• December 13, 2023
  • Samuel Onyedikachi
  • 0

Every year, the United Nations celebrates International Volunteer Day to recognize and promote the tireless work and impact of volunteers across the globe. The theme for this year recognized “the power of collective action: if everyone did”.

To mark this special day, The International Award for Young People Nigeria in partnership with The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation, the British High Commission and African Cleanup Initiative carried out a series of events and initiatives aimed at recognizing and appreciating our volunteers for the hundreds of thousands of hours they give to their communities. These activities included a Cleanup Campaign by Award Centres, the Cleanup Campaign at Alpha Beach, and the International Volunteer Day Celebration Event.

CLEANUP CAMPAIGN BY AWARD CENTRE

In anticipation of International Volunteer Day, we launched a cleanup campaign which focused on Sustainability as this is a key 2030 UN Sustainability Goal. The objectives of the campaign are to educate young people and the wider community about proper sanitation practices, waste sorting, recycling and composting; promote sustainable sanitation solutions and use of eco-friendly products that reduce pollution; involve members of the community in sanitation activities by volunteering and promote responsible waste management by organizing recycling drives.  

The campaign was carried out by over 740 participants from 22 Award Centres from Lagos, Taraba, Ogun, Osun, Bayelsa state and the FCT. These participating Award Centres were: Herbert Macaulay Girl’s Senior High School; Lagos City Senior College; Birrel Avenue Senior High School; Okota Senior Secondary School; Immaculate Hearts Comprehensive Senior High School; Ilasan Senior Secondary School; Boys Senior Academy; Ilupeju Senior Secondary School; Okun-Ajah Community Senior High School; Eti-Osa Community Senior High School; Lagos State Senior Model College, Badore; Dolphin Senior High School; Gbara Community Senior Secondary School; Community Senior Secondary School, Ojo; Okesuna Senior High School; Rhema Chapel International Churches Kubwa; James Hope College Lekki; Noble Guide Academy; Noble Hall Leadership Academy for Girls; Potter’s Touch High School Yenogoa; Olashore International School; Excellence International School, Jalingo; and Day Waterman College, Abeokuta.

The campaign involved various activities such as cleaning markets, clearing weeds and dirt blocking the drainage, filling potholes on the road, sweeping public spaces such as bridges and expressways, planting trees, creating awareness, cycling and more. The participants worked tirelessly to ensure that their communities were free from dirt and other environmental hazards. They also conducted awareness campaigns to educate the public on the importance of keeping the environment clean and safe.

Adeboya Bolutife, a participant from Herbert Macaulay Girls’ Senior High School located in Sabo-Yaba, shared some details about the school’s recent campaign to improve road safety. According to Bolutife, the students embarked on a project to fill potholes on the roadways. This initiative was aimed at reducing the risk of accidents caused by these potholes and enhancing traffic flow. By taking this proactive step, the participants demonstrated their commitment to making their community a safer and better place for everyone.

Damilare Adeniran, a participant from Boys Senior Academy, Lagos Island highlighted several environmental challenges faced by several residents in Lagos State, including the breeding of mosquitoes in stagnant water resulting in malaria fever. To overcome these issues, he emphasized the importance of cultivating the habit of amending our sewage and dams. He also reiterated the challenge of plastic pollution. He encouraged all relevant authorities such as LAWMA, LASEPA, or LASEMA, to tackle this problem. He also emphasized that as citizens, we all have a responsibility to maintain cleanliness and initiate the habit of recycling as a solution to tackling this issue.

Miss Patience Miracle, a resident of Ilupeju, was inspired by the sight of participants engaging in community sanitation activities. She was astonished at how far society has come and the willingness of young people to contribute to the development of their community. She believed that their efforts would have a positive impact on the community by promoting a clean environment, which is vital for mental health.

During an interview with Herbert Macaulay Girl’s Senior High School in Sabo-Yaba, an anonymous resident of Birel Avenue expressed their admiration for the participants who were cleaning the environment. The resident was impressed by the fact that the participants were involved in filling potholes on the road. He mentioned that in the past, only corps members were known to participate in such activities. The resident commended the participants for their efforts and believed that the community would benefit from their actions.

The cleanup exercise was a huge success, as it helped to improve the overall cleanliness and hygiene of the communities involved. This campaign served as a great example of the importance of collaboration and community involvement in keeping the environment clean and safe for all.

COLLECTIVE CLEANUP CAMPAIGN AT ALPHA BEACH, LAGOS, NIGERIA IN CELEBRATION OF INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY

We also conducted a general cleanup campaign at Alpha Beach in Lagos, Nigeria. The cleanup was attended by participants, Award Leaders, members of the Board of Trustees of the International Award for Young People, donors, supporters and partners. The day was filled with energy, enthusiasm, and a shared sense of purpose.

We spent over four hours cleaning the beach, covering a total of 300km, and collecting over 345.6kg of solid waste and 14.9kg of recyclable waste. The solid waste consisted of plastics, cigarette butts, glass bottles, and other types of waste that had been left on the beach. The recyclable waste collected was sorted and managed by our partner, Africa Cleanup Initiative, who donated the recyclables to an organization that recycles them for T-shirts, bags, and mats.

The event was attended by 47 participants from Herbert Macaulay Girls’ Senior High School, Ilasan Senior Secondary School, Okun-Ajah Community Senior High School, Gbara Community Senior Secondary School, and Dolphin Senior High School. Our partners and donors from LADOL, AFKAR Printing and Publishing Company Limited, STL Trustees Limited, Africa Cleanup Initiative, Alpha African Advisory were also part of the beach cleanup.

Florence Adesola Falaiye, Ph.D., the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of AFKAR Printing and Publishing Company Limited stated, “I am delighted to be a part of this commendable activity, and together, we can make our world a better place through the International Award for Young People Nigeria platform.”

Mrs. Efunike Animashawun, a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Award for Young People Nigeria, shared her thoughts on the importance of preserving our environment and the role that young people can play in achieving this goal. She said, “It’s wonderful to see young people committed to keeping our environment clean. Our youth and our land are two of our precious blessings, and we can all do our part to protect them. By working together and engaging our young people, we can make a positive impact on our environment.”

Mrs. Joke Chukwumah, Director of CIS Lagos and a Patron of the International Award for Young People Nigeria, expressed her satisfaction with the collective efforts of volunteers to clear the beach and ensure a clean and safe environment. She commended the youth volunteers for their dedication to keeping the beach clean and encouraged everyone to do their part in maintaining a cleaner and safer environment.

Iyamera Miracle, a student from Herbert Macaulay Girls’ Senior High School, expressed, “I have learned a lot from this campaign, particularly the value of collaboration. Observing everyone working together as a team has helped me realize that we should not be selfish. There is a lot of litter in Nigeria, and if we continue to collaborate, we can inspire other countries to do the same.”

Bassey Bright, a student from Gbara Community Senior Secondary School, learned the importance of keeping our environment clean, not just our homes. Through teamwork, Bassey and his classmates were able to successfully engage in activities that left everyone happy and fulfilled. These exercises were an important reminder of the positive impact that can be achieved when we work together towards a common goal.

Part of the activities on the day was a certificate presentation for all the participants who joined the beach campaign.

INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY CELEBRATION EVENT

In collaboration with the British Deputy High Commission, we held an event on the 5th of December to recognize and appreciate the efforts of volunteers. This event served as a platform to celebrate Voluntary Service and all the fantastic Award Leaders in the Award family as well as motivate others to engage in volunteerism.

Part of the guests at the event were Award Leaders, Heads of participating Award Centres, donors, supporters and partners of the Campaign. It was an incredible opportunity to highlight the important work being done by the Award, and showcase the Award as a great place to volunteer.

The Deputy British High Commissioner, Mr. Jonny Baxter gave the opening speech during the event held at his residence in Ikoyi, Victory Island Lagos.

“I am delighted to be hosting this event and young Nigerians who volunteer for the good of their community and the world. The Award started in 1956 and it has spread around the world. It is brilliant that Nigeria is part of it. The Minister of Finance, Mr. Wale Edun, is part of the Award and it is remarkable. Taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is a fantastic thing. I have volunteered before. It stretches young people, gives them new skills, and helps the communities they work in. This organization brings people together; it brings people together across religious boundaries and it brings the rich and poor together. Volunteering is critical to Nigeria, 70 per cent of her population is under 30. They can bring amazing changes. Volunteering adds value; it is an important thing to do, and we want to celebrate volunteering today and people who volunteer.”

The National Director of the International Award for Young People Nigeria, Oshoke Joseph Bello said through voluntary service, participants and volunteers continue to add value to humanity, adding that young people take part in voluntary service in more than 130 countries around the world as part of the Award Framework.”

As part of the event a Bronze Award recipient and Silver Award Holder Olanrewaju Opeyemi Mathew, while sharing his Award experience said: “It has been instrumental to making us a better version of ourselves. This forms the foundation where we have learned the power of teamwork in tackling societal issues. The Award has instilled in me a sense of responsibility and to be a better person. It has enabled us young people to learn. I urge everyone to volunteer more to shape our community. Let’s continue to foster a culture of service and empowerment to have a better nation.”

A major of highpoint of the event was the presentation of Awards to all the Award Centres that took part in the International Volunteer Day cleanup activities.

The schools in attendance included: Herbert Macaulay Girl’s Senior High School, Sabo-Yaba; Lagos City Senior College; Birrel Avenue Senior High School, Sabo-Yaba; Okota Senior Secondary School, Okota; Immaculate Hearts Comprehensive Senior High School; Ilasan Senior Secondary School; Boys Senior Academy, Lagos lsland; Ilupeju Senior Secondary School; Okun-Ajah Community Senior High School; Eti Osa Community Senior High School, Sangotedo; Lagos State Senior Model College, Badore; Dolphin Senior High School; Gbara Community Senior Secondary School; Community Senior Secondary School, Ojo; Okesuna Senior High School; Rhema Chapel International Churches Kubwa and James Hope College, Lekki.

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