Today we will be sharing our interaction with Samira, a sickle cell warrior. Life is never easy for the sickle cell warriors but she has defied all odds to establish herself and develop her community
Can you please introduce yourself to us?
I am a Village Girl from Rigasa Community, an urban slum in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Nigeria.
I had my first degree in Computer Science and specialized in Networking and Systems Security. I am also a Social Entrepreneur, an Advocate for Social Justice and a Civic Leadership graduate of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, USA.
Can you tell us about your background & how growing up was like to you?
I grew up in Rigasa Community, a densely populated area with over 90% Hausa Muslims settlers. A community with no diversity and lots of violence/discrimination that resulted from cultural extremisms and stereotypes regarding the inferiority of girls when compared to boys, leaving majority of us (the girls) MARGINALIZED and UNEDUCATED.
So my sister and I had to go through stigma for being the only girls going to school amongst more than a thousand people that were living at Makera, an area within Rigasa Community.
How did your growing up motivate you and what impact did it have in shaping your person & personality?
While growing up, I did well at school and enjoyed the support and motivation I got from my parents. That shaped my person, and as I grow older, I kept learning from new experiences that changed my personality.
You are a graduate of Computer Science with a specialization in Network Engineering, can you tell us a bit about your studies and school life?
I am a Sickle Cell Warrior with frequent health issues. So for me, going to school, not missing classes and keeping up with my course work required extra effort.
During my undergrad, I wrote four out of my eight semesters exams while I was on admission at the hospital. I was blessed with many good & supportive friends like KABIRU ADAMU and others, who were always there to study with me on my sick bed, and walk me to the classroom to write my exams.
I would always ask my friends to take me to the class to attend to my lectures even if I couldn’t walk. But despite my health challenges, Alhamdulillāh I was able to maintain 2:1 all through my undergrad and postgrad studies.
You are a SDGs Actor, Advocate for Social Justice, Peace & Development Specialist and founder of The Village Debbo Care Initiative (VDCare), how do you handle all these and still have time for yourself?
I have very little time for myself. My weekends are strictly for advocacies and teaching women and girls at our Haske Edu4Her Literacy Program. During week days, I’m at my work place, where I make the money that pays my bills. I add one hour to my break time to do my SGBV interventions every working day.
What are your principles in life?
My number one principle is being resilient. I never give up on my dreams. I am quite diligent and resilient when it comes to what I want. So I dream, I pursue my dreams and I don’t take self-pity because of bad situations, health issues or whatever challenges that pops up while pursuing my dreams.
You volunteer a lot, what inspire you to volunteer?
Every time I go to the field, what I see kept reminding me of how lucky I am as a person. It makes me want to do more to better the lives of people like me who didn’t get the opportunities that I got.
What satisfaction do you get from volunteering?
Volunteerism for me is incredibly satisfying. My best feeling of accomplishment comes from giving back to the society. After every volunteer work, I go home knowing that I have made an impact in one way or another. As I volunteer, I also learn new things about myself, about people, about my community and beyond.
How many years of volunteering do you have?
My father was a community development volunteer himself. Being guided by him, I started volunteering at a very young age. So I have been a volunteer since 2004.
How many organization have you volunteered for and you are currently volunteering for?
I have volunteered with nine local and international organizations and I am currently volunteering with four organizations, Plan International Nigeria, United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA), Aid Foundation and the Kaduna State Government.
FOR WEB CONSULTANT, BUSINESS REGISTRATION AND GRAPHICS DESIGN, VISIT; KANMEE’S VENTURES
Can you tell us more about your current volunteering activities?
I am a YPA Peace Champion of Plan International Nigeria, working to build peace, tolerance and inter-communal trust amongst Muslims and Christians in Kaduna State. A youth advocate working with United Nations Population Funds (UNFPA) in Northern Nigeria, where I serve as an interface between UNFPA and the youth to ensure that priorities of young people are reflected in UNFPA programs.
Aside from volunteering with Aid Foundation, I also work with the Kaduna State Government as Gender Based Violence Actor in the Kaduna Active Squad against SGBV (KASAS Team), a task force working against sexual and gender based violence in Kaduna.
What is your take on the rise of rape cases in Nigeria and how do you think the Nigerian government and citizens can curb rape cases in Nigeria?
The upsurge of Rape and other Gender Based Violence cases we witnessed in Nigeria during the lockdown was traumatizing. Not forgetting the fact that shutting down of offices, businesses and markets brought men back home, including perpetrators and potential perpetrators. That exposed women and children, including boys to more dangers.
However, Government and citizens can work together to carry out a massive sensitization awareness campaign that will educate people on the need to speak out and work collaboratively in order to remove all sexual predators from their respective communities and follow up to ensure that they are punished for their evil actions.
People should also be mindful of stigmatizing survivors, as that discourages them from speaking out or seeking for help.
When did you officially start The Village Debbo Care Initiative (VDCare)?
I started VDCare in 2014, registered it with the name Haske Women Development Initiative in the year 2017, and later changed it to VILLAGE DEBBO CARE INITIATIVE (VDCare).
Can you tell us more about The Village Debbo Care Initiative (VDCare)?
VILLAGE DEBBO CARE INITIATIVE (VDCare) is a women led non-profit organization with community based approach that works towards the realization of Human Rights to SDGs 3, 4 & 5. The Initiative was started in Kaduna State with the aims of protecting human rights, promoting women and girl’s education and economic empowerment, youth volunteerism, communities’ participation and fighting gender based violence.
In running The Village Debbo Care Initiative (VDCare), what are the challenges you’ve encountered and how did you handle them?
Major challenges encountered were lack of funds, insecurity at some places and resistance from some communities. Stakeholders as communities’ gatekeepers are now our target entry points. We sell our intention to them while making them understand how our work would better the lives of women and young girls in their communities. We have applied for a couple of funding, and we hope that we will soon get a positive response.
Has The Village Debbo Care Initiative (VDCare) been able to achieve what it’s set out to?
Yes it has. Through our HASKE Edu4Her Literacy Program, we were able to formally and informally educate over 8000 women and girls from within and outside Rigasa Community.
Women now know how to read and write, to speak out, to question and challenge stereotypes and inequalities and to stand with me against injustice.
What future plans do you have for The Village Debbo Care Initiative (VDCare)?
We intend to extend our work to all states in Northern Nigeria and some neighboring African Countries in the nearest future, In Shaa Allaah!
Has being a Muslim ever influence your decision in any path you have chosen?
Yes. I did not like the way power craving men were manipulating women, using and twisting religion to cripple and control women and girls in a way that it suits their personal interest. It is one of the reasons why I decided to explore the Islamic perfections of women and girl’s education and financial independence, and share it with the most victimized women.
What is/are your advice(s) for young Muslimahs?
Please, do not just see a problem, complain about it and walk away. As a mother, sister, wife and friend, you have a duty to stand with the weak, for the truth, and for an inclusiveness and justice.