Updated: Dec 8, 2020
It would be an understatement to say that Dahunsi is one of the most passionate and engaged YIMs I have been fortunate enough to meet so far. At the age of 13, Dahunsi was deeply impacted by the lack of education he witnessed in his community and knew he had to do something about it. The power of his story is such, this interview brought tears to my eyes by the energy I was witnessing. So, I decided I do not want to write an article about this one, but rather give you the chance to experience Dahunsi’s passion firsthand.
What inspired you to found “Teens World Empowerment”?
I grew up in a remote community where access to quality education didn't seem to be a concern to parents. I was bothered, as someone from an educated background, from parents to siblings, which resulted in me getting access to internship opportunities whilst more than a few of my neighbourhood friends couldn't as much compose essays. It felt like backlash from their parents' seeming reluctance to the need for education, which was further influenced by their inability to provide other basic needs.
I witnessed these friends of mine begin engaging in hard drugs rather early on, casually hanging out with street urchins, popularly known as "Agbero." Having heard too many stories of the cliche endings these former friends were geared towards, I knew I needed to do something.
Having grown up as an inquisitive child, when I became a teeanger at age 13 I began carrying out research, perusing several webpages on Google, just to learn if there was a concrete reason as to why this seemed a norm; why education wasn't priority on minds of mostly poor parents and how big of an issue it is. I was overwhelmed to find out that an estimated 10.5 million children have little or no access to quality education in Nigeria and some 260 million globally do not go to school, that's a pool of the next potential Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Nelson Mandela, or even Antonio Guterres.
With these figures outstanding and definitely shocking, it dawned on me, one of the reasons why unemployment is a prevalent issue in my community and country at large. Which new governments promise quality education but never deliver. I couldn't hold the question 'If not now! When?’
At the core, my research couldn't help yield any self implementable and sustainable means of guaranteeing quality education, as a 13 year old. After about a year of still digesting this harsh reality and going to school, I continued my research, now more matured and having asked my parents tonnes of questions.
I delved into learning the root of the problem more in depth and figured, due to lack of quality education, people are made to do menial jobs, which cannot sustain neither them nor their families, and it dawned on me, the cycle of which these people bring children into society and make the kids go through the same process because they can't get access to quality education nor afford it. But having first hand experienced how much the saying "knowledge is power" meant, I had to do something, to solve at least one of the problems.
Did you feel supported as a young teenager in your pursuit to build such a project?
I firstly didn't get any support from outside, but I used my challenges as opportunities to fuel my passion. I have definitely found support in the communities we go to, as people see the work that we do, appreciate it and provide us with their school halls, computers and even staff so we can train students effectively.
How did your education and school years help you in achieving your goals and founding Teens world empowerment?
Education is a cornerstone in shaping a child's life and by education I mean both formal and informal. The kind of education I had, including the kinds of people I met in school and my experiences helped me to better understand the root of the problem, and a more structural and sustainable way to develop Teens World Empowerment. It was more than just me wanting to solve a problem for someone. My experiences in my school years gave me a clearer picture of why many people in my community had no access to education in the first place.
How do you define education and what is the one thing education is lacking, according to your experience?
Education is an enlightening experience, in which people can utilize the information given to them by teachers through their different experiences, into something that can create a change in their different communities and lives. Unfortunately the educational sector is lacking the very important element of balanced enlightenment, which gives learner's the ability to dream beyond the classrooms.
How do you stay positive and motivated when experiencing difficulties or setbacks in your journey? What is the one thing you have learned through “failure”?
I let my hunger for change override the negative thoughts of giving up, so I look back on the people that have been helped through us, and those who have provoked conversations for change because of us. I've failed a lot of times, but the one important thing that failure teaches you is consistency, which in my definition is the need to keep pressing until you gain mastery, whereby you can now guide people in the area.
What is one thing you want to share with young teenagers feeling inspired to build their own initiative?
My word to young teenagers is that once you've identified what you want to do, don't stop! Start Something! Make Something! Do it! The world is waiting for you!
What is a belief that you will hold with you for a lifetime?
Life is a gift that has been given to us. It is in our hands to make the best out of it - dare to believe that you can. Through the ups and downs, you'll find a lesson to learn, that will make you and your world better. Each experience - good or bad - makes you grow. Get along with life, and surely, things will become easier for you. Live for today and enjoy every moment. Capture the best that life has to offer you.
If you could get a message across to the whole world, what would that message be?
Many of us were recipients of another's cruelty. Many of us have been the very thing we hate.
Change it. We have the power.
Don't let traditions, parents, rules, expectations, and jealousy make you forget that. You were created by One who had a grander purpose. Be the person you were meant to be. You have everything you need to begin. Stop wasting time waiting for the perfect moment to begin. It's now…right now. Start with what you have, and let doors open for you. Don't let friends, family, and negativity keep you where you are. Unlock your inner Awesome and go!
It's time to change the world ourselves, and our destiny. There's more to life than a job with benefits. We were given too much to feel a need to settle. It's our job to create a beautiful world. Teach our children they really can do anything. Believe it for yourself. Stop doubting, stop operating off of fear. Fear only means to Face Everything And Rise.
Stop wasting our precious gifts. We have everything. We have it within us to turn even the worst slums into paradise. Love one another, but not so much it hinders you. Love yourself enough to give yourself the best. There's more than enough for us to have a slice of the pie.
Don't let poverty keep you down. Don't let bad lovers keep you from valuing yourself. Don't let fame destroy you. We're all in this together, we're all we got.
But that's enough. We're all we need.
I believe in you. Start believing in yourselves. Kings, presidents, and leaders will not make our world better. We will. It starts and ends with us. It always has. Start now. Start today. One little change will make a big difference. One hug can save a life.
Let's be one people.
Division has done nothing but destroy us. It's ok to be different, but stop being afraid of it. We're so much alike where it counts. I've met people from all over the world, and I love them like family. Color doesn't matter, only love. Let's accept one another for who we are, not who we wish to be. Until we are one tribe, we will always be incomplete as a people.
If nothing else, let these words touch your heart. Be your best. Give life your all. I love you.
Everyone has a special ingredient in them, just find your spice and stand out."
In the next couple of years Dahunsi sees Teens World Empowerment as an established institute ready to provide quality education, by giving young people a balanced and structured learning through direct partnerships with both private and public entities globally.