Mrs. Vivian Sonny- Nsirim, Founder and Chief Executive officer of Young Moms Support Foundation\ Young Moms Forum, a social networking platform for mothers and soon to be mothers from all works of life, is no doubt multifaceted. She is not just a wife, mother and a chartered administrator but also an award-winning inspirational speaker, transformation coach and ultimately, a women advocate, who has over the year developed a rising passion for women and their overall well-being. In this interview with Mary Ekah she talks about how her life experiences might have spark off her craving for the happiness of women
What exactly spark off your interest in women?
I have passion to inspire and empower women and children. This passion developed over the years based on my experiences both professional and nonprofessional. The people I come in contact with and the groups I belong to, both abroad and in Nigeria, inspired me to create a forum whereby Nigerian women especially mothers can come together to educate, inspire, motivate and share ideas and experiences from other women outside Nigeria. Young Moms Forum was birthed. It is a social networking platform for mothers and soon to be mothers, with over 170,000 members, cutting across all the 36 states in Nigeria and globally. We started online initially but now we meet physically too. We come together to educate, train, share ideas and share experiences on motherhood and parenting. We also mentor by providing elder mothers who mentor the younger moms. We also provide career guidance and empowerment programmes for women.
As a result of numerous the heart-breaking messages we get so often from members, we decided to create the Young Moms Support Foundation to enable us empower women and children. We do visit orphanage homes; we also have empowering and enlightening programmes for our members. Through which we have trained some women in various states in Nigeria. We have grown in numbers within a year of commencement from 5,000 to over 170,000 members. We are on a global platform, which is the social media where everyone all over the world can reach, so with our online platform; we have reached so many women around the world.
Hence, we are now soliciting for support and partnerships from different companies, government and professional bodies that can assist us so that we can train more women, in acquiring skills in technology, agriculture, baking, sewing and others. We have realised through our interactions from the forum that many women go through domestic violence, abuses, rape, neglect and various other depravities because they don’t have source of livelihood. But if these women get trained, they would be able to get financial sustainability to sustain them and their children, and as such, they would be able to support their husbands. That is what we are trying to achieve though this skills acquisition programme – for every woman to acquire a skill from which she would get money to support her family and raise responsible children for a better society.
Apart from training them on various skills, how else does your forum touch their lives?
We create awareness programmes on various issues affecting women, such as: cancer awareness programmes; we embarked on cancer awareness and fundraising event with other NGOs. We also do free breast cancer screening for our members during which a few women discovered lumps on their breasts and so we have to follow up on them, for treatment. We do create awareness on genotype so that people don’t marry wrongly in that a person with SS genotype does not marry someone with SS genotype nor should AS marry AS. We create awareness on the negative effect of a pregnant woman having Rh-negative blood type. Everyone’s blood is either Rh-positive or Rh-negative—positive means you have a certain protein (called antigens) on the surface of your red blood cells, and negative means you don’t. If you’re Rh-negative and baby’s Rh-positive, then there could be problems. So we educate on the remedies to avoid miscarriages and infertility.
We create awareness on: the benefits of educating a girl-child; Saying no to domestic abuse, child abuse, rape and others.
We have partnered with some NGOs in creating awareness and fundraising; such as; Run for life UK, Project Pink Blue; Child Survival Development Organization of Nigeria; Jesus Girls, to mention but a few. Jesus Girls, another NGO, whose founder is Pastor Sarah Godfrey, mentors women and young girls. These are the kind of NGOs that government should be encouraging by giving them sponsorship because we also need to catch them young. Jesus Girls is also on social media. Jesus Girls focuses more on inner healing. Getting you to see first in your mind, because what you cannot visualise, you cannot conceive. So, Jesus Girls gives you that inner equipping that you need to succeed in life.”
How do you finance the foundation?
I have been financing it through members and my own personal finances. Some of my members donate money while others volunteer to train and mentor other women in their field of specialization. We are now soliciting for support from well-meaning people. We are really looking up to individuals and organisations to come to our aid because when they do, we would be able to reach out to more women who need help.
Do you also deal with domestic violence considering that this is an area that women, often don’t talk about even when they are constantly abused?
My forum is non-judgemental Platform, where women are free to pour out their minds about everything bothering them. We encourage women going through abuses to speak out and seek help for themselves and their spouses.
You are just a year old. Now what is your vision for the foundation in a couple of years to come?
I actually want to build a sort of Young Moms Academy where women can come in for free and learn trades and skills. I want to see a society whereby every woman has a skill, even if she cannot go out to work due to the burdens of motherhood and all that, she can work from home while she takes care of her husband and children so that at the end of the day, we are able to support our husbands.
You have heard so many stories about what women are going through in our society. Can you talk about the most touching of all you have heard?
Honestly, I have heard so many touching stories that I cannot even say which is the most touching. But the most recent that I have heard which touched my heart so much, is a lady who just put to bed and said she wants to give out her child because she cannot afford to cater for the baby and so she planned going to an orphanage to dump the baby. We have started donating for her so that she won’t have to dump the baby but for how long are we going to do that? That is why the foundation comes in handy so that we can train such women in various skills for them to be able to sustain themselves and their children.
Has there been challenges running a forum of this nature?
It is challenging bringing women together because women are wonderful creatures. You have to be patience and tolerance to manage women. Even when we say the forum is non-judgemental, you will still find a few women throwing castigations at others. It is also challenging trying to help those in need because we lack sufficient funds. So when you have a lot of people telling you, my child need to undergo a heart surgery; my family have nothing to eat; I am due for delivery but I have not gotten any stuff for the baby and no money hospital bills, because I left my husband because of domestic violence; my children are not in school because my husband just lost his job and we have no money, you feel very bad and yet there is nothing you can do because you have limited resources. This is why we are seriously looking out for sponsorships and partnerships with companies and various organisations as well as individuals with like minds to assist us so that we can reach out to more women
Can you tell us more about yourself?
I am a wife, mother of three, an entrepreneur and an award-winning transformation coach based on my passion. I won Woman of Praise Award UK, 2016; Finalist Women for Africa Award UK, 2017. Professionally, I am a MBA graduate from Middlesex University, London. I’m a chartered administrator. I have worked as administrator for more than 10 years – both abroad and in Nigeria. I was special assistant to honourable Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Rivers State during the last administration. It was also during my appointment that I had a great urge to impact on women in Nigeria and Africa positively.