The Funda Wazi Foundation was launched on the 26th of May, 2015 at special ceremony in Ilupeju. Funda Wazi, a zulu term translated as ‘Learn and Grow,’ is a non-profit organization that operates in Nigeria and South Africa. Funda Wazi’s mission is to develop child-friendly and relevant resources and tools that will assist children and adults to “learn and know” how to address social challenges affecting children.
Established by Pastor Nomthi Odukoya, a seasoned South African educator and Associate Pastor with The Fountain of Life Church, Funda Wazi works with children, teachers, schools and parents to ensure that children are well equipped to cope with childhood, puberty and adolescence. The launch of the foundation was also accompanied by the launch of Pastor Nomthi’s second book for children titled “A Bully is Not a Hero.” The launch which was attended by students, government officials and selected members of the public, unveiled three ambassadors including award winning actors Femi Jacobs, Desmond Elliot, and news broadcaster Amarachi Ubani.
Below is a text of the speech given by Pastor Nomthi Odukoya, founder and chairman of Funda Wazi foundation:
Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I have always worked with children. I am fascinated by the way their minds work and the wisdom they exhibit even at young ages.
Their smiles, energy, trusting nature and optimistic outlook symbolise the best in humanity. That is why it is always tragic to see children hurt, abused, deprived or rejected. The sadness in the eyes of a hungry child, the lost expression on the face of a child that has been molested and the hopelessness that faces a child whose self-esteem has been destroyed all point to the worst in humanity.
Sadly, most often, adults are responsible for the pain that children suffer. We create the societies that breed abusers, bullies and poverty. We are responsible for the unequal distribution of resources that means some schools have a lot, while others have nothing.
Therefore, it only follows that adults should lead the process of addressing all forms of violence against children. We have a responsibility to create safe environments for ALL children to learn, play, pray and sleep. Children should never be concerned about anything apart from being children and having healthy, productive childhoods.
Many of you in this room already take the responsibility of keeping children safe seriously. You play this role in diverse ways as educators, policy makers, parents, mentors and even pastors.
I am also committed to taking this responsibility seriously and have been doing so my whole life. But today, we are here to launch a platform where I can contribute towards making children safe in a professional, sustainable and accountable way. That platform is Funda Wazi – a non-profit organisation that will develop child-friendly resources and tools to equip children and adults in ensuring children’s safety and wellbeing.
I never really planned to establish an NGO. This journey started with a strong desire to address the horrible stories I had heard from different women on child molestation in Nigeria. God inspired me to write a book titled “No…Don’t touch me there”. The reception the book received overwhelmed me. People bought the book and gave children everywhere, and the feedback I received was amazing. In no time, schools were inviting me to speak to children, and increasingly I started hearing about how children were using the book to protect themselves. When people started asking for the book in different languages, I knew I was in trouble…but good trouble. The question became, how can we get the book to more children and more broadly, how do I develop resources that will help adults and children deal with everyday challenges?
I have a husband who thinks fast…and works even faster. Before long, we were working on an NGO that would serve as a platform to reach more people in a structured way.
Funda Wazi, which means “Learn & Know” in Zulu, my mother tongue (I am now Yoruba), is really about increasing learning and knowledge on issues affecting children in a way that children and adults can work together to develop solutions.
Funda Wazi is not an advocacy organisation, but we plan to work with advocates; we are not policy makers but we plan to influence policies. Funda Wazi will have its headquarters in Nigeria but will also work in South Africa, where, as many of you may know, there are also issues of children’s safety and wellbeing.
My vision is that this organisation will produce resources and tools that will be a conversation starter on many difficult topics; serve as an encouragement for children that do not know what to do in difficult situations; provide learning aids for educators; and tools for action for advocates and policy makers.
I will be doing this work with an experienced Board of Trustees (introduce board), staff and volunteers. However, we hope to work with all of you in this room and many more that are not present. I am particularly pleased that we have other NGOs and government representatives present in this room. You are important partners and I look forward to meeting you all during the networking session.
As a young, small organisation, we have identified some celebrities that will serve as Funda Wazi Ambassadors. They will work with Funda Wazi to ensure that the resources reach all parts of Nigeria.
I would like to end by expressing sincere appreciation to my husband– you continue to be my motivator and support; my Board of Trustees, who are already working hard;as well as other members of the team. I would especially like to thank all the children present–thank you all so much for coming. To all our guests, I say thank you for honouring our invitation.
God bless you all.