Dr Jophia Nanke Gupar, an activist, is the founder of Pan African Young Women Development Initiative (PAYWODI). She is passionate about empowerment of young women
I was born in Kaduna, Kaduna State. My father was a soldier, later on when he retired from service he joined the Plateau State ministry of works and my mum was a nurse she retired as a matron in 2003, I am their first child. We are 10 with seven surviving, three are dead my dad inclusive. My mum is still alive but in her seventies. My growing up was not too challenging as a young girl, because my parents were educated and exposed and so were used to handling challenges that has to do with young people. My mum was always there to ensure that one did not derail as a growing child and she made sure I was engaged especially in church activities and leisure time activities like the Girls Guide, Brownies and Red Cross.
There was no dull moment for me as a growing child because of the kind of parents I have. I attended Plateau State Polytechnic where I studied local government administration and finance, I then proceeded to the University of Jos to study public administration.
The way my parents were involved in my growing up helped shape my life. I remember vividly my first experience at a youth camp, little did we know that the aim of the camp was to train us on emergency, as well as how to be self-reliant.
I remember there was a time I was complaining with my younger sisters. We wondered how we could have two house maids in my house and my mum still insist we wash not only our clothes but the clothes of the house maids as well. My late dad when he heard our complaints, told us that they were just training us for the future, but it didn’t make sense to us at that time. Today, those lessons they taught me when I was small are now my guiding principles in life.
My mum taught me to be self-reliant. I don’t depend on people to get things done. I have seen challenges and betrayals. I have been set up numerous times. However, I know where I am coming from and the kind of family I come from, so it doesn’t move me because I have a very solid background in terms of proper upbringing. My parents did not compromise especially my mother. And that is what is helping me to be doing what I am doing today.
There are two things I always ask God for every day I wake up. I ask God for long life and good health. If you don’t have both, you can’t pursue your dreams. Which is why I always ask God for those two things. Then every time I am facing a challenge I always try to see what good will come out of it. For every challenge I have faced in my life, for every set up, lies and back biting I have ever faced in my life, God has blessed me through them. That is why I don’t keep records of wrong done to me, I see them as stepping stones.
Look at the second colloquium we had recently, we didn’t have resources to pay for live television coverage for two and half hours, as a media person you can imagine how much that would have cost us. But we were live on AIT courtesy of Chief Raymond Dokpesi because he has passion for women issues. He also brought the musician that came from Liberia to sing and share her experiences with us. Every gadget you saw there AIT brought it for free. Imagine if l had derailed from my focus, I won’t be getting all these support. I will focus on my growth and mandate God has given me because this organization is a platform God is using to change and help our African mothers to train children in the right way. I am a product of the right training because if my mother didn’t impact those training on me, where would I be today? Maybe I would have been long dead.
We are trying but it isn’t enough. I am being honest with you because I am in the system. I would however say that they have woken up lately because they can see they are being left behind. Presently, Nigerian women are trying to catch up.
I love women activism because if I don’t do it there is no way they will hear my voice or what I am fighting for or get support.
Look at Nigeria you see children studying under trees because there are no classrooms or even where there are, they are without roofs. I just returned from Ghana, while there, I visited some of their villages, they are very clean.
Early this year I decided to go and meet with my local chief and was asking him about the health center, to my surprise he told me that the health center in my village (Abwor/Diyu in Lantan district of Pankshin LGA) which caters for eight villages, does not have a resident doctor. A former member of the House of Representatives representing my area, tried by bringing good drinking water.
I hope and pray that this summer we will be able to do some things through associates and friends of my NGO to provide some assistance for my people. If everybody does that in their community, you can imagine the positive changes they would make.
No community should lack good health, education and water.
I believe in mentoring. Most of the girls I mentored are doing so well all over the world, some of them are activists, some are panelists discussing and solving women related issues in different parts of the world and I am proud of them. With every country I visit I have adopted children, these I also mentor.
I should but not now because I am undergoing political training, I don’t want to be that politician that doesn’t know her left from right but is in politics. By the time I announce my plans, if I will, you will know I am ready to serve.
Leadership isn’t about luxury. People say my NGO is poor. How can an NGO be rich when there are interventions here and there? For anything that comes in there are interventions/problems to be solved. During the last election I was so glad at the role I played with the women for women he for she campaign. We mobilized women, both voters and aspirants. Plateau State had the highest women aspirants and we are already preparing our women to be more capable for 2023 because if we leave leadership of this nation only in the hands of these men, things will get worse.
So if I decide to go into politics, I will sit with my people draw the blue print and run it with them, and if I don’t perform I will resign.
Well I want to be remembered as that woman leader that gave those under her room to excel. I want to be remembered as one who added value to lives.
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