When we launched ourselves into 2020, I was full of ambitious plans and high expectations, but little did I know that 2020 would turn out to be one of the strangest and most chaotic times in living memory.
My year was due to begin with a ticket to attend the Global Possibilities Summit (GPS) in Lagos, hosted by Inspired Women of Worth (IWOW), followed by a trip to visit my family and friends. At the time, my grandma was an impressive 110-year-old. Unfortunately, my visit was not to be, and my grandma sadly passed away before we had the chance to see each other.
As the plane touched down in Lagos, the world changed overnight; the GPS summit I had been so looking forward to was canceled as a result of COVID-19. Shortly after my grandma’s burial, Nigeria and most of the world went into lockdown.
The pandemic brought unprecedented disruptions. My simple two weeks trip to Nigeria to attend a summit and a funeral became a forced six months stay in a beautiful country. With no interstate travel or international flights allowed, I shifted my perspective and quickly appreciated what a blessing it was to be granted the gift of time in a place where I am so often rushed to leave.
I spent long periods with my family – a luxury I have not experienced in many years. We relaxed together, embraced the quality time, and enjoyed activities we always put aside on shorter visits. As inter-state travel opened up, I explored new regions of Nigeria as a tourist in my own country. It was wonderful! I even learned to drive.
My time in Nigeria during the lockdown opened fresh opportunities in my line of work, which is to advocate for the well-being of those affected by violence against women and girls, and to assist with support and education to prevent and reduce the prevalence of these atrocious acts.
During the lockdown, I started an initiative called D’ Survivor Hub, which aims to raise awareness and advocate for domestic violence victims. D’ Survivor Hub supports abused women to seek help, heal, and rebuild their lives.
In collaboration with a friend, we also started a non-governmental organization called Pamirian Foundation. We aim to reach out and empower individuals in lower and less privileged rural areas in Imo state. Our first project to feed 100 widows and orphans was successfully carried out on 28th December 2020. It has been such a blessing to listen to some of the event’s testimonials which have been a deeply personal and rewarding project.
Getting stuck in Nigeria has been an empowering experience. Not only have I been able to assist women and children in need, but I have also been able to expand my interests and develop my writing skills. I’ve published some articles and taken a professional exam. This has grown my career as a woman and illustrates the importance of enabling women in countries such as Nigeria where women are more prone to being disadvantaged than they are in other parts of the world.
The most profound lesson of 2020 has been to understand the power of perspective. What could have been a disastrous year – stranded abroad and filled with uncertainty, sadness, and loss – has become my greatest year yet.
I learned what truly matters, developed my interests and skills, helped others, and shifted my focus onto family, friends, and activities I usually push aside when I am too busy to give them the attention they deserve.
While 2020 has been a unique and trying year for all, especially with the sad and unfortunate loss of so many lives, there have been some positives for those who choose to see them.
We always have the choice to view problems as a series of challenges and opportunities. It is not the situation that matters, but the lens we use to look at things. We can choose to complain or choose to accept all the possibilities the challenges can bring.
Hidden blessings are everywhere, if only we choose to see them.
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