• The amazing Story Of A Young, Beautiful Young Nigerian Entrepreneur Who Devotes Her Time and Resources To Charity
At 23, Isdora Enwere has added many feathers to her cap. Born and bred in Lagos, Dora is from a humble home. She was not born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth. Nonetheless,she is dutifully using her skills, intellect and scarce resources to impact positively on humanity and her immediate environment. In this interview with PLEASURES MAGAZINE, she tells her amazing story in an enthralling manner.
Isdora Enwere, a psychologist by training, was not born into a wealthy family but her parents ensured that all their children received education. Dora believes that she is not entitled to anything and that she must work hard to be where she dreams to be in life. she has demonstrated that the success is not an entitlement, but rather a direct result of hard work, as well as has a clear vision in life.
Isdora attended her primary and secondary schools in Lagos state Nigeria, and at aged 19, she proceeded to South Africa, where she was enrolled into the University of South Africa, to read psychology. She is a dogged person with deep moral values. She started working barely 3 weeks after she arrived South Africa.Rather than expect money from her parents back home in Nigeria to pay her school fees, hostel accommodation, books, feeding, and general upkeep, she combined work with academics and saw herself through school.
“I have gone through a lot in life. I moved to South Africa when I was 19. My parents were not exactly financially buoyant at the time, so I had to work to pay my school fees, and to be where I am today,” she told Pleasures magazine, in an interview.
But for the grace of God upon her life, Isdora who hails from Umuaka in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo state, wouldn’t have been alive today to tell her success story. She had a kidney disease at the age of 10 that almost took her life. It is an experience she says turned her life around. At that age, she remembers her Mum weeping to the doctor’s prognosis- Her kidney was failing, the doctors had told her parents to make peace with their daughter’s prospective death.
Her family had completed plans to fly her abroad to seek further medical help, but the doctors in Lagos, insisted that the trip would amount to a waste of time and money, as death was already knocking hard and persistently on her door.
The family never lost hope, it is a pure that Dora survived. She is popularly known as the miracle child amongst her siblings because she defied the doctors’ ‘medical opinion’.Little wonder why Isdora’s mother, is a devout Christian and has ensured all her children remain in the fold, no matter age or status.
Her mother is a member of the the Sisters’ Fellowship International, Lagos. According to Dora, “I remember it was during a prayer meeting that the “sisters prayed for me” and I received my “miraculous healing.”
Dora experienced massive improvement in health in the coming months, and ever since then, Isdora has never gone to any hospital. It is an amazing story for her. She has devoted her time and resources to help children and women who may have lost hope. She believes every life matters, “if there is life, there is hope she says”.
Apparently against the backdrop of her draining childhood experiences, Isdora resolved to work hard to eschew hunger, poverty and disease, as well show appreciation to God for raising her from grass to grace, by embarking on charity work.
“I was always going to orphanage homes and prisons to give gifts to the less-privilegedand inmates. And when I was 18 years-old, I told my parents that I wanted to register a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), that would cater for the welfare, health and educational needs of children,” she said.
And that was the beginning of the NGO that stands today as Dora Aid Foundation (DAF).
She said: “The childhood of every child matters. If not for my childhood, I will not be who I am today. So, I want to impact as many lives as I can, because the childhood is the foundation, if it is not properly laid, it becomes a much harder problem to fix.”
Explaining further, she said: “Some lives could be cut short if these interventions are not done. And you know that in Nigeria today, so many things are not right.
“The government has failed in so many ways.We have seen that some things are not right, and we are trying to make them right in our own little way.I have a small team, but we are passionate about our causes.We believe that we can make a difference and we have been doing that in the last five years.”
“I had relations that couldn’t go to school; children are dying because there is no body to intervene in their health.”
Consequently, the Dora Aid Foundation is currently running three major projects to save the lives of children, and to give them a future through education.
According to the boss of Dora Aid Foundation, the meal-a-day project was designed to provide a meal per day for children from poor homes.
“Basically, lots of children do not go to school every day because their parents have no food in the house. And even those who go to school, are not able to learn very well in school because they did not eat at home before coming to school.
“So, a meal-a-day is a project meant to provide primary school children in remote areas with food everyday in school,” she explained.
Meanwhile, the meal-a-day project is running in two schools – one at LEA School, Kalaibiama, Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital – covering 100 primary school pupils, and the other one at Unique Primary School, Umuaka, Orlu, Imo state -which caters for 100 pupils.
The foundation also runs a scholarship scheme called ‘Endurance Scholarship,’ which targets destitute children.
“You find out that children are not able to go to school for school fees as little as three thousand naira or two thousand naira, so we try to send such destitute children back to school and pay their school fees.
“The children that qualify to be on this project most often are beneficiaries of our health intervention program. They are just special cases of children whose parents cannot afford to send them to school,” said Isdora.
Health Intervention program
“We have a health intervention program, under this initiative we help the children pay their medical bills. Most times we go for hospital visitation, then in the process, you might see a case that strikes you, and you ask: where are the parents of this child?
“You find out that the parents cannot afford the medical bill of their child, and you adopt the case. Most times, these cases come to us for assistance, and we decide to help them.” said Isdora.
“We also have a new initiative called #ForYoungGirls. We found out that young girls in most IDP camps do not have access to sanitary towels and are exposed to health risks. We are currently trying to source for partners to pool resources and cater for 500 girls for the pilot program. We plan to send each girl two packs of sanitary towels monthly. We are starting with the CSN camp in Maiduguri that has about 470 girls between the ages of 15-25.
On how she raised money to fund her projects, since she doesn’t have rich parents.
She said: “I am going to be honest with you. We haven’t ever sought for sponsors before. Basically, what I do is to channel my personal funds into this NGO. I currently have five running business outfits – a gift shop, a clothing line, a logistic company, and I am also into agriculture. And my ambition is to have 20 business outfits by the time I clock 30.”
On one major challenge she has faced since the NGO was floated five year ago
She said: “One major challenge I think I have been faced with since I started this project – the Dora Aid Foundation, is the fact that so many people tend not to believe that I can pull through or that I am for real. They all think I am too young, others say it is a hoax.
“They say: ‘you are a young girl, you are a fine girl, and they don’t believe this is for real. When I share my dreams with them, everybody laughs. They say, oh you can’t do it. But at the end of the day, we always pull through.
“May be because I am young, I am fair whatever, so they think I am just doing it for now, but they don’t know that this is a lifetime project.
“This is something that will live after I have left this world. This is something that will be as big as ‘Save the Children.’ This is something that will be as big as Malala Foundation.”
On why she chooses to run an NGO instead of being a showbiz personality
She said: “I think I want to inspire young girls in a different way entirely.I want to show them you can defy the average Nigerian stereotyped life.You don’t have to be a fashion designer; you don’t have to be an actress to help, you must not be wealthy or famous before you help people. You can be young and still help people, you can make a difference in your little way.You can be 18 and start an initiative that will benefit others.”
And looking back, how has the journey being so far?
She said: “So far, so good. It has been five years now since we started this NGO, and on November 1, 2018, we’ll clock six years. Although there have been challenges, but at the same time, there is a vision, there is a plan… we are moving according to that plan. I am 23, I am going to 24 this year, and the journey has only started.”
The country is going through economic difficulties mainly because of the shrinking revenue from the sale of oil in the international market, as well as the hydra-headed monster called corruption. The result is the collapse of many businesses in the country, and the concomitant rise in the rate of unemployment.
At present, many youths – male and female – strut the streets of Lagos, Abuja, and Kano, looking for jobs that are not there in the first place.
And being a woman who has created a relatively comfortable niche for herself in a society awash with unemployed youths, particularly women, what is her advice to young women out there waiting for white collar jobs?
“Interestingly, we have come to the age when some young girls and young women are beginning to understand that they can work for themselves. They can achieve whatever they want to achieve.
“I believe every young girl or woman should follow her dreams and should believe in herself; go for whatever she thinks she wants to be. It may sound cliché, but these are tried and tested formulas that worked and is working for me. There is nothing they cannot achieve in life
“I will advise the women not to allow anyone tell them that ‘you cannot do it’. They should not waste their time because time waits for nobody. They should let everyday of their lives count, and they should get it while they are still young.
“I can go through anything, and still be what I want to be…If Barrack Obama, who was deemed a ‘political nobody’ can become the first black American President, I can also become the president of Nigeria. You can call me over ambitious but watch this space (chuckles).
“On a serious note though, our youths can create jobs for themselves. They can start sowing. There are so many opportunities today especially in agriculture. A basket of tomato in Jos sells for N 5,000 in Abuja but N8,000 in Abuja. Multiply that by 200 baskets, do the math. People can start a snail farm with as low as N250,000 or a poultry farm with N50,000, Bank of Industry grants loans to deserving people, you don’t have to know anybody. Apply yourself, go the extra mile. Do the things people think are abnormal or unachievable. If they can’t do it, it does not mean you can’t. That’s how I see life in all honesty and so, nobody should not wait for somebody to employ them.
“There are no limitations in life. The word Impossible means ‘I ‘m possible,’ if you look at it very well. So, there is nothing you cannot achieve in life. You can also be great. You can go down in history as one of the greatest people that ever lived.”
At 23, not a few would say that the DAF boss is relatively young to involve herself in the business of running a top-notch NGO, as well as successful business outfits.
The question that readily comes to mind is:“What habit did she develop while growing up that helped her become a successful woman she is today?
“It’s not just a habit, asides my early attitude of independence, I really don’t like to rely on people for anything it’s also my heart. Even though I don’t want to blow my trumpet, I think that growing up, I had a good heart, and many say I am a good attitude. You know what they say, a good attitude would take you places. So, my good heart, attitude, and healthy habits over the years have contributed majorly in making me the woman I am becoming today,” she said.
Is she married?
“No, I am not married yet.”
And when does she think of getting married?
“God’s time,” she quickly replied.
Who are her role models?
“I don’t have a role model. To be honest with you, everybody is incomplete. If I tell you that Oprah Winfrey is my role model, I may not be telling you the truth, because there some parts she played that I do not want…,” she said.
A budding entrepreneur, she has three guidelines that her colleagues should observe: “The first and most important thing I will say is that they should not let ‘I do not have money’ stop them for embarking on a venture.
“Secondly, they should not do it because others are doing it, and lastly, they should stay focused.”
If she meets the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha, or is in the same room with her, what would she ask her to tell her husband?
“I will ask her to tell the President that there is a compelling need to increase special interventions for child health, because child health is very important.
“His administration should care for children who have special health challenges, such as cancer, kidney, and liver problems.
“There are so many tragic cases in this country, but unfortunately, we do not have the technology, the doctors to handle these cases.
“It’s like the lives of young Nigerians do not matter. We tend to forget that these children are leaders of tomorrow. They are the light, and our future. So, we need to invest in them because when we invest in them, we invest in ourselves.”
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