“WE'RE STRONGER THAN WE THINK”
LIFE ON YOUR OWN TERMS
After 12 years in humanitarian aid, I transitioned to academia and I'm working on my PhD.
Instead of working for an organization, I have decided to set up my own non-profit to empower survivors of human trafficking for sexual exploitation and educate those working with them in various capacities.
Living on my own terms means looking in the mirror every morning and being proud of who I am and the choices I make. It is knowing that I am living my best life, doing the absolute best I can.
ROOTS AND SEEDS
I'm from Lagos, Nigeria, and lived in Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Fiji, Tonga, Germany, the Netherlands and now Belgium.
WHAT YOUR FOUR YEAR OLD SELF WOULD TELL YOU TODAY
Rock On! Don't hold back and don't conform. Don't try to fit into the mold, remember where you come from, and dance!
Boldness and Adaptability.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH MOMENT
I did not get a job because I had the "wrong" passport (Nigerian). The organisation felt it would be too much work to hire me and process my work permit even though I was perfect for the job.
MOST EXCITING HIGH
I was part of a mission that literally saved thousands of lives, and I have had the privilege of meeting some of those lives recently. They remembered me, ran to hug me, thanked me for ‘saving them’, and for rekindling hope and a belief that there is still good in this world… Nothing beats how that feels, nothing!
MOST CHALLENGING LOW
Closing the chapter of aid work in my life to become a full-time student. Leaving friends and fellow aid workers behind and having to start all over again in Belgium, where I didn't know anyone.
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE
Think long-term. Ask yourself whether a relationship (or a situation or a job) is sustainable in the long run. I received this piece of advice for a relationship, but it is valid for most things.
WORST PIECE OF ADVICE
You have to tone down who you truly are and pretend to be quiet and passive in order to get what you want. I'm bold, passionate, and love debates. I fully embrace who I am.
BOOK OR PEOPLE THAT HAD AN IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE
Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama. He is a true source of inspiration and hope, and his humanity moved me beyond words.
BIGGEST LEAP OF FAITH
Transitioning to academia after over a decade of humanitarian work, that was definitely a leap of faith!
FEAR OR BELIEF YOU LET GO OF
The belief that I would not be able to achieve great things as long as I am a Nigerian citizen because of the obstacles I encounter as a result of my nationality.
IF GIVEN A CHANCE WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY
Start saving earlier and invest in my own future instead of giving it all away without consideration for my future.
Every three months, I find a hotel deal in the city where I live and spend a couple of nights there to sleep and recharge. I don't need to go far away. I find this time spent away from home and my computer extremely re-energizing. No doorbell ringing :)
HARDEST PART ABOUT BEING A PERSON WHO LIVES ON THEIR OWN TERMS
You have to build your credibility without the backing of a big organization. Having to fundraise can also be challenging.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO LESS/MORE?
I'm used to working under pressure, so I need to learn to rest more often and pamper myself through little things like getting a pedicure, even when the aid worker’s guilt kicks in.
Finishing my Doctorate and launching my non-profit. I am in the process of registering it in Belgium and have a couple of projects lined up.
WORDS OF WISDOM
If you feel uncomfortable about someone, something or a situation, nobody else has the right to convince you otherwise.
We're stronger than we think, we're stronger than we know.