There must be something compelling and urgent in her self-assigned to lift the less privileged from doldrums of deprivation. For one has never tasted of poverty, many cannot explain Olatinpo Adeola-Odutola’s commitment to the poor. One of the granddaughters of the late Ijebu-Ode born billionaire industrialist, Adeola Odutola, she has everything at her back and call.
Rather than let down your hair in consummate enjoyment, she is focused on empowerment and education of women. Interestingly, her platform for reaching out to this group of disadvantaged womenfolk is her Olubusola Akingbehin Memorial Foundation, a non- governmental organisation named after her late mother, Olubusola Ayodele Akingbehin which focuses on three main sectors: Women, education and empowerment.
Over the years, the foundation is reputed to have provided delivery packs for pregnant women in the state general hospital, Otunba Tunwase Hospital and in rural clinics in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State. Reaching out to the vulnerable in her state has earned her accolades from all and sundry. “Pregnancy and child delivery is something I hold dear. I don’t know why but I just do.”
Olatinpo has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the London Metropolitan University. She is also SAP Certified in Human Capital Management.
On the side, she also works with a handful of old women, those whose children are late; and lately with widows. “A lot of them feed themselves and children from hand to mouth through loans. I engage them in menial jobs over the course of the month so they are able to raise the interest they need to pay back on their loans. I try not to encourage free money. Showing help, compassion and support is one thing. Foolishly allowing yourself to be an ATM is quite another.”
For Olatinpo, her benevolence is not restricted to pregnant women alone as the issue of the girl-child education also tops her priority. Explaining efforts being made so far… “Truth be told there’s so much research based widely available solutions to checking the low rate of girl child education. The issue is do we avail ourselves as a state (Ogun State) to this information?. But there are still some common sense approaches we can use.
“Parents must first be made aware of the benefits of education. Not just academic benefits but psychological and emotional benefits of educating their girls. Let me give you an example. One of my tailors has two kids and is a single mother living in one room. When she had the first one and was seriously struggling I asked her why she was active in the first place and why she let herself get pregnant. She said because the ‘gentle boy’ had promised to marry her. I was stunned. Then I asked why not take precaution. She looked at me as I was speaking Efik to a shop attendant in the South of France. She asked me what that was. She then said after she slept with him no one would want to marry her because she wasn’t a virgin so she had to stay with him. I couldn’t believe my ears. I tried to see if she was only making excuses to cover up for her stupidity but the girl was sincerely misguided. I had to ask at what level she stopped going to school. She said Primary Six.
How do you know how to write your client’s measurements? She said she went to ‘night school’. I preached till my mouth was dry because the boy had left when she got pregnant. She said ‘wow’ to a lot of things I said. The following year she was pregnant again for the same boy. How? After years of believing a lie about the way the world works due to lack of education and social mixing, my ‘speech’ fell on deaf ears. Her ‘gentle boy’ she allowed back into her life after leaving her previously; disappeared a month into the second pregnancy and she hasn’t seen him in two years now. This isn’t far-fetched from teen pregnancy except this was a 25 year-old. The education she hadn’t received had formed an impenetrable thick wall. Clearly, education reduces the rate of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, and increases self-confidence and awareness.”
This is just an example of why not educating girls is detrimental as cycles are usually but not always hard to break. The common notion that there isn’t any need for it since she would most likely end up being a home maker is far from accurate. Education makes a better home-maker. Education for their children isn’t discounted and given high priority. Educated home-makers attract wealthier spouses than non-educated home makers and so end up giving their children an even better education than they had.
She believes one of the other things to do to combat the problem of fewer girls in the educational system in her Ogun State is to employ more women as teachers as some mothers have unspoken misgivings about leaving their kids with male teachers. In addition, working with the parents to monitor the changes and development in their kids before and after their enrollment in school is vital. These parents are more than likely to spread the word to neighbors, friends and family.
Another step she noted is to create avenues for financial empowerment for mothers as some of these girls have to hawk or help their parents in one trade or the other to raise money while building schools in remote areas in order to reduce time and money spent going to and from school should be considered.
Working with teachers to create a mentoring programme with the kids they teach according to her is essential in ensuring girls actually finish through secondary school and reduce the dropout rate. Although this creates a Catch-22 situation with having a rotation programme for teachers to move between schools to reduce monotony.
She also suggested that emulating other states who give prizes to their teachers of the year in different categories is another incentive to encourage and motivate as everyone will respond to healthy competition and positive stimuli.
With her on going various activities, is Ijebu-Ode born damsel nursing any political ambition?
Staring into my eyeball as looking for an answer…then she picked her words. “As a daughter of the soil I will always have a relationship with Ogun state. Charity begins at home and my paternal grandfather illustrated that too well. if I must show love it should start at home first. I must admit moving with the grassroots has made me privy to a lot of things. Quite a surprising high number of people have admonished me to get into politics and represent them. If such an opportunity presents itself I believe it will be foolhardy to ignore. Right now, am just giving back to my people.”
For women who have lost hope, she has a piece of advice. I saw this on Instagram today and I find it very apt to my work and my life too. “God is saying to you today, ‘I know you have been struggling for a long time-financially, spiritually and emotionally. You have a good heart and people have abused you in many ways. You have been betrayed in many ways … yet you stand in the midst of your storms. You are still here because I am with you. I will not allow any weapon that is formed against you to prosper. Fear not because I am going to turn things around and bless you in the presence of your enemies. Hold on to your faith”, she concluded.