Saturday 17 April 2021


The title of this Blog post aptly describes what transpired at the fifth anniversary of the 'Voice' Project anchored by OXFAM. The Voice Project is aimed at amplifying the voices of those excluded in the society like People Living With Disabilities (PLWDs), the aged, ethnic minorities, indigenous groups, inmates in Correctional Centres, etc. The project was conceived in the Netherlands. I was a special guest of OXFAM Nigeria in Abuja on the 7th of April, 2021 at the celebration where activities in nine other countries in Asia, East Africa and West Africa were syndicated via Zoom! The focus this year was on persons with speech difficulties. Experiences of persons born with Downs Syndrome, etc who have struggled to improve themselves via the Voice Project were shared across many countries. To say the least, the stories were very inspiring. #oxfam #thevoiceproject #inclisivity #socialcohesion #fifthanniversary #plwds #women #correctionalcentres #theaged #ethnicminorities #indigenousgroups #nigeria #westafrica #eastafrica #asia thenetherlands

Photo L-R: Mrs. Ramatu Umar-Bako (Head of Influencing & Public Engagement) & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa

                                                               Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa

Shall we now trace the metamorphosis of the Voice Project in Nigeria? A validation workshop was held 14th October, 2016, where PLWDs, the Aged, Ethnic minorities & Groups of women were identified as targets. The baseline study then exposed the needs of the identified marginalised groups as:

*Improved access to social services, especially health and education.
*Improved access to resources, e.g. employment.
*Safe spaces for political participation and active citizenship.

             Photo L-R: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa & Ijeoma Okwor (Programme Coordinator)

According to Ijeoma Okwor (Progarmme Coordinator), fifty communities in Custodial Centres, slums, Universities, etc. were reached across Nigeria. The 'outreach' has birthed the following:

*CAPIO: Voice/gender-sensitive training as a compulsory course for every Correctional Officer in order to ensure dignified treatment for female inmates. A gender-sensitive manual has been developed and adopted by all Correctional Centres.
*A Sign Language Glossary has been developed and adopted by the FCT PHC Board & the National Commission on PLWDs as a tool to support women with hearing impairment to enable them access healthcare in Nigeria. The pilot project is in the FCT.
*Two women included in the Traditional Rulers (Igwe in Council) of Umuode Town in Enugu State! This is a feat in a patriarchal society like Nigeria. 
*A fully equipped and operational cybercafe at the Vocational Centre for the Blind in in Jos, Plateau State.
*Youth Ambassadors transforming lives through art locally and at international fora. A viable example is 'The Street Project' (TSP) which gave a good account of itself at the anniversary celebration. TSP's dance drama/spoken word/skit/songs etc depicted the plight of the aged, disabled, females in Custodial Centres, etc. to the admiration of the audience.
*Affordable sanitary pads produced by female inmates in Suleja Custodial Centre in collaboration with returned female citizens.
*The Voice Project has addressed societal issues like sex for grades, open governance, digital space and freedom of speech.
*Adolescent advocates raised in two Secondary Schools in Agege, Lagos State.
*Movie titled 'Yes We Can' premiered. It is a documentary on persons with learning difficulties. 
*A Cooperative of women farmers strengthened to secure their own land for farming in Shepwan, Plateau State.
*Walking the talk of diversity, equity & inclusion in Higher Education
*Young, indigenous Gbagyi youth coordinated to engage in sports, arts and crafts.
*Ethnic minorities in Lagos State who are also PLWDs empowered with para-legal skills to engage the government and provide legal support, including bail negotiations for communities.
*The 'Voices of Freedom' platform enables young people express themselves.
*Safe spaces and knowledge hubs created to empower youth/women with disabilities & exploited/abused persons.

Photo L-R: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa & Emmanuel Oladele (Linking, Learning & Amplifier Officer)

Incredible! So much achieved by OXFAM's The Voice Project in the first five years. Like Oliver Twist, we expect so much more in the next five years. My message to the effective and efficient OXFAM team and their partners: keep striving for excellence, aim at breaking your record - your best is yet to come. Happy anniversary!

     Photo L-R: Madam Chinwe (Director Special Duties, NOA) & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa

Related Links

*It's time to re-imagine Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
*Inclusivity begins during the hiring process. Here'show to do it
*How to foster diversity, equity & inclusion in a remote-work world
*Language matters in trans-disciplinarity
*Covid-19 as the 'inequality virus'? Can internationalisation promote inclusion and social justice


1 comment:

Emmanuel Oladele said...

Very comprehensive! Thanks for capturing and telling our wonderful story.