Campaign Update

We Still Dance

Olanike
Posted December 27, 2016 from Nigeria

There is never a lacklustermoment when women come together to support one another. Indeed, when we rise up and hold each other’s hands, our ingenuity becomes unleashed and everything changes progressively! This is how best I can describe and sum up my experience in the World Pulse community and in other circles of women’s assemblage that I engage with both online and in real time. Looking back at how far I have come, and how a once isolated journey of changemaking in the environmental sector has fast become propped up, I am indeed grateful to each and every one who has been a wellspring of inspiration and motivation.

Daily, I live with and breathe a deep sense of care for nature, so much that it constantly compels and propels me to address environmental challenges in ways that empower women. Before I go on to share more about my experience as an environmental and women’s rights advocate, I must emphasise that I am a believer in development that is driven by a progressive partnership between men and women everywhere. As I love to put it, women’s empowerment and gender equality is never a rivalry, contest or competition between men and women. Rather, it is a call to a mutually sustaining and beneficial partnership.

Only recently, I was opportune to attend the 2016 Nigerian Clean Cooking forum held in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. There was just no way that I could have given up an opportunity to participate in the epoch making event. Surprisingly, however, the venue of the event was packed full of men. I just couldn’t help but wonder where Nigerian women were, when an issue that directly concerns and affects their lives was being debated. It is such instances that keep me on my toes and fuels my passion for women’s active engagement in the environmental sector.

Among other environment related problems, the issue of clean cooking remains dear to my heart because no woman should have to die from carrying on an age long traditional responsibility of feeding her family. Globally, women have continued to pay a costly price to feed their families, as many rely on inefficient cooking fuels and stoves. Such cooking is often done in poorly ventilated dwellings and kitchens resulting in exposures to health damaging pollutants.

Current cooking practice in Nigeria is such that over 70% of households in urban areas, and over 90% of those in rural areas still rely on traditional cookstoves that use firewood as fuel. The consequences remains grave as a World Health Organization (WHO) report states that Nigeria tops the list of countries where women suffer various ailments resulting from the use of firewood. The numbers are growing while the women are ill informed about this development. Of course, the condition of overexploitation of forest resources also tells a cheerless tale.

In 2015, I embarked on an investigative mission influenced by the WHO report. I followed up by publishing my findings in my World Pulse journal and my World Pulse sisters took notice; as I received highly encouraging comments and private messages, established game changing connections and the issue gained wider exposure. TIME Magazine also found and published the piece!

It is worth mentioning that I also received periodic seed donations from a member of the World Pulse community who reached out to support my cause. With the funds, I was able to launch a clean cookstoves intervention on the platform of my organization [Women Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE)], which has since blossomed into a project that is now helping my organization work towards building a movement of women clean cookstoves advocates and entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

Only recently too, my organization was also able to raise $485 on GlobalGiving, a crowd funding website. The funds helped us deliver a four day empowerment workshop and also donate 50 clean cookstoves to a number of needy women at an Internally Displaced Persons camp (IDP) located in Nassarawa State, North Central Nigeria. The primary beneficiaries were made up of 28 widows and two other married women; all victims of the terrorists activities which engulfed and destabilized North Eastern Nigeria.

We cried, laughed, ate, danced and journeyed together; accepting the need to release the past, embrace the present truth, and take on the onus of transforming the future. Of course, when women thrive, communities thrive too! It was such a wowing experience as I witnessed the transformation each woman began creating for herself. It is called 'Personal Agency’!!!!

“Woman! Don't let anything steal your joy. These women have been broken, hurt and despaired...yet they still dance. We managed to learn the dance steps and after a few days, pain was turned into power”, recounts Carolyn Seaman, a World Pulse sister who also participated in the workshop; and alongside her husband generously produced a video that covered a portion of the experience.

Beyond delivering the content of the empowerment workshop, WISE was able to give each of the participants a gift of one clean cookstove. Twenty other women in the community also received a clean cookstove each. For each woman who got a clean cookstove, it's surely a new dawn—no more long risky walks in search of scarce firewood! No more stinging and watery eyes!! It's an end to smoke inhalation from their three-stoned/traditional-tripod fireplaces and fumes choked kitchens. I sure wish we had enough cookstoves to go round every woman in the community; as they very much desired to partake. We have got 120 more women to reach out to in the community and with God on our side, we will make it happen.

Advancing women’s position, needs, concerns, rights, roles and responsibilities is at the heart of my change making walk and talk. By the day, I am contributing towards moving women from the place of being change seekers to change makers and change leaders. Bringing my dream Women’s Eco Learning Centre to reality is a one stop way of bringing women in my community together within a safe space where they can find and drive solutions that will contribute to a sustainable future for all of humanity. As a World Pulse Impact Leader, I now have a team of accomplished women who are supporting me round the clock to change the status quo for me, my organization, and women in my community and beyond. With each passing day, we are inching closer to achieving that feat!

Comments 25

Log in or register to post comments
Martha
Dec 28, 2016
Dec 28, 2016

My godness Olanike...wowowowowowowowow 

your work is amazing. I will get the designs of the efficient stove we have here....

I applaude you

My love

Martha

Olanike
Dec 28, 2016
Dec 28, 2016

Oh my dear sister Martha. Your comment is such a soothing music to my heart. Thank you for reaching out with your highly encouraging words of affirmation and acknowledgement. I very much look forward to seeing the designs of the efficient stoves used in your part of the world. May be we could also make out time someday to share and learn more from one another about the issue of clean cooking in our individual communities. You rock!

Much love, Olanike.

Annabellvernet
Dec 28, 2016
Dec 28, 2016

Such a wonderful Job!

Olanike
Jan 04, 2017
Jan 04, 2017

Dear Annabeellvernet,

I could feel the applause right where I am seated as I read your words. Thank you, thank and thank you for celebrating me. You rock!!!!!!!!!!!!

Much gratitude and hugs,

Olanike

Rahmana Karuna
Dec 28, 2016
Dec 28, 2016

greetings beloved Olanike,

a woman after my own heart! Dancing, and perhaps singing certainly!! have you made a song about your endeavor?

Olanike
Jan 04, 2017
Jan 04, 2017

Oh my God, dearest Rahmana! It means the world to me to have you refer to me as a woman after your heart. Wow, you leave me short for words!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you so much for the question you raised as it has stirred a great idea in my mind. I haven't made a song about my endeavor, but I sure will. Kudos to you for inspiring that. Be sure that you would be the first I will share the song with when it is ready. I mean it, you would be the first! I will certainly keep you posted.

I love and appreciate you loads and send you my greenest love.

Warmly,

Olanike

Rahmana Karuna
Jan 04, 2017
Jan 04, 2017

Olanike, thank you for replying. and so happy you are inspired to create a song. i so look forward to hearing it. i am a leader of www,Dancesofuniversalpeace.org i think these will give you even more inspiration. i hope. love and hugs and light and laughter this afternoon to you.

Olanike
Jan 04, 2017
Jan 04, 2017

So nice of you to reach out again and also inspire me further by sharing more about you with me. It is such a privilege to connect with you and the amazing work you are leading. My organization also teaches peace and conflict resolution.

I have checked out your beautiful website and bookmarked it. I would make out time over the weekend to explore the site in deeper and more engaging terms. Thank you for connecting with me!

Hugs,

Olanike

LillianVB
Jan 02, 2017
Jan 02, 2017

Great stuff Olanike ...keep shining. Very inspiring.

LVB

Olanike
Jan 04, 2017
Jan 04, 2017

You are so sweet Lillian! We are all here to inspire one another, and it feels great to know that you found what I was able to share, inspiring.

I celebrate you!

Warmly,

Olanike

JulieG
Jan 02, 2017
Jan 02, 2017

Dear Olanike,

This story and video was a beautiful start to my first week of the new year!  Congratulations on your achievements to date and as a World Pulse Changemaker, we'll be so happy to watch you continue your meaningful work.  I've often thought about cooking sources as being such an important issue for the world, from an environmental perspective.  And then the magnitude of negative health issues as well.  Such an important cause. What a joy to impact both of these topics in such a meaningful way.  And dancing through it, too!

Best wishes for the new year-

Julie

Olanike
Jan 04, 2017
Jan 04, 2017

Dear Julie,

I am thrilled to know that "this story and video was a beautiful start to your first week of the new year!". Yipeeeeeeee, you just made me put on my dancing shoes again! Your congratulatory message and knowing that you would be watching and cheering me on also evoked the same feeling. Thank you loads!!!!!!

I am also happy to read your thoughts and understanding of the importance and interconnectedness of the issues of cooking energy, health and the environment. As women, we can sure dance our way out of issues that limit and or undermine our potentials. Yes we can, yes we will!

I also wish you a joy filled and highly rewarding year ahead. Sending you my greenest love and deepest appreciation.

Best wishes,Olanike.

MKOne
Jan 02, 2017
Jan 02, 2017

Thank you so much for sharing the brilliant work your organisation does! Such an inspiration to us all! 

Olanike
Jan 04, 2017
Jan 04, 2017

I am truly touched by your kind, encouraging and empowering words. Together we are wiser, stronger and better. Together we can, together we will make our world a better place for everyone to thrive.

Hugs,

Olanike.

Obisakin Busayo
Jan 03, 2017
Jan 03, 2017

Keep progressing Olanike!!

Nigerian women need a safe environment to thrive

Olanike
Jan 04, 2017
Jan 04, 2017

Yes my dearest sister, empowered change leader, and co-compatriot; Nigerian women need a safe environment to thrive. Every seemingly little effort we are each making is inching us closer to this dream. Together, we will make it a reality. 

Love,

Olanike

Tamarack Verrall
Jan 08, 2017
Jan 08, 2017

My dear sister,

Reading through your brilliantly written and news filled story here, my heart overflows. You have such an ability to start us with information of the most basic problems, women without access to land, women suffering life and death health problems, and how this is connected to erosion of the earth. You zoom us out to look at the world as a whole, gather us up in our connection as global sisters who understand and are working together, then bring us to the exact spot on the map where you have made life different for so many women, with a determined focus on those needing change the most. I continue to be inspired and amazed at your leadership, and celebrate with you here the leaps forward that you have been making happen. How perfect that your organization is WISE and that care for women and this planet are interwoven in everything you do. And then, you danced. Dance itself creating an indelible bond, memory and joy in all present. How beautiful. The joy and empowerment in this event radiates out to us all.

Much love to you and may the wind beneath your wings continue to carry you,

Tam

Olanike
Jan 21, 2017
Jan 21, 2017

I could never thank you enough Tam for being there to listen to me and always ready to lend your support in every other way possible. Your listening prowess stands you out and our World Pulse community is truly blessed to have you share this with us. You are a shining example of a listener who inspire others to listen too!

As you know, the green side of you resonates and motivates me to stay on course. It gives me hope that one day, women would eventually turn our world right side up in ways that will ensure that our planet breathes healthy again. Yes we can!

I could never thank you enough for journeying with, celebrating and sharing your highly thoughtful and generous gifts and feedback with me. It remains a strong reminder that that there is more that binds all of humanity together, than divides us.

You are dearly appreciated and loved! God bless your beautiful heart.

Your green sister and pal, Olanike.

Bim Adegbite
Jan 11, 2017
Jan 11, 2017

Loving you more everyday.... I stand, applaud and dance with you.  I truly see you.

Olanike
Jan 21, 2017
Jan 21, 2017

Loving you even more my dear sister!!!!!!!!! In addition is a deep seated desire to meet you in person. I can read and feel your beauty in your words. I see you sister and love you loads for warming my heart with your kind words of acknowledgement. Together we are better, wiser, stronger greater. See you some day!

Greenest love, Olanike.

Immaculate Amoit
Jan 17, 2017
Jan 17, 2017

Wow. Am amazed. This is inspiring Ola! A woman at a time. Keep Keeping on .I am rooting for you, you remind of a woman who was also A Noble Laureate Wangari Maathai...I grew up admiring her activism in governance and the environment.The Green Belt Movement is her legacy.Just keep doing

Lots of love 

Olanike
Jan 21, 2017
Jan 21, 2017

Dear Immah,

Your words sent waves of joy right through my entire being. It may interest you to know that Wangari Maathai remains my idol!!! I have had the honor to visit your country on two different occasions and the most memorable was the one that offered me the rare privilege to meet Wangari in person. My picture with her remains a priced possession! I am happy to share the photo with you through a piece and tribute I wrote and which is  dedicated to her blessed memory. See: https://www.worldpulse.com/en/community/users/greengirl/posts/18570

I love your country and look forward to visiting again. Your solidarity/support speaks volumes and means loads to me. Thank you!

Hugs, Olanike

Carolyn Seaman
Jan 29, 2017
Jan 29, 2017

Dear Sister Olanike,

It was a warm pleasure experiencing those amazing women with you. And I am now empowered to share the 'Personal Agency' experience with other women in my community, thank you!

I look forward to our future work promoting clean cook stoves and care for our environment among women in your community. Let's make it happen!

Love,

Carolyn

Araba
Feb 16, 2017
Feb 16, 2017

Keep it up girl! Am inspired by your passion and determination.

Austina
May 18, 2017
May 18, 2017

Dear Olanike,

So proud of you! Keep the candle burning sis.

Blessings