Cynthia Obinwanne is the founder and executive director of Talklove Africa Foundation. The foundation is a Non-Governmental Organisation that stands for the well-being of underprivileged children, vulnerable women and the disadvantaged. They also promote the involvement and engagement of young people as key partners and stakeholders in implementing the UN Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. Talklove Africa Foundation was founded in the year 2016. It was fully registered by 2017, and since then, they’ve been working on making people’s lives better.
In an interview with Assertive Women Magazine, Ms Cynthia clears the negative notion about charitable organizations and shows us the attractive sides that these organizations possess.
I don’t appreciate discussing this topic because we create awareness of negative topics when we focus on them. I once saw a post on LinkedIn where someone wrote about the bad side of charity. This made me dread the effect this would have on people, so I wrote an article to correct this. I knew that even if I could not reach the writer and his audience, I could still influence the mindset of others.
Yes, there are bad eggs, but there is nothing we do on earth that doesn’t have the right and wrong people in them. If you want to get involved in Charity, please do your background findings.
2. What was your most successful project from the inception of Talklove Africa Foundation, and why do you consider it so?
We look for an incremental change in all our projects because people’s lives cannot be changed automatically. If a person’s life is touched, we consider it successful. We’ve done a series of projects regarding education, women empowerment, and health. We can’t say one is more successful than the other. In the past, we did an autism sensitisation program in collaboration with the University of Houston and the Centre for Autism and Developmental Disability. It was free training for caregivers, therapists, doctors and parents of autistic children to learn to intervene and care for autistic people. In Nigeria, some believe people like this are cursed. They lock them indoors, and their parents are ashamed to bring them out. We consider this campaign successful because we were creating awareness for autistic people to regain their human rights. The program had about 218 participants, most of whom came from various parts of Nigeria to Port Harcourt.
3. The Pandemic affected most organisations, and I believe Talklove Africa Foundation must have faced some challenges. How did you cope?
The Pandemic affected most people who work physically, work-wise we were not affected because we have always worked remote but the funding was affected. When the Pandemic broke out, many people started calling in for support and food. The tension increased because we were getting tons of calls; this proved to us that women and children are the ones most affected by the crisis because they were the ones calling. Most of these women were the breadwinners. The schools were not in session, and children had to stay home with their parents, and they could not cope. This brought pressure, as we had to respond regardless of restricted movement. No one was prepared for the Pandemic, but we tried all we could.
4. Of recent, experts have come out to implore charitable organisations to support the use of technology in their work. How has your organisation implemented the use of technology in your work?
Our organization takes advantage of everything technology, starting from social media to payment gateways. We use accounting software to automate our remote work, so everything is synchronised. Clouds help us not to lose data when a device crashes. Whatever technology is out now, we are using it, and if we are not, that is because we have not heard of it. At NGO meetings, we bring awareness to those who are not yet technologically inclined by helping them understand the advantages of using technology. Most often, we use the Progress for a Quality Education Campaign to cite an example. We are here in Nigeria and could get participants in over 32 countries. That would not have been possible without technology. We appreciate organisations that give NGOs access to technological tools at subsidised rates. Technology reduces some costs and the need for human resources. Technology affords us the ability to work remote.
5. In an article by Plummer Parsons, they reported a reduction in charity donations and the public’s trust in charity organisations. How is Talklove Africa Foundation working on this issue?
The LinkedIn post I made to tackle someone’s negative post about charity is one step, avoiding negative discussions about charity is another. Humans quickly assimilate what they see and hear, therefore, we are unapologetically out there on social media. If people can advertise cigarettes online, nothing stops us from advertising good deeds.
My children have learnt about charity work, they get to see how others live and this helps them appreciate what they have. People in governance amass wealth for generations to come rather than help people, and we want this to change. Some people believe it is wrong of us to post our activities online, but our Progress for Quality Education Campaign advertises scholarships and provisions for out-of-school children. We encourage people to take action on their own and send us pictures. We run this campaign in 32 countries. If people stop castigating NGOs, the new generation will admire what the NGOs are doing.
6. As a young woman running a charitable organisation, what message do you have for young women who aspire to establish their own charitable organisations?
I want to say that young ladies like that should take time to serve. It is normal today to see people jumping into things they do not know about. In service, you get to learn many things, so if you want to start a non-profit organisation, I advise you to volunteer with other organisations. In doing so, you get to skip many hurdles. This field demands patience, and it all boils down to who you are and why you are doing this. While serving with another organisation, you are still impacting humanity as you initially intended. This will help you project better when you venture out on your own.
Her desire to see others live better lives led her to build such a strong foundation amidst criticisms. This shows that though businesses are risky, people are still out there doing good. Do you have a dream to support people? Do not hesitate, take a bold step and impact the world around you.
Written By: Joyce C. Nwezeh Obi-Akejelu (Writer, Social media manager and graphic designer with Africa4AfricaWomen/Assert/PAWES).