Can’t pronounce it? Neither can I, but that doesn’t stop me from shining a light on this good lady. I was thinking 🤔 last night, when I was searching for a subject for today’s good people post, that nearly all the good people I have highlighted thus far have been in the U.S., though in some cases, most notably Bill and Melinda Gates, their philanthropy extends well beyond U.S. borders. But I was thinking, and I knew there had to be a lot of good people doing good things for humanity in other countries, nations far more in need of good deeds, and I wanted to break out of my mold a bit. Well, of course I was right … we in the U.S. do not have a monopoly on good people or good deeds. So, today I would like to introduce you to Olajumoke Olufunmilola Adenowo, from Nigeria.
“They say charity begins at home. They don’t say it ends at home. So we need to find out quickly, what our assignment is. Why am I here on earth? I looked hard at it and I taught [sic] that what would make my life worthwhile at the end of the day is the investment I make in somebody else’s. When I’m gone, all that will be left of me is memories people have of me. And they’ll ask “what did she do for me”. So my goal is to affect the greatest number of people maximally.”
In putting her money where her mouth is, she runs two NGOs that focus on national reformation. Awesome Treasures Foundation is an interactive youth programme geared towards changing the mindset of young Nigerians, while Hidden Treasures is a women’s empowerment outreach. “I believe that Nigeria can work. And I believe that Nigerians will make Nigeria work.”
Ms. Adenowo is a successful architect, owner of a four-office architectural firm, AD Consulting in Lekki, Lagos Nigeria. She has designed buildings for both Nigerian federal and state governments, multinational corporate organizations and private corporations such as Coca Cola International, L’Oreal and others. But despite her success, she remains a humble woman.
“The things that move me, that I consider an honour may not seem important to others. I was sent a photo from a university in Ghana. In their lecture hall, they had placed my photo among the world’s greatest architects, right after Frank Lloyd Wright and two others. I was stunned.”
But let us look more closely at her two philanthropic works.
Ms. Adenowo founded Awesome Treasures Foundation in 1999 to empower women like Elizabeth Paul. A few short years ago, Ms. Paul was an illiterate 51-year-old who sold peanuts by the side of the road in Lagos, Nigeria and who had little or no hope for a better life. Now she runs her own interior design firm, employs 10 others and is putting her two daughters through college. “African women, we are capable of anything,” she says. “We just need someone to believe in us.”
Awesome Treasures has helped over 11,000 such women rise above what they once saw as the limitations of simply being female in a male-dominated society.
In addition to empowering women, the foundation provides resources for youth. They run Camp Dawn, an educational camp, to address the education gap for inner-city kids. Another program is Awesome Princesses, a group for young girls in the tenements and slums of Lagos who are at risk of sexual abuse and HIV/AIDS. Medical screenings and educational intervention is frequently needed.
A visit to the Awesome Treasures Foundation website states their mission:
- To Promote Social Justice, Social Welfare and equity, create awareness of and a demand for the restoration of the citizenry’s common wealth rights.
- To Rebuild social, moral and physical values.
- To Utilize our gifts, position, influence and power to expand and consolidate positive change
- To Reproduce ourselves.
“I believe that Nigeria can work. And I believe that Nigerians will make Nigeria work. I’ve found out that a lot of women and youth are asking what the nation can do for them. And I think they should ask what they can do for the nation. Because they were not born by accident. The youth are particularly disillusioned. And you don’t blame them because when you look around it seems like there’s not much opportunity being given to them.
What happens is that first we give the youth an opportunity to speak. We teach patriotism, diligence and entrepreneurship. We teach them to love their country and to believe in themselves. Instead of being bitter about the way the country has failed them; to see themselves as the solution to the nation’s problems. We want them to see themselves as change agents.
We all come to a consensus that the country might have challenges but we can do something about it. And they listen and become assertive, saying “yes” they can do something about it. Sometimes they even take a pledge. The last time we held the programme Ife, we had about 5,000 youths saying they’re going to do something about it.”
In terms of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), Nigeria is ranked 120th of 175 by the World Bank, and 126th of 186 by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). By comparison, the U.S. ranks 9th and 11th respectively.
Nigeria has an adult literacy rate (age 15 and over who can read and write) or 75.6% for males and 58% for females.
“We are done teaching women how to fish,” says Adenowo. “We want to give them the whole damn lake.”
Ms. Adenowo may not be saving lives in the floodwaters of Houston, or adopting special needs children, but every nation has its own specific needs, and Ms. Adenowo is meeting the needs of women and youth in Nigeria. What she is doing is making a contribution to humanity, but also in the long run, helping make Nigeria a stronger nation.
In addition to a thriving architectural practice, two philanthropic organizations, a husband and two active boys, Adenowo runs a property management firm, sits on the boards of a number of businesses, and has somehow found time to write and publish five books! I might like to borrow some of both her spirit and her energy!