It is not every day you encounter a student as focused and resolute as Owobo, the founder of Youth With a Difference-a faith-based, not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to empower youths and teenagers to discover, develop and deploy (the 3D concept ) their full potential and uniqueness in Christ so that they can stand out as true role models in life. The ingenious young man draws from a background of growing up in a community where immorality, early teenage pregnancy, school drop-out and drug addiction amongst young minds were the order of the day to fuel the embers of his dream-turned-reality.
Though often times inundated by funding challenges, Owobo is quick to add “in everything, give thanks to God.” If there are more Owobo’s in our generation, then the future is truly bright!
KA: Youth With A Difference …What was the genesis of this dream?
Owobo: I would start by giving all the glory to God for giving me the opportunity and privilege to live my dream and to make impact in the lives of others. Actually, it all started right from childhood. I have always had this huge passion and desire for youths and teenagers. I had this burning desire to create a platform where young minds would be motivated and inspired to make a difference in life, owing to the fact that I grew up in a community where immorality, early teenage pregnancy, school drop-out and drug addiction amongst young minds were the order of the day. It became a burden in my heart to put a stop to these acts: therefore the establishment of Youth With A Difference (Y-WAD) became imperative. It was founded on 3rd October,2011 back in school when I was in my second year, with some group of friends, who had the same desire for impact also. I shared the vision and mission of Y-WAD with them and they believed in it and that was how we built the Y-WAD TEAM. As a team we met with the elders in the community and shared the vision and mission of Y-WAD with them which they believed in; they encouraged and advised us on how to go about it. That was our the humble beginning 3 years ago.
KA: How would you describe Y-WAD? Is it a foundation? A fellowship ? An NGO?
Owobo: Y-WAD ( acronym for Youth With A Difference) is a faith-based non-profit organisation for youths and teenagers. Y-WAD is centred on empowering youths and teenagers to discover, develop and deploy (3D concept ) their full potential and uniqueness in Christ so that they can stand out as true role models in life. It has Kabba ,Kogi State as its operational base.
KA: Kindly take us step by step on the goals and activities of the Y-WAD from inception to the present moment: how are its activities funded?
Owobo: Like I said earlier Y-WAD is a faith-based non-profit organisation; it is an organisation of youths ,by youths and for youths. It has uplifting spiritual and moral standards for youths and teenagers as it vision. Y-WAD core values includes :spirituality, creativity, excellence, purity, love, leadership and vision.
Y-WAD uses the following platforms to achieve its goals; the Youth With A Difference annual conference, Y-WAD summer camp, Y-WAD Academy (seminars, workshop, mentorship programs & vocational skill training), Y-WAD Campus/school tour, community activities, Y-WAD online (website:www.youthwithadifference.org; twitter:@ywadgroup), publications (newsletters and magazines) and so on.
The Y-WAD team have organised several successful events since inception in October 2011 in Kabba, Kogi state and have received awesome feedback from participants and as well as requests to join the team.
The Y-WAD Annual conference organised by the Y-WAD team yearly in Kabba with more than 200 young minds in attendance, has helped participants to discover, develop and develop their individual potential to make a difference in their communities. The annual conference usually features activities such as speeches from outstanding keynote speakers ranging from the business world to the creative industry; interactive sessions, group discussions, presentations, inspirational stories and the likes and necessary measures are put in place to monitor and follow up participants after the event. This year’s annual conference is tagged: RISE ABOVE STATUS QUO, and is billed for 26th December,2013.
Y-WAD has made maximum impact in the lives of the young minds in the community through its annual Y-WAD Academy, where participants are exposed to different activities such as mentorship programs, workshops and vocational skills training, sex education/enlightenment and trainings to ensure that they adopt, imbibe and live by a sustainable value system.
The organisation has a monthly newsletter with secondary and primary school student as its audience. The newsletter is distributed to them for free and features inspiring and motivating stories, academic tips, health tips, news and information.
The team also embarks on community outreaches by visiting orphanage homes, rendering volunteer services and mobilising support for transformational projects within the community.
As regard the issue of funding, the organisation is presently funded through the personal donations of the team members, and others individual donations and goodwill. We hope to get partners, donors and sponsors on board to support this initiative either contributing in cash or non -cash resources.
KA: Is this a purely Nigerian/African initiative, do you foresee Y-WAD as a trans-continental enterprise?
Owobo: No, it is not just a Nigerian/African initiative. Y-WAD is a structured model that can be replicated in any other part of the world and to the second question, my answer is yes. Y-WAD ,though still at its early stage has a global perspective and global impact in view. We have the intention to reach out to other parts of the world, to have different Y-WAD teams in different countries with the headquarters right here in Nigeria; with the ultimate goal of helping young minds Discover, Develop and Deploy their God given potential.
KA: In another decade what impact do you foresee the Y-WAD having on the society and the nation at large?
Owobo: I envisage Y-WAD having a huge impact in the lives of Nigerian teens and youths, whereby most Nigerian young minds would be empowered to discover, develop and deploy their potential and stand out as true role models for other youths and teens to across the world to emulate. I forsee that in ten years from now, teens and youths would no longer settle for mediocrity, nor live a live bound by addictions, negativity and defeat.
KA: What are the major challenges you encounter in keeping Y-WAD operational?
Owobo: I would answer this question firstly by saying “in everything give thanks to God”. God has indeed been faithful. The journey so far has not been smooth, though nobody told me it was going to be smooth.
One of the major challenges I have always encountered is in the aspect of adequate funding to embark on our programs. Raising money and other resources for our events are usually difficult, but in the long run God always proves himself mightily. And again I try to concentrate on my studies; managing other organisations on campus where I occupy leadership positions and manage Y-WAD has also been a major challenge but God has been faithful, I am almost through with school and I would have more time for the organisation.
KA: Up, close and personal then; what is your ethnicity? What are your favourite memories of childhood?
Owobo: I am from Kabba in Kogi State; though we speak òwé as a language, we also speak Yoruba as well. Childhood for was quite interesting, I grew up in Kaduna State, in an environment with few Hausa but dominated by the Igbo and other tribes. I have a lot of memories I cannot forget in a hurry but I think the ones I miss the most are from when I was very young; I remember playing football matches on a cemented floor with the cover of bottles drinks we called ” cantan” then. We played against each other from the group stage to the final, where one person would emerge as the winner after defeating other teams and would be presented with the world cup, which we designed ourselves using jik containers. I also remember going out with some group of friends to a small river to bath after coming back from school without notifying our parents and when we eventually returned, my mummy would be left with no option than to punish us by asking us to kneel down and lift up a stool at the same time. Childhood for me was fun filled.
KA: What did you study? And where were you trained? What were the highlights of your educational journey? Is there an end to learning, formal or informal ?
Owobo: It would surprise you to know that I am still studying; I am in my final year as an Accounting student of Kogi State University, Anyigba. I also have a National Diploma in Business Studies (marketing) from Kaduna Polytechnic from 2006- 2008,Where I graduated top of the class. I did my one year industrial training experience with Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company limited in 2009. Then in 2010, I received admission from the Kogi State University to study Accounting. I attended St. Augustine’s College Kabba, for my secondary education and Tender Nursery and Primary, Barnawa, Kaduna for both Nursery and Primary School education.
To me there is no end to learning ,whether informal and formal. Learning is a lifelong activity. We engage in learning all through our lives and existence on earth, we only stop learning only when we are dead. I will keep learning while I remain on earth.
KA: Aside from running Y-WAD what other pursuit’s do you undertake? Hobbies or a career etc.
Owobo: I do a lot of activities. I am a writer, I am also a blogger. I have a passion for social media and entrepreneurship. I am also a member of SIFE(Students In Free Entrepreneurship) now ENACTUS. I am also a HIV/AIDs Peer educator; I love spreading the message of HIV/AIDs and Stds, and because of this, I am the coordinator of a Health organisation in my school. I hope to become a Chartered Accountant in a few years and hopefully work in management consultancy firm. I play lawn tennis and I do video editing and graphic designs. I do a lot of drawing and painting when I am not busy.
KA: in the face of obstacles, what are your guaranteed solutions?
Owobo: I see problems and obstacles as opportunities in wolves’ clothes. I believe once you have the guts and innate passion to get something, every obstacle becomes a springboard. In the face of obstacles I run to God the author and finisher of my faith. He has indeed been by Heavenly and Earthly Father. My family is my biggest fan, they support and give me advice. My friends and mentors are also not left out. They have always been supportive in time of problems and challenges.
KA: Do share five things about you which your friends would be surprised to learn?
Owobo: Funny, what do I have to share? Ok.
1. I believe my female folks would be surprised to know that I know how to cook, pound yam and make soup and stew.
2. My friends would be surprised to know that I go to the farm and I have a poultry as well.
3. Of course, this would be surprising; I also sin; temptations beckon but with God’s amazing grace I continue to strive.
4. It would also surprise my friends to know that I have never gone to a computer school or done any Computer course but I know how to make use of the computer perfectly.
5. Surprisingly, I have a phobia for blood and medical related stuff, but I also have this passion for health related issues and advocacy as well.
KA: If you were President for a day, what change would you make to the polity?
Owobo: Though I don’t have a flair for politics, if I were to be President for just a day, I would bring a lot of change. I have this list of what I want Nigeria to be. I call it My Dream list. If I were to be President, I would make my dream a reality. Let me quickly share some with you.
1. I dream of a Nigeria where every Nigerian child have access to quality education.
2. I dream of a united, stable and peaceful Nigeria.
3. I dream of a day where every Nigerian would have uninterrupted power supply.
4. I dream of a Nigeria where every citizen would have adequate access to good health facilities.
5. I dream of a Nigeria where there would be an end to poverty, inequality and unemployment.
6. I dream of a where the Government would place high priority on human capital development and industrial development.
KA: Life for Owobo is…….
Owobo: Life for Owobo is a place where each of us is endowed with innate resources that enables us to achieve all we’ve ever dreamed of and more. What we all need to do is to discover, develop and deploy such innate resources to make a difference in life.
KA: Inspire African youth in one sentence.
Owobo: Don’t quit because you are giving up, but quit because you are going up and anytime you have the opportunity to make impact, embrace it with all your heart.
KA: Many thanks Owobo Olorunyomi for granting us this inspirational interview. We believe an African somewhere has received some motivation and inspiration to achieve greatness. From Konnect Africa, we say, “Keep rising”.
Owobo: You are welcome.