Yinka Kenny, founder of the NGO, Yinkakenny Girls Care Foundation, has gone through thick and thin and emerged strong. Her inspiring life story makes her today’s Woman of Substance
I am from Oyo State but born and grew up in Lagos State. The seventh in a polygamous home of 10 children.
I started working at an early age of 17 immediately after secondary school at Faraday Nigeria Limited, as a factory worker. I moved on to work as a Kindergarten teacher. While working as a teacher, I sponsored myself through school for a three-year course in Secretarial Administration and Management which paved the way for me to get an employment as a general office secretary at a corporate office, Ademakinwa Ademiluyi and Co.
From there I moved on to work as the Personal Secretary of the late G. O. K. Ajayi, SAN for a period of three and half years. Thereafter I went on to work for Silvertrust Insurance Brokers Ltd for over 10 years as the Personal Secretary to the managing director/chief executive officer, Mr. Gboyega Oyetola who is now the Governor of the state of Osun.
As fate would have it, I was struck down by a strange illness, forced to leave my job and was bedridden for a straight period of two years and never fully recovered for a period of 15 years of my life. Having to cope with my health challenge, I had to start a crèche, went into event management, ran a mobile catering business, delivering food from office to office from as early as 5am.
I got married and had to build a family, had my first child who also had to be in the Intensive Care Unit for a period of nine weeks after birth and had to be in and out of the hospital until he was finally discharged from LUTH and the Orthopaedic Hospital at the age of three. I had my daughter seven years after my son, which triggered my health challenges all over again.
For various reasons, I had to go through the pain of separation, suffered heavy consequences therefrom, and accumulated debts from business and the home-front which affected my income streams. Everywhere I turned for assistance, I met brick walls, leaving me without a choice than to start from the scratch. My love for children got the better of me and I had to start a crèche again taking loan from the bank in order to pick up the pieces of my life struggling through thick and thin.
I have always had the passion for broadcasting and so my quest for a career in broadcasting took me to Top Radio where I co-anchored an educational show called “Grammatical Licence” for a period of two years without being paid because I wanted to accumulate appropriate cognate experience. Immediately after, I formerly attended a school of broadcasting, National Broadcast Academy (formerly FRCN) where I studied Broadcast Presentation after which I joined Wfm 91.7 for a period of two years. During that period, I seized the opportunity of social media and started off with social media broadcasting through my Facebook wall and YouTube channel which gave me the brand “Yinkakenny”, which later gave birth to my own media outfit “Yinkakenny Productions”. By the special grace of God, today I run my own television programme called “Perspectives with Yinkakenny” on Mitv and also co-present a radio show on Metro Fm 97.7 called “Eve” alongside other media jobs. I can only give glory to God for how far he has brought me. Today, I am fully involved in show business and have had the opportunity to anchor various events covering all spheres of life involving the private, governmental, local and national levels.
This year also, I got a professional qualification as Associate Member, Institute of Professional Speechmasters and Linguistics Proficiency (IPSLP)
At this point I should mention the fact that I was violated at the age of 16 for a period of one year by a trusted family friend but never had the courage to mention to anyone until the age of 40. I had nursed the idea of being there for teenage girls and building bonds between teenage girls and their mothers. I started off at the age of 40 by organising seminars/conferences to enlighten teenage girls, getting close to them and making them voice out their pains/issues they have not developed confidence to talk about, thereby helping them with solutions and directing them to the right quarters where they can get help. This finally gave birth to my NGO “Yinkakenny Girls Care Foundation” in the year 2017 with a flag off event called “My Daughter My Friend”. Ever since then I have been fully involved with helping the female gender voice out their unspoken pains through my several programs like 4G Giants (I’m a girl, I’m good , I’m great and I’m a genius) where we sensitise girls on danger signals to rape, drug abuse, teach martial art for self defence, etc, programs like Parenting in the 21st century and many more.
I also derive pleasure in catering for the elderly, so I have a quarterly event where I give to the elderly through my programme tagged “Operation Feed the Elderly”. Getting funds for my events had always been a great challenge but in all God has been faithful.
I must say that foremost, experience is my greatest mentor. I learnt a lot through the good, bad and ugly I went through, most especially as a teenager and a married woman. Big credit to my “mum” given to me by my biological mother, Mrs Marian Olubunmi Oyewole. However, because I am a devoted Christian my path came across the great man of God, Pastor Pius Adaun who taught me to have a close relationship with God.
By the grace of God I have the opportunity to mentor a lot of teenage girls with hidden pains and fears. Also mentored women going through domestic violence in their marriages because this was what I went through and can feel their pain.
I get my greatest inspiration from the word of God, it keeps me going and gives me an assurance of possibilities even in impossible situation.
I will like to be remembered for impacting the lives of teenage girls and being there for heartbroken women.
In my sojourn in life, I have been battered, beaten, bruised and left with scars. I have fallen down flat a lot of times struggling to find my feet, lost direction at different times. However, through it all, GIVING UP WAS NEVER AN OPTION. Life was never a bed of roses but my mission statement was never to remain down believing in a better tomorrow giving me strength to move on knowing that the sky is just the starting point for me.
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