On September 27, President Dekle visited the Community Development Center, Yola, where she interacted with women from the University’s host community who make products from waste materials.
The two projects, Creating with Thread and Waste-to-Wealth, which the women promote as Yola EcoSentials, have given them a means to acquire skills and to earn a livelihood from the sale of their products. The project was started in 2012 as an initiative by the University through its Office of Sustainability to help empower women from the University’s host community while also cleaning the environment of wastes.
From the very moment President Dekle saw the women’s handiwork, she expressed admiration and even purchased some.
“Two weeks ago, I bought one rug and two bowls, they are very beautiful,” Dr. Dekle told the women, adding that she had come to visit them today to thank them for spending time doing such beautiful work.
To further encourage them, the President requested that they design for her use specific items such as an eyeglass case, pen/pencil holder, and long skirt using patchwork materials, using their raw materials.
The excited women presented one of their products, an AUN branded phone casing, as a gift to the President.
To mark her visit, the President distributed knitting needles to the women.
“I think this project really exemplifies what our University and our community are about. It’s an entrepreneurial mindset. It’s taking rags and wastes, and it’s transforming riches and wealth into such beautiful things.”
The women would learn that Dr. Dekle’s favorite color is green. Not only was the President thrilled to meet the women, she would notice that they were also excited by her visit.
“What astonishes me most”, said the President “is the creativity I am seeing, the bright colors and the lively work environment. They are so happy to be here. I want to come and work with them, just to be around such happy people. It is just amazing to me. I’m so happy to see this.”
Commenting on the impact of the project on the community, she said it is much more than economic empowerment.
“It is bringing people together, it is forming a society. It is giving them a second home. They come together, become colleagues and more than neighbors. They become sisters with a common goal. The money they make, they are reinvesting back into the community, back into education, back into food for their tables. It’s beyond just economics.”
By Omorogbe Omorogiuwa