Oluwatimilehin Onafeso. Social Entrepreneur
Everyone has a passion that lies in them; I knew this since I was an undergraduate. However, what I did not know was how to effectively connect to my inner-self, utilize my abilities, pursue my passion and make a career out of these.
My name is Oluwatimilehin Onafeso. I have a first degree in Plant Science from Olabisi Onabanjo University, and a Masters in Public Health from University of Ibadan. I am a member of Carrington Youth Fellowship Alumni Network (CYFAN), an initiative of the U.S. Consulate General Lagos, and an alumna of WIN with WISCAR, a mentoring program in Lagos for entry/mid career professional women. Currently, I am a participant of the Kanthari International Program, an institute for empowering social entrepreneurs in India.
After completing my NYSC in 2009, I joined the wagon of young Nigerian graduates searching earnestly for white-collar jobs. Having searched for a while, I thought perhaps I would have a better chance of getting a job by getting a Masters degree. In 2011, during my masters program, I came across LEAP Africa’s VLSP (Values and Leadership Skills Programme) application online and applied; little did I know that I had just taken a leap into the journey of self-discovery. At the training, I did not only find the answers to long-dwelling questions in my heart, I also met amazing young resilient Nigerians who were determined to be great leaders in their career.
After the training, which was my first ever leadership training, I became empowered with key personal development skills. During the programme, I learned self-confidence, connecting to my inner-self, leadership for change, moral ethics and volunteerism. It then became very clear to me the next step I should take. I realized my passion lies in helping vulnerable people, so I started volunteering with non-profit organisations. It served me well and was a better option to sitting idly waiting for a white-collar job.
In 2012, I attended the LEAP Employability Program while volunteering in an NGO in Abuja where I became equipped again with tools to become employable. In 2013, I got my first full-time employment with a non-profit in Lagos, with a job description that corresponded with my passion and skills I had acquired while volunteering. I thought that was all about my career, until I got a suitable international appointment in a non-profit organization in Liberia.
Having learnt about leadership for change from LEAP Africa, I voluntarily offered my skills and knowledge in leadership to about 50 Liberian youth, through a faith-based organization.
Being one of the three Nigerians selected, I am currently participating in an international fellowship program in India, Kanthari – a leadership institute that empowers social change visionaries from different countries across the world. Since the VLSP training in 2011, my dream is getting fulfilled by the day as I have been a torchbearer of leadership for change in every town and country I go. Moreover, at the moment, I am impacting about 80 dalit (low caste) girls in a village in North Karnataka, India with skills in leadership and social change through an internship program with a non-profit organization in Bangalore, India.
In all, one special lesson I learnt from LEAP Africa is volunteering. Voluntary work has been more helpful than full-time employment in my over 5 years of work experience. I remain grateful to LEAP Africa for igniting the fire for social change in me, and teaching me the right path to take into my career. My dream (which is already coming to pass) is to move from country to country especially in Africa and Asia, raising an army of young and resilient agents of transformation in rural communities, by helping them to connect to their inner-self, stir up, unleash and maximize their potentials.
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