The Countdown to LEAP Africa’s Social Innovators Awards, 2015 continues! With Just FIVE days to go, we are extremely EXCITED about this year’s awards, which will be holding for the first time in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria!
In this week’s #LEAPISPARTOFMYSTORY, we are delighted to share the inspiring story of a truly exceptional Fellow who participated in the 2013 Social Innovator’s Programme and who’s initiative is making a remarkable difference in several communities in Nigeria. Meet Ms. Vweta Chadwick:
Vweta Chadwick, Global Programmes Director, Project ASHA
I am Vweta Chadwick. I believe that empowering women and girls is key to bringing positive changes and sustainable development in local communities in particular and the world at general.
My career started in 2004, when I initiated a support group for post-surgical outpatient women and girls at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH).
Four years later, the support group grew into a support service provider for women fleeing abusive relationships and marriages; it also provided small grants for their small businesses, because we saw that poverty was key to giving women and girls an agency.
In 2012, two years after moving to Lagos from Edo, for further education and deepening of my developmental horizon, I initiated ‘Empowering Women of the Future’ (EWOF).
EWOF is charged with promoting the rights of vulnerable and marginalized young women and girls living in underserved communities, through informal and formal education, skills and vocational trainings and economic opportunities.
My eagerness to undertake further training in order to enhance my effectiveness and chosen career path led me to apply for LEAP Africa’s Social Innovators Programme (SIP) in 2013. As is the wont of SIPA, an applicant has to be a practicing social innovator.
Though EWOF had recorded considerable success, there were some key elements missing. For instance, sustainability, scalability and measureable impacts, were absent.
This changed when I started the Social Innovators Programme.
My key take away was not only ‘doing good, but doing well’. I better understood the importance of collaboration, and, how to institutionalize EWOF, so that, it becomes replicable and impactful, with or without me.
And the SIP not only helped me redesign this project, it enhanced my personal leadership capacity.
As a leader, our values reflect in our work and choices, and, I soon found that my personal life is not quite removed from my professional life. The SIP impressed on me the need to improve myself as well; be accountable, be inclusive in my decision making and responsible within and outside my professional capacity
EWOF now operates in two states in Nigeria – Lagos and Calabar, with plans to expand across Nigeria. Networks developed in other training programmes attended after the SIP will see to the replication of EWOF in other African countries and continents.
However, EWOF was later absorbed into Project ASHA.
Registered in Nigeria in 2014, as an NGO, we support vulnerable senior citizens, teenage girls, young single mothers, victims of people trafficking and disabled people taking control of their lives.
We are also registered in the UK as a social work enterprise, where we support troubled families to engage with services so as to improve the outcomes for vulnerable children and young people. By working directly with people who need our help, communities they live in and other organizations, ASHA helps to advance good governance, democratic values & principles.
A 16-year old headlining a collective; four years later, providing support services and another four years, setting up EWOF will seem a four-yearly quest for growth on my part. However, between 2004 and the present, I have volunteered with women and children living positively with HIV/AIDS and as counselor to prospective adoptive parents, both in Edo state. In the same vain, I volunteered at Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) as a peer educator, the Lagos Empowerment and Resource Network (LEARN) and Amnesty International.
I have also benefitted from programs such as: Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiative, 2013 fellow, United States Institute of Peace Generation Change Leaders, 2015 fellow, Global Change Leaders, 2015 fellow. I currently serve as the Secretary of the Carrington Youth Fellowship Alumni Network and the Global Programmes Director of Project ASHA.
I envision a just and equitable world, where more vulnerable and marginalized women and girls have equal access to opportunities and the internet; where these women and girls lead change online and influence policies, inform national debates and sway public opinions online and/or offline by just being connected.
Though the SIP lasted only a year, I feel deeply connected with LEAP Africa and its responsive team. I know that I can count on its support as I continue to progress.
LEAP Africa is linked intrinsically with my present and future successes.
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