BY JERRY TIETIE
Amukoko is known for criminality and its nefarious tendencies. An area in Lagos thickly populated with average Nigerians as its residents and dilapidated houses forming the bulk of the area which is usually referred to as ghetto community. Growing up in this community by an average child is an uphill task, especially with social ills that often engulfed the community. With all these odds, a child was born in that community without a silver spoon whose name is Victor Okoro. The youthful life advocate stood out among the crowd by transforming lives of youths in the community.
Voice of Change anchorman JERRY ENGOBO TIETIE, encountered him recently and spoke extensively about his life transformation agenda.
I was born June 18, 1982 into the family of Mr. Joshua and Mrs. Doris Okoro. We are five members in the family, two boys and a girl. I am the first of three children. My primary school education was at revival Nursery and primary school, I later moved to Ire- akaril primary to write my common entrance examination into secondary school. I was given admission into Iganmu Junior secondary school, later I proceeded to government college Eric Moore, Surulere to complete my senior secondary school education. Thereafter, I obtained an OND in computer science from Lagos city polytechnic with 2.75.
Odds against growing up
Growing up for me like other children in this community was not pleasant. My father was an applicant all throughout my secondary school days, while my mother was a petty trader. I never bought text books in my secondary school days; however, I managed to pass my examination by simply borrowing text books from children whose parents could afford buying textbooks with compensation of helping them in the examination hall. I completed my secondary school without buying a single uniform or shoes of my own as I will always borrow them from the next graduating students.
I managed to obtain my OND from little earning as a primary school teacher, after which I go to festac town for private coaching and later in the evening return to teach science courses in a tutorial Centre. There were several times I was sent out of lecture class for nonpayment of tuition fees; I even missed several tests because I could not afford handout or textbooks, but I managed to graduate with 2.75 lower division in computer science.
I lived with my parents and siblings in a small one room rented apartment at 24 imam street Amukoko Lagos, a compound with over 50 tenants, but I had to make to do with only two toilets and two bathrooms. Bathing and using the toilet was always a monumental challenge as one would face long queues on daily basis. Having something to eat sometimes could be a bit challenging too. But despite all these challenges, my passion to reach out to young people in my community, motivating and inspiring them was what mattered to me the most,because I was very interested in transforming lives.
Establishment of African Minds International
The establishment of African minds international,” AMI “took effect on December 25th 2005. But we commenced operation January 26th 2006. It is a nonprofit making organization set up to transform lives of youths universally with the primary objective of making society better.
Vision and mission statement
The vision and mission statement of African Minds International, AMI is to transform lives of African youths universally. We want the societies to experience change in totality through the empowerment of African youths universally in all ramification of their aspiration and challenges. The network is without boundaries, we are opened to every African youth that want change in the area of love, sex, relationship, youth development and patriotism. So our network borders on all areas of lives that will make the society to experience growth and development, because the youths in a nation are the future leaders that must be invested upon by the government globally. Transformation of lives and its environment is a universal vision that we all must embrace, so as to bring about national growth and development.
Organizational structure of the network
African minds International, AMI has a solid organizational structure that is put in place for effective coordination and proper organization. We have five (5) persons that constitute the board of trustees. The primary objective of the board of trustees is to play advisory role for the organization. The roles the board play ranges from branding of the organization, managerial savvy, media, publicity and legal service.
They are responsible in handling these areas, so as to put our organization in proper functioning, of course there is an existing constitution that guides the organizational structure to function effectively including our members.
Motivation for vision
Two things have really inspired me to continue with this vision. By the special grace of God, we have been able to affect the lives of youths in this community and its environs that the responses as regard the testimonies and feedbacks are really encouraging. A lot of youths whose lives were a threat to the society had been positively transformed to the amazement of their parents and beloved ones. Most of them that are school dropouts and considered a threat to the society have gone back to school to continue their education. The organization received special commendation from their parents, community leaders and well-meaning Nigerians for the effort we are putting to transform the lives of youths. So this is one aspect that encourages me to continue with this vision.
Secondly, the progress we have recorded so far since inception of the organization. It is really amazing especially when one sees the smile on the faces of these people. It tells us of the grace of God in us which is always available at all times.
God has been faithful to us since we set this vision rolling. Over the years.we have received several awards such as the most organized grass root community service development award 2008 which was bestowed on the organization by the traditional leaders of Amukoko community in recognition of our input in youth growth and development in the community.
In membership, we are making tremendous growth as regards the number of people joining us on each passing day. We started with eight (8) persons, but our recent data base, showed that our numerical growth is about 4,500 people in number. This indicates that in terms of numerical progression, we are making huge progress.Over the years, we have been able to organize special events and programs for youths, bothering on love, sex, relationship, youth development and patriotism, Each of these programs plays host to a minimum of 350 persons in attendance, while naija project plays host to over 1,000 participants. The successful hosting of these events and programs have been amazing. Without resources at our disposals, we were able to receive donations from meaningful Nigerians that really believed in our vision. The imprint of these programs have recorded tremendous value to Amukoko community and its environs.
We are confronted with lot of challenges just as any other organization. We are not able to implement or execute most of our programs due to lack of fund at our disposal. Our members are youths, majority of them are applicants that still depend on their parents for daily survival, so getting fund to run our programs have been quite challenging. We thank God for his divine provision. It is only him (God) we give all the glory. So, basically it is funds that has been the impediment.
African Minds International intends to reach out to all frontier of the whole world. Where there is black African youths, we want to see that black African youths are empowered in all nooks and crannies of the world. So that universally, societies would be a better place for all different races.
Criticism against nonprofit making organizations
In every strata of the society, there is always one impending challenge or the other. The nonprofit making organizations are inclusive. Government should set up machinery in place to curb the activities these organizations. So that they can fulfill the original purpose of their establishment. The Government can use the EFCC to curb the activities of these organizations so as to bring about sanity in the system.
Government should support the various activities of nonprofit organizations in the area of provision of grants or funds, because government alone cannot do it. For us to experience societal reform in all ramifications, government and nonprofit organizations need to partner, so that national growth development can be rapidly achieved. Transformation of government reforms is not really producing the desired positive result, because there is lack of partnership between government and nonprofit organizations. The earlier the better for the nation to experience dividend of democracy
You can reach MR. Victor Okoro on 09093126766