Ibiene is a Nigerian twenty-something year old. She works as a security supervisor during the day and is the co-founder of The Love Eternity Foundation. She loves Ribena and is a sucker for good poetry. You can find a compilation of her odd thoughts here: www.twitter.com/iamibiene
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My dreams are valid
Ibiene O. Oguntoyinbo
“No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”
– Lupita Nyong’o
What, to me, does it mean to be a dreamer? It means scars and bruises, but victory and attainment in the end. It means sticking out like a sore thumb, trying to communicate the things on your mind and in your heart to family and friends but it all sounding like gibberish as it falls out of your mouth. Dreamers are probably one of the toughest people around; because they move against the tide and keep on moving, feet swamped, legs aching.
I am a dreamer. I have been one since I was about 15 or 16 when I knew for certain that I wanted to spend my life writing and running an NGO. Of course, with my parents it was always: “You better go to school and get a degree.” Fair enough, education is great, so I went to school and got my degrees. But then what? It didn’t stop the fire in my heart from burning. One of the most challenging things about identifying as a dreamer is not seeing the same fire in the eyes of the people you talk to about your dreams; the people who mean the most to you sometimes do not understand the things that mean the most to you. I have sometimes gotten that nonchalant response from my family about my writing and social work. Till this day I feel as though my parents address the things I really want for myself casually, without understanding why I want these things and what motivates me to pursue them.
So, Ayokunle wrote me an email in October; he recently wrote a book of poems and wants to create an avenue through which a collection of people can communicate what it means for them to be dreamers. Part of that initiative is what you’re reading now. Reading Ayokunle’s email gave me mixed feelings: I was happy that there are several of us young people striving to do what we want with our lives, regardless of the obstacles we face. But I was also sad because I have been trying for so long to attain my dreams. I feel tired at times; sometimes I have doubts and question whether this is what I really want to do with my life and if at all I can accomplish it; I get unhappy that it seems to be taking so long to achieve; I get confused about the next phase; I feel stalled by circumstances (most especially financial ones).
Let me tell you a little about the dream I am currently chasing. I started an NGO with my fiancé last year, The Love Eternity Foundation (TLEF). We are a Christian charity aimed at reaching out to people in need. We exist to bring hope to the needy, the oppressed, the homeless, the poor, and are dedicated to helping the voiceless find their voice, the weak regain their strength and inspiring emancipation from the fetters of poverty. Our aim is to help people in their time of need, and partner with them as they transition to better, self-reliant lives. We aim to do this by starting small; by running outreaches to orphanages, prisons and inner cities. Our big vision is to build homes for orphans and the homeless, and to run free vocational schools where people can learn skills that will help them earn a living.
On 31st January 2015, TLEF will be launching in Lagos, Nigeria, with a visit to an orphanage in a suburb called Egbeda. We will be taking food items to the children who live there and will spend a few hours with them. We are really excited about the launch of the charity. It’s a small step but it is one step towards reaching more lives and making a bigger difference.
Like I said earlier, since I was about 15/16 I knew what I wanted to do, but the registration of TLEF and watching it become a reality just happened last year. That’s a 10 year time span. How many more ’10 years’ do I have, I wonder? With the money, time and hard work we put into getting TLEF registered with the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission, getting a bank account open and a website up, you would think I would have been over the moon in excitement. But mainly, what I felt as I sent emails out mid-October 2014 concerning the launch of TLEF was tiredness. I just felt tired. No excitement. Just tired.
But I’ve got to keep going. Whether or not I want to. Whether or not I feel excited. Whether or not I get a response. Whether or not anyone even reads this post. I know that this is what I want to do and that I can achieve it. If I stop now ─ and I can’t, after sending God-knows-how-many emails announcing the launch of the NGO ─ I won’t accomplish anything. And I have to accomplish this. Because, cliché as it sounds, this is what I was born to do. And that is one of the most rewarding things about being a dreamer; knowing that you are right where you are supposed to be.
So, friend, if my dreams are valid, so are yours. Go chase them.
Quite important to note, one of the ways to support the work that Ibiene and TLEF is doing is by helping to spread the word about the organization. Find TLEF on twitter (@LoveEternityNgr) and instagram (@loveeternityngr) and for more information online, at their website: www.theloveeternityfoundation.org.
For more information, donation, inquiry, partnership, etc., you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Also, TLEF just got their first batch of t-shirts printed, so you’re encouraged to check them out on their instagram page.
Just for fun, I asked Ibiene: if you could go back to a specific moment in history, where would you go, and why? Her response: I would go back to the sixth grade; when Crystal Karam hit me during PE for no apparent reason. I would have hit her right back so that she realized that, like the rest of us, she was not invincible.
With what’s been said, I think the bar’s definitely been set high for the next guests who will be sharing their experiences in the #DreamerDoerProfile series. If you’re reading, no pressure…