Blessing, a youth activist in Nigeria, has been campaigning for justice for every child during COVID-19 and she shares ways she has been working under the COVID-19 restrictions.
Blessing Okebugwu is the founder and coordinator of the BFL Foundation, a youth-led organisation in northern Nigeria which aims to combat all forms of gender-based violence (GBV), especially child abuse. The group also promotes sexual and reproductive health understanding amongst adolescents and young people.
In her community, many children and young people don’t have access to phones or social media, so digital campaign tactics aren’t suitable.
From the early stages of the campaign, Blessing has been a strong believer in the message and tactics of the Justice for Every Child campaign. She has shared invaluable insights into the ways in which she and her fellow activists are running the campaign offline, to help other activists working in communities like hers.
Blessing really wanted to engage her community with this campaign at the grassroots level.
To minimise costs, her group used large recycled cardboard sheets to display the campaign messaging and added painted hands to reflect the campaign’s ‘Hands Up for the 1 in 5’ imagery - demonstrating solidarity and demanding action for the 1 in 5 children worldwide living on $2 dollars or less a day. These signs were then displayed around areas that were visible within prominent areas in the community, for example on the routes people walk to and from local grocery stores.
Blessing also met with her local chief and sought his approval for running the campaign within the community. He gladly gave his approval for community members to mobilise in support of the campaign.
On Saturdays and Wednesdays children were playing football outside, not respecting the lockdown or social distancing. Blessing engaged with the children and young people, and educated them about the importance of social distancing, hand washing, and good hygiene. She also explained the Justice for Every Child campaign and invited them to raise their hands for the 1 in 5 children who are at the highest risk from the impact of COVID-19. They took part by colouring their thumbs to indicate the 1 in child in 5, and held up posters in support of the campaign. Blessing has been sharing these on social media.
As the campaign continues, Blessing intends to create more awareness, using social media, as well as displaying more hand sketches around locations in her community.
She will work with the 100 Million global team to think about how her group can engage with decision-makers from her local and national governments and invite them to join the campaign by delivering Justice for Every Child.
Blessing wants to send a message to other youth activists working during this challenging situation.
“No one needs to be compelled into activism, it's a choice born out of passion. Passion to make positive change in the future, passion to help the vulnerable children who may not even say thank you. That's what makes life fulfilling. As an activist we are ready to leave our comfort zone to make sacrifices for justice and to put smiles on faces without expecting anything in return. Let's all get up! ACT!”