Who run the world?!?
GIRLS! GIRLS!! GIRLS!!! STRONG ENOUGH GIRLS!!!
Our #SEGoftheMonth for October is an energetic and assiduous budding Social Worker, Girl-Child Advocate and Entrepreneur, with a mission to inspire teenagers and young adults to live a Chaste, Focused and Purposeful life. Her name is Chichi Ogbonnaya. She is 29 years old and a resident of Lagos, Nigeria where she works with Women At Risk International Foundation.
This is Chichi’s #StrongEnough story:
- Tell us about yourself.
I am the youngest of six children. My dad is a Togolese and my mum is a Nigerian from the Eastern part of Nigeria. I think I am an orphan, as my mum is late and I never met my father.
I hold a B.A Degree in Communication and Language Arts from the prestigious University of Ibadan and I’m in progress of being a certified counselor at the Institute of Counseling, Glasgow, Scotland.
I am passionate about counseling youths and educating teenage girls, especially the sexually abused. I am committed to educating and empowering youths, and I have championed several youth development programmes in the past five years, (with over 3000 young adults as beneficiaries) under JOIN VALUE (Jewels of Inestimable Value), an Initiative I founded as an undergraduate.
2. What are your hobbies (things you enjoy doing)?
Meditating, talking, reading, travelling and sleeping
3. What activities are you involved with in your community?
My team and I organise various programmes within and outside our community and one of such is the Students Development Outreach. The aim of this project is to educate students on how to develop a good self-image and healthy self-esteem. We come up with different themes for each outreach and for this year it was tagged “Confidence is everything”. Our beneficiaries were secondary school students; with major focus on victims/survivors of sexual, verbal, and physica assault. The strategy adopted was to first have a general talk session with the students, a breakout sessions for the boys and girls separately and a confidentiality period with students who needed further counselling i.e. victims of sexual abuse.
This project was spurred by cases of sexual abuse reported by close friends and students in my neighbourhood. We also raise funds to purchase books for the 200 students who participated in the outreach.
This project is an offshoot of the Initiative- Jewels of Inestimable Value (JOIN Value) – which I founded with some of my friends, as an undergraduate at the University of Ibadan.
Another impactful initiative we organise is the annual Conference for young women tagged ‘The Total Woman’– an event aimed towards inspiring females (between 15 – 35years) to live a Chaste, Focused and Purposeful life. Since its inception in 2014, we have had three editions of the event in Ibadan, Jos and Lagos, respectively. We also organise a Christmas party to an orphanage home annually.
4. Who or what inspires you?
I get my inspiration from God. My late mum also is a source of inspiration. As a single parent, she worked hard and priotised our education. She taught me the importance of being hard-working as a woman and believing in your ability to achieve anything you set your heart to. Also, seeing successful women inspires me as well.
5. Is there something you are passionate about? If yes, what is it?
I am passionate about educating girls; especially sexually abused ones.
From experience and engaging survivors of sexual assault, I have discovered that an abused child suffers the loss of confidence and ultimately develops a low self-esteem and this leaves them prone to being further abused as they lack the courage to speak up for themselves or seek help from close relatives and friends. Some of these abused children/teenagers later grow up to be abusive adults who not only abuse themselves through sex and substances, they often times, end up abusing people close to them. My life’s goal is to be a go-to person for the counselling/rehabilitation of these girls (or boys) till they are confident in themselves and their self worth. For now, it’s one girl at a time.
6. What is the biggest challenge you have ever faced? How did you get through it?
My biggest challenge was self-doubt and lack of confidence.
I grew up in a very abusive environment and this affected my teenage years and early adulthood. I covered this weakness up by being unruly and overly rude. I was also ill-tempered and would immediately snap at anyone who tried to correct me for being wrong. As I grew older, I began to detest my disposition to certain issues and my refusal to take the lead in places where I had the capacity to simply because I was afraid. Then I started asking questions and during one of my counselling sessions, the root cause was identified as “a case of child abuse that was unattended to” and that was how my journey to being HEALED began. I started reading books, listening to spiritual messages from notable men of God, read more books; especially the Bible, Joyce Meyers collections and I prayed a lot about it too and God healed me. Completely!
7. What is the biggest challenge that you see facing girls/young women in your community?
One of the challenges facing girls/women in my community is ignorance on the part of the girls and illiteracy for the women. I see a lot of girls who are ignorant of the “power” they possess, most importantly when educated. They are exposed to “models” who have misrepresented the female gender by reducing her to an object of sexual satisfaction and an individual who only needs to be bothered about her physical attributes and paying little or no attention to her intellectual growth. Some of these girls are only concerned about graduating from the university and being married to a wealthy man, they are oblivious to the fact that a woman can be more than a wife and mother that she can be an advocate for change, a leader and make history for generations to come.
Similarly, I have come across women who are clueless about how to raise their girl child. They grew up with little or no education and are not privy to the things their children are exposed to, hence they lack the right strategy to engage these girls. Although I am not a parent yet, but I strongly believe that parenting is a Ministry and parents ought to be DELIBERATE in raising/training their children. Mothers ought to be their daughters’ number one role model; unfortunately these girls see their role models in photo-shopped images of (half-cladded) women they see on social media or the front page of a magazine. However, there are a few girls who are knowledgeable enough to aspire to be the next Oprah Winfrey, Ibukun Awosika, Tara Fela-Durotoye or Chimamanda Adiche.
8. What advice would you like to share with girls/young women in your community?
There’s a saying that goes… “A mind that knows, is a mind that’s free.” Girls should priotise their education, it is the tool to their freedom. In situations where there is a denial of that basic Human Right, they shouldn’t be afraid to speak up. If Malala had been quiet, her voice wouldn’t have been heard; neither would she be a reference point today. Secondly, “Boys can wait”. Girls shouldn’t succumb to Peer Pressure by engaging in sexual activities, such distractions are “unhealthy” for a girl whose priority is academic excellence. They should also get role models and mentors worthy of emulation.
Women should invest quality time in building an intimate relationship with their girls and also be willing to unlearn what they are used to and acquire the skills/knowledge relevant to today’s youths.
9. Who is your favorite female leader/role model, and why?
Oprah Winfrey. She is an ideal example of “aspiring and excelling beyond your background.” She had a very ugly beginning; from being sexually abused to facing several rejections and now…. she is one of the most successful Black women alive. One thing I learnt from her story is this: Never give up on yourself even if everyone else gives up on you.
10. What do the words “Strong Enough” mean to you?
Strong enough means, “You have everything you need to be everything you desire to be regardless of background. Nothing missing, nothing lacking… Strong enough to achieve greatness!
11. Do you have a favorite quote/verse/song lyric?
Quote: You have to CONSCIOUSLY build the future you desire with God in it.
Bible Verse: Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and EVERYTHING else shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
Song Lyric: Chorus of “Fly” (Nikki Minaj & Rihanna)
12. Would you like to tell us anything else?
I am referred to as Aforcetoreckonwith by my friends.
Thank you for sharing your powerful story with us Chichi and for showing us that we can all be overcomers. We admire your courage to stand up to your fears and for helping other girls and young women find their voices and know their power. For this, we celebrate you as our #SEGoftheMonth. Keep believing and achieving!
You can follow Chichi’s work through her social media platforms:
FaceBook: Chichi Ogbonnaya
LET’S HEAR FROM YOU!!!
Do you have a question for Chichi? How has her story inspired you? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.