Anambra-born Barbara Aduba is a woman of many parts. On one hand, she’s an accomplished actress and events host. On the other hand, she is a humanitarian with a passion for children and youth. Having recently launched the Young Community Network Initiative (YCN), the one-time child star cum gospel artiste speaks with ROTIMI IGE on her latest initiative and the vision that brought it to life.
As an actress with a day job, why did you feel the need to do something for the youth?
I have come to understand that significance in life comes solely from service, and the purpose of influence is to speak up for those who do not have a voice. It is in giving ourselves away that we find meaning. That is the way God has wired us and our whole existence.
Tell us about the Young Community Network Initiative, where did the idea come from?
The Young Community Initiative is an initiative by the Barbara Aduba Foundation, and our mission is to identify and equip young adults (Ages 12-30) mentally, skilfully and socially to drive societal change. We teach the responsibilities of the young adult to our home, society, and fellow human.
How did it all start?
It all started on social media. What started out as a safe space on a WhatsApp group where young adults came together to share their thoughts on various topics, talk about their challenges and societal pressure, seek counsel and be the change in their local environment blossomed into an NGO. We believe the change we truly seek in Nigeria will start with the re-orientation of the minds of the younger generation. That is to say, do you want to see better structures? Teach due processes, or crave better leadership? Then you must teach accountability in leadership and civic responsibility. We have created an enabling ecosystem where young adults can identify the God-given potential embedded in them, harness it and succeed with the numerous opportunities out there.
Why did you pick Edo State to begin?
Growing up in Edo State and in the home of a clergyman, I was exposed to a lot of people, and I was able to see the shortcomings in my immediate environment. I noticed that not a lot of people were fortunate enough to have access to opportunities and information that I had. I made up my mind to bridge that gap someday. When we started planning the maiden edition of the YCN conference, I decided to start from where the inspiration came from in the first place.
How long did it take to plan it?
About two months. We had several meetings with our partners. I’m really grateful for the team I have, a group of brilliant young minds passionate about impacting their surroundings positively.
Was it deliberate to coincide with the electoral campaign season?
What better time to talk about developing the minds of the future of the country than now? We felt this would be the right time because we are the leaders of tomorrow and to be better leaders, we need to prepare today in other to have an awesome tomorrow. Our minds need to sound in other to elect credible leaders in the coming elections. It is not business as usual anymore.
ALSO READ FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
Where is the place of the government in The Young Community Network Initiative?
Government can do a lot for us, like creating enabling environment for us by supporting and partnering with us in order for us to have a wider reach. The government can also provide numerous opportunities for the people to take advantage of.
Tell us about your dreams and hopes for the next few years concerning this initiative.
We have a goal to train over 5000 young adults before the end of 2024 in free-leadership sessions for impact and civic responsibilities in vocational skills and STEM. We want to take it to all the regions in the country and we cannot do this without partnership and sponsorship.
What was the turnout at the event like and how responsive were the youths in Edo to the initiative?
Our maiden edition of the conference saw about 500 young adults registered and over 300 in attendance. Contrary to popular opinion of the Nigerian youth being unresponsive to educative teachings, skill acquisition training and so on, we saw our youths punctual, ready and hungry to learn. Most of our sessions were interactive and you could see them ask a lot of questions including sustainability after the conference.
Any plans to take it beyond Edo State?
Oh yes. We are open and currently seeking partnerships and sponsorship from various international and local organisations, government parastatals and state governments to spread this vision. We want to be able to reach out to those young adults who do not have easy access to us. We intend to cover all 36 states of Nigeria.
What new projects are you working on, entertainment and humanitarian-wise?
I will be co-producing a feature film in 2023. I’m really excited about this project because it is my first project as a producer. Of course, as an actor, I have filmed a couple of movies billed to be released in 2023/2024, not to forget continuation with Africa’s favourite Telenovela, Tinsel where I play the character of Dr Oge. As I said earlier at the Young Community Network, we have a goal to train over 5000 young adults before the end of 2024 and focus also on job creation and placement. I’m also looking forward to launching initiatives under the Barbara Foundation.