Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF) is one of the non-governmental bodies in Nigeria whose interests cuts across board. Youth education, health development, sports development, employability, apprenticeship, leadership and more. With over 21 years of impact, YEF is not ready to stop as it is daily gaining grounds and recording more successes.
In this interview with YNaija’s Impact365, we are let into the core details of their campaigns, collaborations and future projects.
Can you please tell us more about your NGO?
Youth Empowerment Foundation (YEF) was founded in 1995 by two sisters. It is a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Nigeria with activities covering States in Nigeria. YEF as an organization working to improve the quality of life of young people is committed to respectability, honesty, integrity, excellence and service in working with the young people as well as an assurance of confidentiality.
YEF has conducted needs assessment/research on perceived or identified gaps; worked to improve, strengthen youth programs and services; disseminated and promoted information, tools, and evidence-based approaches at national, regional, and international levels. In its commitment to improving the lives of young people, YEF works with other NGOs, CBOs, Faith-based organizations, and government agencies at Federal, State and Local levels in the implementation of various interventions including Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) and HIV/AIDS. YEF, in partnership with Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is the initiator of the hotline services in Nigeria and the first to use the facility to provide counseling and referral services to the young people on SRH & HIV/AIDS. Over the years our programs have expanded to include education and sport development, secured livelihood, and environment.
The organization has worked in partnership with UN agencies, multinational agencies, and corporate bodies such as Coca-Cola Nigeria, Standard Chartered Bank, MRS Oil (formerly known as Texaco), The John D. and Catherine T. Mac Arthur Foundation, UNICEF, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). YEF was a pioneer beneficiary of the competitive World Bank/HAF 1 Fund in 2003, based on her outstanding performance; YEF was awarded the competitive grant World Bank/HAF 3, in 2009.
Can you please recount some of your distinct success stories since you started the NGO?
The first national HIV/AIDS Hotline project initiated by the Youth Empowerment Foundation on 14th February 2000 with one private phone line marked the beginning of an innovative concept to serve Nigerians at their point of need. The hotline was started in response to various controversies surrounding HIV/AIDS in Nigeria at that time particularly on claims of cure. The initiative was implemented for 18 months before it received technical support from the Johns Hopkins University Centre for Communication Programs and funding from the USAID for a pilot project.
With the support, it expanded to seven lines operated with other NGOs for the various geo political zones in the country providing confidential counseling/information on reproductive health issues, HIV & AIDS to the public. These calls cut across various ages, different professions, class, and creed.
GOAL PROJECT – STANDARD CHARTERED BANK
The GOAL Project started in the year 2010 with the main goal of empowering young girls through capacity building interventions that address three levels of personal, social, and economic development.
Goal is a Standard Chartered Bank supported project. Goal uses life skills education and sport on and off the field to empower adolescent girls. The methodology being employed is advocacy, training, and sports development activities. It is a dynamic project implemented by various organizations around the world that provide girls with critical facts about health, communication, rights and how to manage their personal finances with the aim of making the girls agents of change who in turn impact positive changes on their siblings, parents, peers, and communities. The project has reached over 80,000 beneficiaries directly and indirectly; Goal has continued till date due to its success in Nigeria.
MY HAND, MY FUTURE – TY DANJUMA FOUNDATION
It was a one year project financed by TY Danjuma Foundation. It was targeted at out-of-school youth at Pyakassa, a rural community in Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) in Nigeria. The overall goal of the project is to empower youth with entrepreneurial and employability skills through vocational training, mentorship programmes, life skills, business development and financial management skills against the increasing economic hardships, social and health related hazards of life and decreasing HIV-related risk behavior of young people.
Young people who benefited from trainings did peer education and community sensitization outreaches in the communities with adult advocates and mentors through service learning projects. This was complemented by a strategic communication approach that involved mass and community media as well as IEC and BCC material development.
BUILDING YOUNG WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP THROUGH SPORTS – WOMEN WIN
Building Young Women’s Leadership Through Sports (BYWLTS) empowered young women to exercise their rights using sports. It helped to increase and improve access to services and assets such as Education, Health, Family Planning, Finance, and Justice. The project was sponsored by Women Win, Amsterdam through a direct grant from DFID and it was implemented in eight Junior Secondary Schools in Lagos among young girls ages between 12 and 16.
The project involved developing leadership skills of girls and young women; strengthening an enabling environment where women leaders can improve their ability to act as agents of change in their communities, countries and at the global level. Over 2,880 beneficiaries directly and indirectly.
Job Shadowing: we expose some of the young people we work with to some weeks of shadowing their career of choice during the holiday. This exposes them to learn about an occupation or profession; witness firsthand the work environment, employability and occupational skills in practice, the value of professional training and potential career options
Gender-Based Violence: YEF has also been involved with various issues that relates to Gender-based violence and abuse within and outside the school community. This has been a success with strategic partnership with Government and private sector participation.
YEF is focused on educating and empowering youths, can you tell us how widespread your reach has been?
YEF implements its projects across the country with offices in Lagos, Abuja, Ipokia and Ibadan.
What are the challenges you’ve faced so far?
Time allotment due to government policies in some states, the time given by the schools is a challenge with project activities, the lack of fields or playing grounds in most schools makes it difficult to carry out sports practice, government policy, funding, the slow judicial process is also a challenge as some of the cases of abuse in court have been going on for over two years without hope that the girls will get justice soon.
How have you dealt with the challenge of funding?
YEF works within private and public partnerships in the implementation of most of its projects. Over the years, leveraging support across both sectors has contributed immensely to the success of our programs. For instance, our outreach VCT program in tertiary institutions links various resources from the beneficiary institution, to corporate support; strong linkages with public and civil society HIV/AIDS service organization. We also get support from the organization’s Board of Trustees.
Any projects for 2017?
* Goal Project
* Empowered for the future (E4F)
* End violence against children