Like many a Lagos teenager, I wanted to be rich.
When I came to the US for university in the early 2000s, I dreamt about working as an investment banker on Wall Street spending millions of dollars on clothes, houses and favors. I selected Economics as my major in hopes that this training would equip me with whatever special skills I needed to become Madam Money Bags.
But something changed during my second year at my liberal arts college. I was hanging with a group of politically conscious American students and, before I could say “pedagogy of the oppressed”, adopted a revised and newly challenging worldview. Instead of asking whether I was smart enough to get into the Wharton School, this worldview asked me how I was caring for the most vulnerable, the outcasts and the poor in the U.S. and in my home country. I tell you, it made things difficult. By the time I graduated, I had committed to working in the human rights and development field and making no money whatsoever. Ah, to be young and innocent.
Fast forward a decade. I’m an international public servant living and working in a major US city. I have experienced grassroots human rights organizations, large international NGOs, philanthropic organizations/foundations, and multilateral UN agencies. I probably know every type of charity that exists. I even volunteered for a political campaign as a phone banker during the 2004 U.S. Presidential Elections.
A lot has changed since I was that skinny wide-eyed college student. I moved back to sub-saharan Africa to explore my passion for social justice, then returned to the States for my masters degree. I experienced wave after wave of existential crises regarding my identity, my calling and what kind of skills I could even offer. I travelled to other African countries, and some non-African ones. I read, listened, and dreamed.
The urge remains to contribute to the betterment of Nigerian society. I cannot tell you how many times I have googled “best NGOs in Nigeria” just to get a sense of what is out there that I can support. Maybe I’m the only one on the planet who does this? This blog is my attempt to discover and write about what’s out there, when I have the time(!!)
I will write about individuals and organizations helping in human rights, poverty alleviation and social services. I believe wealthy Nigerians should support human rights programs more, in particular. I will profile organizations I encounter through internet research or personal knowledge. I will highlight the work of organizations in other parts of the world as a model of what is possible.
By writing, I hope to encourage myself (and anyone who happens to stumble upon this space) to define a philosophy for giving and to give in a way that meets personal values and goals.