Busayo Oladiran: Changing the lives of Girls Living in Slums through The Ìgboyà Project

According to UNICEF, 13.2 million children are out of school in Nigeria, 60% of them are girls. This figure puts Nigeria as the country with the highest number of out-of-school children in the world.

This proverbial gun powder poses a serious danger not only to the present day Nigeria but also the future of the nation. Notably, one patriotic Nigerian is doing her bit to stop this gun powder from exploding. Her name is Busayo Oladiran.

Busayo is a graduate of Microbiology from the University of Ilorin, co-founder of Pep Naija and 2018 YALI fellow. She grew up in an average Nigerian family where she didn’t lack basic needs.

She was, however, treated unfairly at some point because she is a girl child. So she vowed to create opportunities for girls, especially those who are underprivileged.

This was why she founded The Ìgboyà Project to help girls living in slums/underserved communities become role models worthy of emulation. 

In this article SLA contributor, Kofoworola Ayodeji highlights some of her achievements in helping Nigerian girls living in the slum.

 Hope emerges for girls living in Dustbin Estate…

On a bright Saturday morning, Busayo and her team made a triumphant entry into the Dustbin Estate in Ajegunle, Lagos Nigeria.

As they alighted from the car, the four-person team was swarmed by a group of enthusiastic girls who have been waiting eagerly to start a journey that would change the course of their lives in the weeks ahead.

That moment birthed The Ìgboyà Project in Ajegunle.

The journey began. And then the sad moment ensued.

Busayo and her team members arrive at Dustbin Estate, Ajegunle Lagos.

“I heard stories that made me shed tears for days. There’s the story of a girl who was doing well academically on scholarship. Then she was molested, got pregnant and lost her scholarship.

Her education stopped. She lost her dad in the process and had to sleep in an uncompleted building with pregnancy for months.” -Busayo said in a low voice.

“Another of the girls lost her two parents and had to stop going to school because her guardians couldn’t send her. It was such an emotional moment for me, for all of us. They broke down in tears while telling their story. They cried. I cried too.

I couldn’t help it. But I’m happy that with our coaching and investment in them, they have braced up to get the best out of life.” She continued.

The Ìgboyà girls during a class session.

Why it was called -The Ìgboyà Project…

“The name ‘Ìgboyà’ is a powerful word in my native language, Yoruba. It simply means courage, confidence, or boldness.” says Busayo as she thrusts her fists into the air with so much passion.

“The Ìgboyà Project was created to help girls living in slums or remote communities. Basically, we’re working to help them build their self-confidence, self-esteem and communication skills. They are also trained in public speaking, branding, sexual and reproductive health.

I really want our girls to be bold, and to believe in themselves - @OladiranBusayo Click To Tweet

The project has so far empowered a lot of girls currently living in Dustbin Estate, Ajegunle Lagos. The Ìgboyà girls, as the participants are called, get trained over a period of six weeks with intensive classes, class exercises and simulation.

After that, they were organized into a brainstorming session during which they analyzed and highlighted some of the key problems facing their local community. They are then mentored and supported by the Ìgboyà team to solve these problems.

A cross-section of the panel of judges on the grand finale of The Ìgboyà Debate

“When we arrived at Dustbin Estate in Ajegunle, my eyes were welled up with tears. It was unbelievable that some people live in this kind of environment. I began to think about the girls who grow up in a place like this.

I knew we had no choice but to rewrite the story of some girls living around here. Thank God for LOTS charity that has been doing so much to groom the kids in that community, ” says Busayo

“After six weeks of rigorous training sessions, I knew the change had finally come. Our girls have now become so bold that they can take on anyone on any issue about their community or nation.

They are now doing their community project and we will continue to mentor and expose them to life-changing opportunities. I recently went with four of the girls to #TLC2018, a speaking event which held at the American Corner, Yaba Lagos.

This inspired them and exposed them to many more opportunities. Our next stop is Mushin in Lagos and we look forward to having a great experience there.”

Busayo with some of the Ìgboyà Girls at #TLC2018 held at The American Corner CcHub Yaba Lagos.
My dream is for the @igboyaproject to reach millions of girls living in slums/underserved communities across Africa - @OladiranBusayo Click To Tweet

That you were born a girl child in a particular community should not limit your potentials in life. Every single girl in the world deserves to live a fulfilling life of purpose.

Dear Motherland Mogul, make your life a story worth telling. Within every person lies an extraordinary story waiting to be told.

 How are you making a difference in your community? Click here to share your story.