Tough times? Read This

butterflyA few days ago I had a phone conversation with one of the children affiliated to the Big sister initiative. She sounded so upbeat about school and life in general. “I like my new classmates and my grades have improved”, she said. I was so excited, It felt like a major win. We talked about other things, like the possibility of us having another outreach at her school this quarter, her plans for the new year, my plans for the new year etc

This was a sharp contrast from the girl who had reached out to us a couple of months ago. From our initial telephone conversation, she was bawling her eyes out. She had just received her report card from school and she had been asked to repeat a class. “my world has ended”, “I feel so stupid”, “God doesn’t love me”, ‘why am I so unlucky” were some of her words. I simply listened for the first few minutes because I knew it was important for her to go through the emotions. Then I offered some advice and we ended the call on a bright note. During our follow-up calls, we talked extensively and seemed to have settled in. Her recent call was a further affirmation that she was indeed in a better place.

What lessons have I taken from the experience?

One of life’s greatest gifts is the fact that life can be difficult. We build invaluable strength while dealing with life’s difficulties.  This strength enables us to successfully fulfill our deepest, most meaningful purposes.

Over time you will find that life isn’t necessarily any easier or harder than you thought it was going to be; it’s just that the easy and the hard will not be exactly the way you had anticipated, and will not always occur when you expect them to.  This isn’t a bad thing; it makes life interesting.  With a positive attitude and a deep-rooted knowledge of who you are in Christ, knowing that God loves you and wants the bets for you, you will always be pleasantly surprised.

Your mindset and the frame of your thoughts will play a major role in how your journey will play out. It’s okay to have down days and tough times, try not to get overwhelmed by them. Trust God completely.  Expecting life to be wonderful all the time is wanting to swim in an ocean in which waves only rise and never come crashing down.  However, when you recognize that the rising and crashing waves are part of the same ocean, you are able to let go and be at peace with the reality of these ups and downs.

If your year didn’t start off on a positive note, don’t let it beat you up. You are just starting the 3rd week of the year. I strongly believe that 2018 will be an exciting, defining year for many of us. It is also one that will stretch us and require us to come out of our comfort zones. For some of us, this could mean writing your school leaving examinations, preparing for A levels, starting out as a fresh year student of a university, starting out in a new class or a new school, moving to a new country, starting a new life afresh etc. How you respond to these changes will be crucial for the next level. Irrespective of where you currently are; project into the future, stretch the limit and keep pushing to achieve your goals(yes, the ones you had written down earlier this month).

The stimulus for growth is discomfort. Times of stress are also times for growth, challenges give room for opportunities and if we use setbacks properly, we can grow through adversity.

Love,

Nkiru

Hello 2018

 

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A new year has rolled in and with it comes fresh opportunities. We, at the Big Sister Initiative are excited about the plans for 2018. One thing is clear, we are resolute in improving the lives of the adolescent and are committed to expanding the reach of the initiative. The future is indeed bright.

2017 was a learning curve for us, from having outreaches with the E and R foundation, Command Children School Oshodi to Ajao Estate Primary School amongst others.

During the Christmas Carol session held at the Muri Okunola Park in December, we had a lot of girls give us feedback on the impact the platform has made in their lives and it was a humbling and inspiring moment for us as it showed us that the platform is indeed gathering momentum and we are adding some colors to the world we live in.

We see 2018 having a lot of disruptions in our manner of engagements, we will be reaching out to teens in schools, clubs, associations, we also see a lot of collaborations and partnerships with stakeholders that have similar objectives. This will be an exciting year for us here and we will like to encourage you to continue to positively impact the world around you from your corner.

Lots of Love

 

Celebrating 2017

 

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2017 turned out to be a beautiful year for us in terms of the activities organized, the reach covered and the impact we made in the lives of the children.

On the 10th of December, we partnered with the Emmanuel and Rachael foundation to have a fun fair and Carol event, the proceeds of the events will be channeled to the welfare of the kids of the Foundation. We are thankful for the kids, Meimunat, Ikechukwu, Esther, Eniola, Sharon, Michael and the many more whom we worked with closely this year; kids who constantly reach out to us for words of advice, encouragement and support. We took the opportunity to showcase some of the handiwork of the kids and to generally have a good time to wrap up the year 2017 and to plan ahead for 2018.

Pictures of the handiwork of the kids:

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And more…Please follow us on Instagram and twitterEOY10

And some more…

EOY 5It was an event that also allowed us understand where the kids of the E and R foundation where in terms of their education, welfare and the next steps.

We believe that the year ahead will bring with it many positives for the kids and the initiative in general.

Is your Passion enough for your Career?

download (1)During our last outreach program on the 1st of November, I observed that the kids had questions around their future career options, possibility of combining different careers and were generally quite excited about the talk and games.

Their curiosity and excitement encouraged me to do a little research and make enquiries from people who I consider successful in their chosen careers. I felt it would be a disservice to simply say, “Follow your passion”, especially when that strategy alone had not been entirely true for me. I find it strange that almost everyone says “follow your passion, follow your interests”, yet there seems to be a growing discomfort and un-fulfillment in the work place. It begs the question, Does Passion matter in one’s career? The outcome of my research is, yes Passion matters, but it is not sufficient in itself. I will explain.

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I recently listened to a Ted Talk By Benjamin Todd, CEO and Co-Founder of 80,000 hours and he was of the opinion that each individual had 80,000 hours in their career hence the need to “Do what’s Valuable”. According to him, it has become important that we move beyond this mantra of follow your passion and focus on what we can do for other people and how to make the world a better place

Dear girl, without trying to bore you, what I am trying to say is that no doubt passion is important, however, there are some scenarios where passion matches the work but the individual still does not find fulfilment. What this means is that your interest is not a basis on which to choose a career. When it comes to real career decisions, your interests are just not a decisive factor other things matter much more like what your skills are and what your mindset is. Indeed, we think that our interest matters a lot more than they do because we really underestimate how much they change.

Your interest five years ago will have probably changed compared to what they currently are now and in 5-10 years’ time they will probably change again. Focus on getting good at something that genuinely helps others and makes the world a better place. That is the secret to a fulfilling career. Helping others is a secret to personal fulfillment. What causes people to be truly satisfied and happy in their life is doing what is valuable. Let that be the foundation for any career path you opt for.

Get good at something that makes the world a better place. Do what is valuable. Even if you work as a Doctor, Web Designer etc

If you focus on helping others, most people will want you to succeed. It is much true to say do what is valuable which will lead to passion and subsequently, a fulfilling career. It can be artistic or intellectual such as being a business analyst. Focusing on doing what is valuable will give you clear concrete meaningful goals that will make your life better. There will be no more endless reflections on which of your interests represent my true calling.

What practical steps should you follow?

Explore; Learn all you can about the world and test yourself out on different things: this will include reading, asking questions, developing a creative mind, watching movies and for those who can afford to, Travel. To discover what is valuable, you have to discover what is out there in the world you just cannot figure it out by simply thinking only about your own interests.

Get some skills and get good at them; These should be skills that are in demand and can be used in different areas(Flexible).

Solve a pressing social problem using your skills. Pick one that has been unfairly neglected, you will thrive there. Big social problems can be and often are solved by research, by developing new technology, by spreading big ideas in the art etc.

The key is to work out where your skill can fit in to have the greatest impact.

In conclusion, From the way I see it, Altruism is one thing you will never regret. If you really want to be successful in your own career, you really need to stop focusing on your self-interest and instead ask what you can do for other people.

*Pictures from google

Love and Light

Nkiru

 

Hello November: Full Circle

The Big Sister Initiative is a year old, the journey has been enlightening and an interesting learning curve, but most importantly, we are grateful to have impacted lives in our own little way. On the 1st of November, we visited Ajao Estate Grammar School to spend some time with the students and it was indeed an amazing experience. Our discussions spanned from career to relationships to money and it was great watching the students (girls and boys) excited about learning and asking questions.

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What struck me during the session (this happens at almost all sessions with the students ) was how accommodating and eager they were to learn. Their curious minds  eager to know more and trying to figure out ways to be successful. One message we try to reiterate during our sessions with the students is that -you are only a decision away from a completely different life- We realize that the adolescent stage is one where critical life decisions will be made and it is important to reiterate the need for the students to have core values and principles that will guide their choices. There was however a red flag I observed , I must confess that I was concerned about the state of the infrastructure  of our public schools, it speaks a lot to the deterioration of the educational system in Nigeria. Nevertheless, we at the big sister initiative remain focused on the students  and the content they are exposed to especially the parts that are not covered by the school curriculum.

 

If you are a school administrator and you will like for us to spend some time mentoring your students, please leave us a message or contact us via any of our social media handles.

Lots of love,

From All of Us.

Unending Learning: My Recipe for Greatness

‘’Knowledge is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” ― Albert Einstein

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Last year, I did some soul searching which was basically evaluating my life and the lives of those who had access to me. I made a long list of those I have always admired (The fine ones with fancy stuff), Those that motivated and inspired me (the ones I wanted to be like), during my evaluation it became clear to me that each category of my peers had distinguished characteristics/attributes that made me form the perceptions I had about them. More importantly for me, were the ones I wanted to be like – Oh My! They shined all the way, had answers to every question in class, among friends, anywhere and everywhere and I remember attributing it to them being the teacher or lecturers favorite. Guess what I discovered from my evaluation series – The people I wanted to be like were not academic intellectuals, they simply had a deep quest for knowledge and were inquisitive about life and its components, they were bold to ask questions and never afraid to fail at first attempt; they take every moment as an opportunity to learn, they are not close minded and they embrace every form of teaching.

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This made me have a rethink on my journey and how close minded I have been which has been nothing but self-limiting and I made a vow to make it right by actively developing and cultivating the habit of learning especially because every gathering of successful people I have been privileged to sit in has been governed by a common principle – Learn, Learn, Learn! You just can never be too old to learn because Knowledge never goes out of style, it is power, it is what makes us who we are and what ends up placing us where we want to be, it is the driver of our path. And because of this, the things I thought were fascinating and interesting suddenly became meaningless as I decided to pick up hobbies that will enhance my growth such as meeting people from different places, trying to find meanings for words I never knew existed, trying to learn new language and the best of all my appetite for reading grew overnight.

I have come to realize that great and successful people don’t know it all, they sometimes don’t even know it at all but they stay with the questions much longer than ordinary people, they stay learning as if they are going to live forever because they believe so much that it is only through learning that they will go places others only dreamed of.

Personally, the more I read, the more I realize that I know nothing and I can only keep at it to get answers that will catapult and prepare me for every next level of my life.

My dear young ones, you cannot get tired of learning, you cannot get tired of seeking answers, you cannot get tired of failing because Failure teaches important lessons and you cannot get tired of getting Involved…. And Do not forget – The Goal is to be nothing short of the best there can ever be.

I will round off with one of my favorite quotes;

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” ― T.H. White, The Once and Future King

Lots Of Love,

Eniola

 

Today’s Girls, Tomorrow’s leader.

IDGC 2017

There is potential for every girl to be a powerful voice in her community. This is the message from The Big Sister Initiative.

As we celebrate the girl child today, let us take it a step further by helping tackle the issues the girl child faces, this way we can help every girl achieve her dreams.

 

Lots of love,

From the Big Sister Initiative

Cultivating Character

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The topic for today is Character.

I recently had an opportunity to listen to one of my mentors speak on the importance of character and competence. Listening to him made me ruminate about my life, some choices I had made and how to generally improve on myself and I thought it would be important to share this with you. The thing is, self-improvement will remain a constant in our lives. I am sure you have heard the saying, “we learn everyday”, Self-improvement allows for us to learn something positive every day and apply it to our lives to help us become better rounded individuals, for ourselves, our immediate families and society in general.

How does this apply to Character you might ask? Our characters do not come from what we have learnt from the classroom alone.

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The dictionary defines Character as one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual another definition is a person’s usual qualities or traits. I like to define character as what you do when no one is looking.

The qualities of character can be developed through a number of influences: family, school, church, community influences, social media, our individual temperament, experiences, and choices. Are you honest, kind, responsible, courteous trustworthy, fair, compassionate, respectful, and involved in the greater good of your family and society? A quote by Thomas B Macaulay accurately captures character: The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.

Character is the result of two things: Mental attitude and the way we spend our time.

imagesSimply put, as an individual, your character can be described as your set of complexities, your own opinions, and your personalities. You need to take time to nurture growth, development, and relationships. Developing your character is a skill that cannot be taught. It starts from the little things such as being honest about a mistake that was made, sticking to commitments, being prompt to an event, having the ability to say no to an almost irresistible offer that you know you shouldn’t take on, the list goes on.

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.  – John Wooden

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Like I earlier said, self-improvement is a continuous activity, which means that building ones character remains a continuous exercise. Don’t stay the same, rather be deliberate about being the best version of yourself. What this means is that you when you become focused on building your character you will see yourself evolving, learning from mistakes quickly and overall bringing a lot of value to your life and the lives of those around you.

I should  add on a final note that while it is important to build your character, it is also important to maintain it.

Here’s to wishing you a pleasant week ahead as we remain deliberate in our journey to self-improvement.

Lots of Love,

Nkiru

 

 

 

 

Back to School- Stay winning

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Hey Guys, I hope we had a beautiful summer/third term break.

A new academic year starts today for many of us and I thought to cheer you on for the year ahead. I attended a boarding house back in high/secondary school and the emotions were different for me for every school year. I’m pretty sure those of you in boarding schools can almost relate to this. In JSS1, (the current 7th grade), I recall being so excited about finally leaving the house, no more nannies/helps/aunties/mummy/daddy to police my every move. The joys of having tons of provisions and pocket monies. My sisters had prepared my mind for the punishments and horrors of boarding houses in Nigeria and also old tricks to get out of trouble, so I was ready. As the years progressed, the emotions ranged from excitement to trepidation, to anxiety then in my senior years; glee, happiness, euphoria and then sadness when came to an end.

A couple of things however stayed true throughout my high school and even later as an undergrad. I will like to share those tips so that it helps you deal better with the school year.

  1. Setting Goals: Make a list of your plans and goals. I had always been an A downloadstudent and my parents expected me to keep up with the pace in secondary school, this automatically meant I had to study. Early enough, I reached a compromise with them which was to remain in the top three in any class so it made my goal a lot more flexible-Remaining top three in class- without putting too much pressure on me. What this did was to help me focus on school and my studies while having enough play time. Initially, I studied because that was expected of me but much later I discovered that I actually enjoyed reading. I found my strength; reading, being imaginative, writing, story telling. There are some people who have their strengths in other areas outside of academics eg sports with almost no passion for academics. Setting goals will be needed to excel both within and outside the classroom. The goal could be to be a better athlete while maintaining B’s or C’s. It could be to represent your school at a debating competition. It could be to become an all-round high flying student. Whatever the goal is, decide to constantly improve on it while not overlooking your academics. I know reading can be a chore sometimes, see it as something that has to be done for your good and put some extra effort to it. Try a new approach this year.
  2. download (1)Get Involved: There are a bunch of co-curricular activities you can get involved in. Literary and Debating society, Drama club, Food and Nutrition club, Drama club. Pick one, pick many, pick something that fascinates you and learn something new. Interestingly, a lot of these co-curricular activities will help you identify where your strengths lie and how you can do better. Some of which become highly relevant later in life. If you are shy and quite introverted, getting involved is a sure way to get over being shy and making friends. If you are boisterous and always the star of the show, working with other people will teach you how to better be a team player.
  3. Talk to your teachers and classmates: Stay curious. A lot of the times, we tend to shy away from being asked questions or talking to our teachers. It might help to know that no-one has all the answers.  This academic year, set out to ask at least one question to your teacher on any topic you chose to or talk to someone in your class you typically would not relate with. Asking questions does a number of things to you: it teaches you to think things through logically, it makes you concentrate lot better especially in areas your teacher might have and it helps you learn something new from the other party.

  4. Stay Positive: Hey, It’s just another school year. This time around the plan is to win. So, stay positive while winning.

Lots of Love,

Nkiru

 

 

Making mistakes and learning from them(i)

If you live life long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit – William Clinton

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One of the things about being human is that we come into the world as a blank canvas. Apart from the natural instincts, many things are learnt and developed. We tend to pick up almost every other thing from our immediate environment, things like friendship, religious beliefs, values, character, reactions, the list goes on.

Interestingly, it seems like there is a lot of emphasis on preventing mistakes or completely ignoring the mistakes and a lot less on how to rise above a mistake, when you make it. While it is good to prevent mistakes and better to learn from other people’s mistakes, the fact remains that, You are human. it is inevitable that at some point in your life especially in your teen years, that you will make a bad call, this could vary from keeping a grudge, pulling an offensive prank, making a mean comment, or mixing with the wrong crowd.

Realise that your mistakes and failures are gifts, gems, guideposts in your learning and growth as a person. Take the necessary corrections and looks at ways to redeem the situation where you can. It is never easy to admit you’ve made a mistake, but it’s a crucial step in learning, growing, and improving yourself.

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There are quite a number of lessons to learn from mistakes made. You learn about intergrity, taking on responsibility and taking on feedback. The feedback we get from our mistakes can be the most specific, and powerful feedback we’ll ever get. Many times we can trace mistakes to recurring patterns of belief or behavior—things we do, say, and think over and over again. When we spot and change a habit we may find that other areas of our lives change for the better. One way to gain maximum benefit from mistakes is to examine them through asking ourselves some questions: “How can I use this experience?”; “What will I do differently next time?

Admitting the truth increases our capacity to change. It is like holding up a mirror to ourselves and really seeing, this allows us concentrate on learning and growing.

Personally, one interesting lesson I have learnt over the years from making mistakes is that it teaches us to clarify what we really want and how we want to live. Remember that, while, You can’t change mistakes, but you can choose how to respond to them.

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P.S: I know this is not the typical easy posts, but I recall being a teenager and realizing whenever I had made a mistake or mistakes, my typical reaction would be to deflect, ignore or simply wish it away. Now I know better and I will love that you learn from this as well.

Have a beautiful summer Holiday

Lots of Love