Awesome Treasures Foundation(ATF) is a faith based Non- Governmental Organisation (NGO) that identifies, develops and deploys transformational leaders to positively affect Nigeria in line with the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs) declared by the United Nations. ATF was founded in 1999 by Mrs Jumoke Adenowo.
This year ATF is holding it’s annual National Women’s Prayer Summit (NWPS) will be held on the 17th of March 2012 at the Indoors Sports Hall, National stadium, Surulere, Lagos. The 2012 theme is Women Against Violence. This year’s event is in partnership with Channels Television in honour of the late EnencheAkogwu that was killed in the Kano city’s multiple attacks as well as the other lives that have been lost due to violence in Nigeria. Other partners of this year’s eventare: LanreDa Silva Ajayi, AD Consulting, Voice of Change, Ty Bello, Omar Gardens, Leap Africa, Zappahire Events, Today’s Woman and House of Tara.
ATF‘s initiatives over the years have attracted over 100, 000 women, young people and children. The NGO has changed lives for the better by empowering women and the youth through the provision of entrepreneurial and skills acquisition to over 6, 000 women, providing basic primary education to inner city children, providing primary health care facilities to over 2000 people, rescuing over 150 young girls in danger of being sexual abused amongst other initiatives.
Every year ATF organises several outreach programs and special project events, one major event in its calendar is the NWPS. These summits are interdenominational meetings of prophetic prayer for all Nigeria females for the release of Nigeria and our future generations and have been graced by special dignitaries including the First Lady of Lagos State, Dame AbimbolaFashola, and the First Lady of Ekiti State, Chief Mrs. BisiFayemi. Both women were honored with the ‘Mother in the Nation’ Award for their contributions to ATF and the nation.
This is the third annual National Women's Prayer Summit ATF is organising. Last year when Kidnapping had become a raging epidemic and women lived in constant fear over their children's safety, our theme was “Women against Kidnapping “. Women at ATF prayed and there is a definite change. This year with the theme “Women against Violence”. Its time for women to register their complete and total opposition to all forms of violence, from that of the terrorist groups to domestic violence against women which has become a silent killer. This is a medium to go straight to God Who has said the Government will be on our shoulders and enforcing spiritually what we desire to see physically. All Nigerian females and males who have faith in God are welcome.
Previous special project events include the 2011 partnership with Daystar Christian Centre, Guiding Light Assembly Ikoyi and RCCG Promised Land for its 3rd Annual “Mothers in the Nation” Prayer Summit that took place on the 19th of March 2011, there was also the 3rd of July 2011 event tagged “Woman of Purpose”- this was an inspirational evening with entrepreneurial women on a mission. This special event was held at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel Oniru, Lagos. The event was to raise awareness about ATF's causes as well to raise funds to finance them. Then the October 16, 2011 at the Muson Centre, Onikan Lagos, Architect Adenowo launched a book titled ‘Prophetic Prayer Manual Volume II’, this book addresses the issues women face in marriage and struggles of motherhood. The event was also used to raise partners for ATF’s causes as the NGO needs funds to successfully complete its projects.
Meet The Change Making Women
I have always been unusually passionate about Nigeria, even as a child. I abhorred and mourned the obvious waste of potential. By the time I was in University I was actively involved in a group praying for Nigeria every month. Faith without works is dead so the next logical step was to give expression to my passion by mobilizing women and youth with a clear and strong sense of purpose who possess the faith and commitment for the desired change.
We aim for National Transformation, as ambitious as that may seem that is our aim. So we raise Transformational leaders who will birth a national renaissance. Our aim is to see a new Nigeria emerge in our lifetime. It is obvious that any intervention no matter how huge and spectacular is long overdue. The main problem with the youth is hopelessness and disillusionment. Its goes beyond the tangibles of a poor educational system and unemployment. The youth need to recover faith in the nation, a love for the nation and see themselves as stakeholders in Nigeria.
No matter how many females we have in leadership positions today, the fundamental problems of the Nigerian female are yet to be addressed. Nigerian women are not even safe! We are not secure In a country where a young girl is bathed with acid for daring to say “No” to a man's advances and the government does not see the crime for what it is – a crime against the state, and the perpetrator walks free as the victim lives in daily mental and physical anguish. It’s worse than slavery! No woman no matter how personally comfortable should be apathetic about such outrageous incidents. What happens to one sister CAN happen to any.So in essence we are being told even our bodies do not belong to us and random “admirers” can lay claim to our bodies? They can even upload their crimes on youtube while the victim is told by law enforcement officials that “you caused it?” this is the worst sort of human rights abuse possible!
I believe if anyone thoughthe/she could exist as an independent nation, then you have declared that you are primarily responsible and competent enough to solve your own problems. I believe that Nigeria is a peculiar black nation, we are too endowed especially with human capital to fail. We should be the sun of the black race, the role model for every black nation.
There have been many situations Nigeria has stepped in to assist other countries and I am proud of the role we played in those instance which I can not go into detail with here. We as a Nation can't go begging others to help us, what problems do we have that we don't have the intellectual capacity to solve? What we lack is the WILL to solve them because of compromised interests and goal incongruence.
At ATF we are at a point where the cords of nationhood are more fragile than a spiders' web. Until we find a national identity and everyone of us can state clearly what it means to be a Nigerian, the ship of state will drift and our haven is not in sight. Until we have a corporate national vision we don't have a true nation. The problems we bemoan – the corruption, lack of focus, waste, lack of meritocracy are mere symptoms of a more deep rooted malaise- lack of vision.
We also believe there is no success without succession so not only do we have key people in key positions we have plans to ensure that will always be the case. Just to name a few -some of our Trustees are Sam Adeyemi, Wale Adefarasin, Funke Felix-Adejumo, Yetunde Holloway amongst other public spirited individuals. Our Advisory Board is chaired by IdyEnang (MD Samsung West Africa) supported by other excellent minds and persons of proven integrity like YinkaSanni (DMD StanbicIBTC),Justice Sola Williams (Lagos State Judiciary), Mary Akpobome, Tara Fela-Durotoye, amongst others, …our Strategy Team has bright young minds like LanreDa Silva -Ajayi, ChiadiNdu, TY Bello, FunkeBucknor-Obruthe, Conrad Adigwe..Our various community impact groups are led by seasoned and passionate women and youth. For instance we have threeJudges on our legal Resource Group.
ATF membership is open to all, male who consider themselves youths or youthful and women. We find that we attract people who are fed up with the status quo and want to make a difference.
LanreDa Silva Ajayi’s role as a member of the strategy team at ATF is one that sees to theprocess ofmeeting the aims of the NGO, which is simply identifying, developing and deploying transformational leaders to positively affect Nigeria.
LanreDa Silva Ajayi has been crucial in making sure that the NGO’s initiatives are met, i.eattracting over 100, 000 women, young people and children. Empowering over 6, 000 womenand the youth through the provision of entrepreneurial and skills acquisition, providing basic primary education to inner city children, providing primary health care facilities to over 2000 people, rescuing over 150 young girls in danger of being sexual abused amongst other initiatives.
She makes use of her position and influence as one of Nigerian’s established fashion designer to raise awareness about ATF’s causes as well as solicit for funds from government bodies, private organisations and individuals to enable the execution of ATF’s projects.
She is passionate about the NGO’s causes; development of women, youths and provision for children hence she is a strong member of ATF for several years.
ToyosiGbede has a passion and has worked with the education team for several years. The education team has a focus to reach out to the children in Nigeria especially, in line with the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs) declared by the United Nations. The aim is making sure that every child has access to basic education, which is the primary school education.
ATF supports the provision of basic education and does this by running several projects within the foundation; one of such projects is the “Project 20”. ATF does this by bringing together about 20 children from state government schools who do not have the opportunity do not good quality education. It is not a hidden fact that state schools are not well equipped with both infrastructure manpower’s and quality teachers, the teacher children ratio is very bad- a class in a Lagos state school could have 80 students to one teacher, how can a child learn in that environment.
In its own little way the foundation steps in, ATF during school holidays runs summer camps for these children where they are provided with sound back up teachings in line with their curriculum. These children have so much potential, some of them are actually gifted so what ATF aims for is giving them an opportunity to leverage on for a brighter future. ATF also works along with parents to get permission to allow their children come out to the resource centre to learn because a lot of their development and growth depends on the parents. We have been working with some of the local schools in the Lagos environs to get these children to attend our free summer camps where they can learn.
Financially, the education arm of ATF has been somewhat independent, members of the group usually contribute to make sure that the projects for each year are executed but we have been open to corporate sponsorships. A few companies and individuals in the past have seen what we do and have willingly donated products for the children.
This year, the educational group has a vision of opening a small school where children can attend without paying any fees, though this is currently done, however we need to expand a little more. The foundation is working on a number of projects at the moment and needs support from companies and individuals.
At ATF, Helen Thompsonis the head of the legal team which main focus is on the legal issues of women. She volunteers her time to assist women and enlighten women on their right and create awareness on the possibility and opportunities available to them. In the case of domestic violence, she educates women on their right as Nigerian citizens, to this effect a brochure has been published where 12 carefully selected rights of Nigerian women have been put together to give a clear vision of what our aim is at the legal group.
The plans for the legal group at ATF this year is to organize a session where women will be educated on restructuring their businesses, i.e. business registration- business name, putting in place a proper business structure and assisting them on how to legally run a business in Nigeria. Nigerian women are enterprising; they only need to be enlightened on how to structure their businesses, and this will make the Nigerian society as a whole better.
In recent times however, emphasis has been laid on domestic violence and we at ATF are working to tackle the issue of domestic violence. The NGO is addressing the issue and it’s effect on women, it is educating women on how to handle the situation when faced with violence in their homes because a lot of women in such situations usually don’t know what to do. ATF understands the Nigerian culture and know that it is not the culture of a married woman to divorce her husband and leave her children and that is not what is being encouraged at ATF, however there are situations that are life threatening where these women need help and that is where we step in.
There are various reasons why women remain in violent situations; one is because of their children as they begin to think about how to care for them. Another reason is that all over the world, women are not yet financially independent or financially powdered as their husbands and the man has the upper hand financially which is a major reason why women tend to stay and get battered, domestic violence is a major cause of low self-esteem in women, hence our aim at ATF is not to encourage women to leave their homes, but for women to be safe.
Women can only be safe when they speak out, by telling someone, which is one of the most important factors when any woman is faced with violence. It is advisable to speak to a close friend or family so that someone else is aware of the situation and help could be rendered to the abused.
If a woman is educated on positive thinking and given a reorientation, she begins to think differently then her brain and mind starts to work differently. At ATF we believe with God we can do all things, hence we owe ourselves a duty to shine through darkest. At the moment we all know what is going on in Nigeria. Nigeria is very hard, depressing & temptation arise everywhere. That is the reason why at ATF we offer practical solutions to issues and reach out so our voices can be heard. We work to make sure that the laws for women are actually implemented by the stakeholders involved- the police and other law enforcement agencies where and when necessary.
Our counseling sessions usually take place at the ATF resource centre in Illupeju, Lagos. There we hold both general and private group sessions to assist anyone that walks in, we also go into the different corners of Lagos to bring help to these women.
At the executive level Tara Fela-Durotoyeassists the founder and Coordinator of ATF JumokeAdenowo as well as being the head of the strategy team.
Fela-Durotoye’s job entails that shepartners with all the groups at ATF as well as identify and clarify the development needs and objectives of the NGO. Additionally, she monitors the progress ATF to ensure that all its aims are met, re-evaluating and adjusting them as needed.
She sees ATF is a platform for women who are in the discovery stage of their leadership potential to harness. According to her, ATF is also a platform for women who are in maturing stage of their leadership cycle to express and give back from their wealth of experience to upcoming leaders for national transformation.
For more information, visit: Awesome Treasures Foundation
The Resource Centre, 9A Tinubi Road, Illupeju, Lagos