This is the year of young people. That has been my line of thinking since the beginning of the year when the African Union declared the theme for 2017 as ‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth’. This was in recognition of the humongous opportunity that lies in the African continent having young people of working age being more numerous than the dependent population. A reading of the mission of UNLEASH when I made my application was confirmation of what was already becoming clear to me — young people are the future and for the world to make progress in ending poverty and promoting sustainable development it needs to nurture their participation and involvement.

Training ONE Champions (volunteers of the organization I work for) in Abuja Nigeria.

I have had the opportunity to attend several conferences and gatherings where young people have been given the platform to speak and share ideas. What amazing ideas, what inspiration and what inventiveness. All this has been getting me very excited about the possibilities and the amazing potential that lies in young people from all over the world. For me, UNLEASH is going to be a great platform to meet people, share ideas, brainstorm and bring our heads together to ‘change the world and make it into a better place’. Currently, I have been doing a lot of work around girl’s education, health in Nigeria and women’s empowerment and hence I am looking forward to discussing some of the projects I have been working on and getting feedback from other talents. I am super excited to be a part of UNLEASH, and I know with no doubt that great things are going to come out of this gathering of talented young people.

Someone signing a petition during one of our campaigns.

I am a humanitarian at heart. For as long as I can remember, I have always had the burning desire to help other people and not be one of life’s backbenchers. It has been a journey, one filled with life changing moments and many lessons. Years ago after completing a master’s degree in Human Rights Practice, I got my first full-time job with a developmental organisation which fights poverty through advocacy and campaigning for better policies in health, education, transparency and accountability, women empowerment and agriculture. I thought I had it all figured out, and that finally, I was going to ‘change the world’, and I am but a step a time — not in the whirlwind kind of way I had envisioned :). It has been one of the most amazing things to be part of an organisation that works tirelessly to fight poverty. From celebrating the passing of a Land Tenure Act which calls for the effective allocation of 15% of the land to the women of Mali to helping secure at least $37.5 billion in funding for historic health initiatives, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. We also played our part to ensure that no one was left behind and that the world’s most vulnerable people had a say in the development of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Now that the SDGs are a reality, it is an honour to be a part of something like UNLEASH to keep the momentum going in the fight against poverty, injustices and diseases.

As the days get closer, my excitement keeps rising. I cannot believe that in less than ten days I will be mingling with some of the most talented people in the world. It is surely going to be a life changing moment.