope to build a youth centre in Delta State, to cover all the core areas which affect young people, in terms of education, skills acquisition, building their mental capabilities, to mention a few.. Right now we have acquired landed property. For short term goals, we are setting up libraries in public schools and reading clubs, to be backed up with our tutoring/mentoring initiative.
Tell us about your ongoing projects with the youths-
We are presently setting up libraries in public schools, with 4 schools selected in Lagos. Right now, we have commenced on the pilot phase, with Mrs. Oluchi Orlandi’s (nee Onweagba) alma mater (a girls secondary school in Lagos) and speaking publicly to young people, both male and female.
Running a not for profit organization can be really tasking, what has been your challenges?
Just stating them, I’d have to say, funding, volunteers, sponsorship, that is, in cash and kind donations.
Any fulfilling moment on this journey?
It would have to be, the positive feedback we get from youths after every talk we have with them; also Multichoice Nigeria setting up the trust fund account for Ofunneka Youth Empowerment Trust Fund and people wanting to volunteer and donate to our projects.
Most successful women have had to climb on the shoulders of others to have a clearer view of the road ahead them, who are your own mentors?
My parents, they thought me independence, which is why I was able to start working at age 19, they allowed me to explore, make my own mistakes and were always there to catch us (my siblings and I) when we fall.
Another mentor is also Mother Theresa, along with several women along the way who have set me on the right path, given me good advice and made several references which have turned out to be quite helpful.
Your greatest strengths and skills that have been particularly of help in achieving this.
Well I am a hard worker, quite optimistic, passionate about whatever I involve myself in. I believe I have great presentation skills, which were gotten as far back as when I did my I.T in chevron and recently from working with Nordica Fertility Clinic, Ikoyi, also, having run a family business for almost 2 years,
I am quite independent, with above average I.T competence & computer literacy, an effective planner and organizer, risk taker, and am not scared to explore and make mistakes, which I believe makes me a good leader and entrepreneur.
What significant life lessons have you learnt on this journey?
Never to give up, patience and faith even when several doors are slammed in your face, tolerance, never to take things at face value. We can all be change agents, just need to look around and within to find yourself and what you have to offer.
What do you think are the success essentials for today’s young women?
Focus, determination, confidence, resilience, hard work, equipping yourself with information is also very key, and ultimately spiritual connection with your supreme being, who to me is my God.
What’s the future beckoning you to?
To be an acclaimed Social Entrepreneur, which would mean in the next 5- 10 years, I hope to see Ofunneka Youth Empowerment Trust Fund (OYETF), running effectively, with me playing a solely supervisory role, setting up a youth center in Delta State (so far we have acquired landed property, thanks to my father), this should cover the Niger Delta region. I hope to be able to, with OYETF, adopt as many public schools as we are able to, in order to revitalize our educational system, which is ailing and seemingly irreversibly too.
I also see myself becoming an accomplished counselor, dramatist and writer, so watch out for my Memoirs, amongst other books I have planned. Finally, I intend to be married with at least 2 children, well as God decides.
Tell us one thing you know for sure-
I will succeed for certain, no matter what challenges I am faced with in life.
Where and how can we know more about your work?