THE VOLUNTEER STRIDES OF A SAHARIAN (FEBRUARY 2020)

March 11, 2020,

Lagos, Nigeria

Tell us about yourself

My name is Prowess Richard-Chukkas. I work in the Business Innovation team of Sahara Group as a Business Technology Analyst. I have been in that role for a little over nine (9) months. I am originally from Delta State, Nigeria, though I grew up in Lagos State. I am an avid reader and a food enthusiast. Music is one of my favorite things in the world and that’s why I never go anywhere without my headphones or my speakers! I am most at peace in libraries surrounded by giant shelves of books, I enjoy writing stories, I love all things film, and I’m a sucker for good conversations, especially with children. I am a technology-loving creative so it’s not hard to see why I am in the innovation space. I am also an advocate for quality education, youth empowerment and helping people preserve their authenticity. This is apparent in my work with Mission28, a non-profit with a mission to give youth access to the resources they need to reach their true potential. 

What’s your motivation for volunteering?

My motivation for volunteering is “People”. Volunteering gives me an avenue to shape narratives. I get to touch people’s lives and shine a light in dark circumstances in ways that are meaningful and true. I get to inspire hope by sharing myself; my time, my energy, my story and my experiences. It is breath-taking to see how much of a difference lending one hand, or one voice can make. By volunteering for causes I care about, I get to contribute to my community or change the mind-sets of people for the better. I get to do something about situations that I am concerned about.  It is simply magic! 

Describe your volunteering experience in the February Clean Love Campaign? 

It was quite unexpected and exciting, mostly because February 14 was my first time speaking on the radio, and I spoke on 2 radio shows! At first, I was not sure if I could do it, but the more comfortable I got, thanks to those that accompanied me, the more confident and inspired I became. I was in the zone! I was really honoured to lend my voice to the cause. The campaign really opened up my mind to the dangers that exist in our world as a result of drug and substance abuse which was really enlightening and quite educative. Not enough conversations are happening around it as far as I am concerned because the statistics are alarming. It was a topic that I hadn’t gotten an opportunity to talk about. I really am grateful, because I felt like an ambassador for my generation. And I got a #CleanLove T-Shirt! That was cool.

I am really impressed with the Foundation’s work with secondary school students during entire month; getting them to open up about drug and substance abuse and organizing chess tournaments for them. I particularly enjoyed picking out titles of books to gift the winners. I really love books and I am always excited about the prospect of sharing them with people, especially young people. 

What contribution or achievement are you most proud? 

I got a job as an actress at the same time that I got admitted into secondary school. So, I was a child actress all through my secondary education till my second year in the University. Balancing both worlds was quite a challenging feat for a young girl, especially because I chose the science and engineering path despite my career, at the time being, in the entertainment industry. I am extremely proud of the way I handled myself during that period in my life, with the support of my parents of course, and I am in awe of how I was able to excel in both fields. I am very grateful for the resilience that experience taught me. I am certain that it has made me into the person I am today; an artist and an engineer wrapped into one: an innovator.  

What other organizations or causes do you support or volunteer for? 

I absolutely support causes that are geared towards the development and empowerment of people especially youth because I know that we young ones are the future of the world. As a result, I volunteer with a number of organizations within this space such as TedX, Mademoiselle Foundation and of course, Sahara Foundation. I’m involved in activities like speaking to young people, planning or organizing events, writing, and teaching little kids.  

I currently lead Mission28, an organization set up with a vision to bring light and hope to the world by preserving the authenticity of people through various media such as leadership, ministry, mentorships, creative impact projects, exhibitions, trainings, development schemes etc. Our mission is to empower youth by giving them access to the resources that they need to reach their true potential and accomplish their purpose. We seek to create a community that teaches empathy, inspires selflessness, and fosters lifelong positive friendships. We intend to give people a platform to express themselves, teach others, and transform lives by sharing their stories with the world. 
 

Do you know about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? If yes, what do you think of them? 

Yes, I know about the SDGs. Interestingly, I first heard about the United Nations(UN) goals in my early teen years, the era of the Millennium Development Goals. I remember that I had the opportunity to represent my school at the time by delivering a speech on International Youth Day to an audience that comprised mostly of UN ambassadors visiting the country. So, as you can imagine, when I first heard about the SDGs, I was psyched! 

I think it is inspiring that we have not given up on our world yet. Like I said before, I am very passionate about anything that concerns the empowerment and development of youth, especially Nigerian youth. As a result, I find that I tend to gravitate towards causes that revolve around Goals 4, 8, and 9 (Quality Education, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Industry Innovation and Infrastructure). I must say that I’m still learning so much more about the SDGs thanks to the initiatives put together by the Sahara Foundation. 

What message would you like to share with others about volunteering? 

Volunteer! Whenever you can. Wherever you can. How ever you can. Never pass up an opportunity to contribute to the development of your immediate environment or community. I PROMISE you that you will be all the better for it. I have found that we learn so much about ourselves and our world when we decide to take action and follow through. Volunteering opens up your mind and changes you in ways that are inexplicable. I highly recommend it. You never know who or what you may discover on the journey.