An MBE for Victoria Nne Rodney

0

On 29 December 2018, Victoria Nne Rodney, a British Citizen of Nigerian origin was found worthy of an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire), the most prestigious of all national Awards in the world. “… Victoria rose to the top of her world and embraced destiny for the positive recognition of achievement in her life’s mission.”

The Gazette, which is the official UK Government Public Record states: “Order of the British Empire

Civil Division, Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, St. James’s Palace, London SW1: THE QUEEN has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following promotions in, and appointments to, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire: M.B.E. To be Ordinary Members of the Civil Division of the said Most Excellent Order: Victoria Nne Rodney. Community Champion, Mercy Foundation

Battersea is a district of South West London, England, within the London Borough of Wandsworth. It is located on the south bank of the River Thames.” The London Borough of Wandsworth is a United Kingdom Parliament Constituency inhabited largely by the middle-class. Neither Battersea nor the United Kingdom is Victoria’s birthplace, and she is not resident within the Borough of Wandsworth; Victoria has her residence within the London Borough of Ealing, bordering the London Borough of Brent. However, Battersea is where destiny decides Victoria Nne Rodney would shine.

Many people think that their contribution to society should be limited to their own locality even within their areas of expertise, Victoria thought and proved otherwise. She is not just the stereotypical ‘comfort zone’ person but also an out-of-the-box thinker who determines to break barriers and forage in places where others would not. She determines not to be limited by ability and circumstances of race and gender, even of stereotypical academic qualifications or competence, but to excel in the context of the extraordinary above these limitations.

The Christian Holy Book, the Bible, states in Proverbs 22:29 (NIV):

“Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.”

The diligence in the hands of Victoria has fulfilled this prophecy in her life.

Victoria is not an academic juggernaut nor is she a ‘Hercules’ and she was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth but has nonetheless managed to become a persona grata. Her endowment with an abundance of passion, determination and energy surmounts the average.

She is the classical selfless enigma; a well organised and coordinated individual. Rather than live the rest of her life regretting what life’s opportunities’ distribution denied her, she determined to commandeer the same elusive opportunities for distribution to others so that in the final balancing of her life’s Audit Book she would be fulfilled. Victoria inputs everything she has to achieve her goals and worked relentlessly until she became recognised, in the Courts of Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain, as a ‘Community Champion’!

How did Victoria achieve?

To be a Community Champion is no mean feat and being recognised as one by Her Majesty the Queen of England is an ultimate achievement. The road, for Victoria, was not easy but Victoria was determined. Despite the myriads of problems and difficulties some of which even threatened her personal existence, Victoria plodded on, holding fast to the old age dictum, that, “quitters never win and winners never quit!”

The paradox in Victoria’s achievement is that she excelled in an area that none would have thought possible considering her personal circumstances. She excelled as a digital champion. A digital champion only exists in the world of the technology geeks. The world of IT and technology is a new world formed outside of Victoria’s generation. Victoria did not belong to the ‘inner circle of geeks’ but can now be classified as a ‘matron of geeks’.

According to the digitalinclusion.blog.gov.uk,

“Digital skills are vital for both individuals and the economy. Digital inclusion is about having the right access, skills, motivation and trust to confidently go online.”

Khadejah Al Harbi, a blogger of the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, on 12 January 2014 wrote about Victoria Rodney and her Mercy Foundation Centre:

“The Digital Inclusion team recently visited the Mercy Foundation, a brilliant social charity organisation in Battersea. This was our first ever visit to a community centre where we met some incredible people and learnt more about the great digital inclusion work happening in their community.”

The best testament to Victoria’s achievement is seen on http://wwwtinderfoundation.org/, where it is stated: “… Victoria Rodney came from a humble background, and promised herself that her children would have more than she did – particularly in terms of their education. She made Friday night homework night at her house and made sure she was supporting their schoolwork. Soon both teachers and her children’s friends were noticing the difference and friends started coming home on a Friday night to get Victoria’s help too. As a result of Victoria’s commitment to her children’s education, they all graduated from university and are now working in professional positions.

With support from the school, some old textbooks and Victoria’s home computer, homework night became homework club. Soon the parents wanted to

see what was going on as well, because many didn’t have English as a first language and didn’t know anything about IT.

The Mercy Foundation Centre (MFC) began to take shape, and Victoria’s house was no longer big enough to house everyone who wanted to learn.

In response, Victoria re-mortgaged her house after working with Richmond Council for many years, and moved Mercy Foundation Centre to a building on the Kambala Estate near Clapham Junction. She spent the money on refurbishment and more computers, and in 2010 MFC became a UK online centre supported by The Tinder Foundation, now called ‘Good Things Foundation’.

 Four years on and there are now six graduate volunteers helping Victoria, and a second centre in Twickenham. All 18 former volunteers who have worked with MFC have secured employment. MFC has found that equipping people with basic computer skills is liberating and empowering. It enables job seekers to search for jobs on-line. It opens up access to the wealth of information, knowledge and training available online to all users, particularly the less well educated, socially disadvantaged, and hard to reach individuals.”

Victoria’s Background

Victoria Rodney MBE hails from the Ubakala clan in Nsukwe, an autonomous community in Umuahia South in Abia State. “Abia is a state in the southeastern part of Nigeria. The capital is Umuahia and the major commercial city is Aba, which was formerly a British colonial government outpost in the region. It is also one of the most populated areas in Nigeria.

Abia state was created in 1991 from part of Imo State. It is one of the constituent states of the Niger Deltaregion.It’s also the 5th most industrialized state in the country, and has the 4th highest index of human development in the country, with numerous economic activities and fast-growing populations as recorded by the United Nations early2018.”(Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia). Victoria was honoured with the Chieftaincy title, “Ugo Nwanyi 1 of Nsukwe” by HRH Eze Samuel Anyanwoko, Isiala of Ubakala Nsukwe Autonomous Community Ubakala Umuahia.

Victoria is blessed with five children who are all grown up and are all successful professionals. She also has, as at press time,seven grandchildren.

Victoria migrated to the UK over 38 years ago and worked with Richmond Council for 14 years until she retired early, after which, in 2008, she established Mercy Foundation Centre as an educational charity to help the underprivileged in information technology and other basic starter courses.

She speaks fluent Igbo and Yoruba languages, and understands basic Hausa, in addition to the English language in full professional proficiency.

Mercy Foundation

Victoria established Mercy Foundation Centre so she could help provide community support, engagement and outreach services to the disadvantaged community in Battersea. She helps the community to get online. “The centre provides a number of different services and activities, including skills training, homework club for children, language classes, advice and support.”

Mercy Foundation Centre was established for the betterment of the local community in Battersea, London. Victoria recruited volunteers, for both long and short terms, to ensure the cost-effective running of the centre. She created and negotiated meaningful and long-lasting links with other NGOs and service providers to cater to the local community and NEETs.

Victoria managed and funded the centre for a long time after its birth, along with the help of some amazing volunteers, from her own resources and funds. However, as time progressed and people and the Government recognised her efforts, they started assisting her with funds to ensure that she can continue the mission. She later collaborated with the UK online (Learn my way) and Westminster Kingsway College.

Victoria’s Mercy Foundation Centre is also accredited by the NCFE, “a national Awarding Organisation, passionate about designing, developing and certificating diverse, nationally recognised qualifications and awards. These qualifications contribute to the success of millions of learners at all levels, bringing them closer to fulfilling their personal goals …”

“Learn My Way is the online learning website provided by Good Things Foundation for Online Centres Network learners, and it’s designed to make getting online easy. It’s perfect for those without basic online skills, or for those looking to improve their existing digital knowledge. The website comprises a series of free online courses, guides, and activities, tailored to the individual user based on their needs and abilities.”

“Westminster Kingsway College is one of London’s top Further Education colleges with centres in Camden and Westminster offering academic and vocational courses at all levels. Qualifications available include vocational BTECs, A-Levels, Apprenticeships, Foundation Degrees, Access to Higher Education diplomas, Higher Education, CIPD courses, Short Courses and bespoke training for employers. … also have courses that can help you learn English and a range of courses for students with SEN requirements.”

Mercy Foundation Centre Aims & Activities

Mercy Foundation Centre provides a robust package of employability services to assist customers on their journey into employment, training and education. Improving literacy and IT skills and online courses, outreach services via counselling, job search workshop, homework club and reading classes for the youths, jobseekers, lone parents, BAME (Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic) and NEET’s (Not In Employment, Education or Training); tackling community issues, promoting family unity and harmony.

The Charity provides Education/training; the prevention or relief of poverty; overseas aid/famine relief; Arts/culture/heritage/science; Amateur sport; Economic/community development/employment. The charity helps Children/young people, Elderly/old people, People with disabilities, People of a particular ethnic or racial origin and the general public/mankind; and works by providing human resources, buildings/ facilities/open space and services; advocacy/advice/information, and other charitable activities.

Mercy Foundation Centre prides her mission as to bring the community together in an informal learning environment, tailored to the needs of adult learners and the local youth and encourage people to give back to their communities. They provide community engagement through utilizing work-based learning, skills and training, social inclusion, job brokerage and outreach services to support disadvantaged communities. Their aim is to assist anyone they come into contact with by providing advice and support, training, employment skills development and work-related activities.

Honours and Awards

Victoria Nne Rodney’s first recognition award came from the Talk Talk Telecom Group Plc, a company which provides pay television, telecommunications, Internet access, and mobile network services to businesses and consumers in the United Kingdom. She received the special award of “Digital Champion” in 2013 from the company.

This was followed by recognition from the Westminster Kingsway College. She was awarded

their “Community Champion Award” in 2015, in recognition of her services in training deprived people in the community. She was also recognised and honoured by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. David Cameron, in November 2015. This was conveyed in a “Thank you letter from the Prime Minister”.

On 18 May 2015, Victoria was also presented with a College special award for her work as a community champion. Three years later, on 29 December 2018, Victoria Nne Rodney was recognised by Her Majesty, the Queen, and awarded an MBE.

Victoria’s honours and award lists includes 2013: TalkTalk Digital Community Champion-special recommendation award; 2013: TalkTalk Special Commendation Digital Hero Award, Digital Community Champion-special recommendation award. Received at the British Parliament House of Commons for her work supporting the community with digital inclusion;  February 2013: Roll of Honour from the Mayor of Wandsworth, Adrian Knowles, for the great work she does for the community of Wandsworth with Mercy Foundation Centre. (The Roll of Honour is awarded to people who have volunteered their time to help others

and have been awarded a special Wandsworth pin by the mayor.)

April 2015: Westminster Kingsway College: Community Champion: Victoria Rodney was awarded with a Westminster Kingsway College special award for her work as a Community Champion, during an NCFE Level 2 Preparing to Work in Adult Social Care presentation ceremony;  April 30, 2015 – Victoria Rodney, Director of The Mercy Foundation Centre was also presented with a College special award for her work as a Community Champion; Roll of Honour 2013 – Mayor’s Roll of Honour | Wandsworth Council Victoria’s ‘Roots’ Connection.

The Adamawa Project

Long before Victoria established the Mercy Foundation in the UK, she has always explored her roots. Victoria always held that the task of alleviating poverty in the ‘third world’, Africa in particular, should not only be left with multinational charities.

She believes that ‘little drops of water make an ocean’. It is her argument that the little efforts of each well-meaning individual, or a concert of efforts from indigenous well-to-dos, and even of local Non-Governmental Organisation and civil societies would go further at addressing the inequalities and prevailing poverty in Africa, especially in Nigeria where she grew up. Victoria knows that inequality and poverty is endemic in Nigeria, her country of origin, and she is determined to do something about this.

Victoria recognises the ‘demonic’ barriers and obstacles constructed on the path of Nigeria and Africa’s development and progress by negative international and local entities. She is aware, particularly in Nigeria, the deliberate and the sub-conscious institutional ‘mass-murder’ of brilliant minds, innovations and entrepreneurship; she deplores the gloom that consumes the youth of the Continent of Africa through lack of opportunities and strategic infrastructure. She is determined to confront in her own little way some of this malaise and knows that it would be a daunting exercise. Victoria cherishes challenges.

The first step to breaking barriers…In November 2008, Victoria left her comfort zone in the United Kingdom to go back to her roots, to contribute something. Under the auspices of a ‘one-person-driven-religious charity’ called ‘Surely Ministry’, Victoria assembled her entourage for a ‘voyage to Nigeria’.

The most convenient destination for Victoria would have been within her ‘Ibo’ indigenous autonomous community area in Ubakala Umuahia but Victoria decided otherwise. ‘This would have been too easy, too convenient and too pretentious,’ Victoria concluded.

Victoria believes in Nigeria as an entity and desires to make a positive statement. Being born a Christian from the South Eastern geopolitical zone, and having spent a chunk of her early life in the ‘Yoruba’ Western belt, Victoria decided that the best place to explore should be the ‘Hausa’ Northern belt with a predominantly Muslim population and with a language she did not speak. Victoria discovered Adamawa!

“Adamawa is a state in northeastern Nigeria, with its capital at Yola. In 1991, when Taraba State was carved out from Gongola State, the geographical entity Gongola State was renamed Adamawa State, with four administrative divisions: Adamawa, Michika, Ganye, Mubi and Numan. It is the home of the American University of Nigeria in Yola and Modibbo Adama University of Technology Yola.

It is one of the thirty-six states that constitute the Federal Republic of Nigeria. … On May 14, 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Adamawa State, along with neighboringBorno State and Yobe State, due to the activities of Boko Haram.” (Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia) This was the chosen destination for Victoria, which shows her indomitable character.

The 2008 Adamawa exploration was not easy but Victoria managed to get the attention of His Royal Highness, the late Lamido (HRH Dr Aliyu Mustapha) who welcomed her in his palace and called her his daughter. She also had the warm hospitality of the then Executive Governor, HE Dr Murtala H. Nyako GCON, represented by his deputy, Rt. Hon. Barr. Bala J. Nggilari.

Then, Victoria learnt another lesson: that the Hausa and Fulani people are warm and welcoming people. These warm welcome accorded to Victoria encouraged her to establish two projects in Yola: two sanitary conveniences within an existing health clinic called Toungo Clinic near the Yola Central Market and a Borehole Project located at Magaji What, Yola Ward, on Abuja Road, in front of Mogaji House. These were commissioned on 24 September 2009.

Even until now, Victoria continues to service and maintain these facilities at her own expense. Victoria also went to the Modire community and provided bags of rice, gallons of cooking oil and bales of clothes for the needy in the area. Victoria was later bestowed a Chieftaincy Title by the traditional ruler. Victoria plans to do more projects in Nigeria and other places in Africa, and desires to bring with her other honourable and big-spending international personalities, charity funds and corporate financiers, to challenge the local ones, for projects for good causes for the betterment of the lives of the local populations.

The Forward Nigeria Project 

Victoria Nne Rodney has always ‘beaten the drums for Nigeria’ even in the United Kingdom where she lives. Her house and residence in Park Royal, London, is painted in Nigerian Green and White national flag colours. Her home is the hub for the ‘Nigerian Elders’ Community Forum’ and many Nigerian social activities coalesce around her. She is the undocumented Nigerian diplomat in the United Kingdom.

On 18 September 2010, Victoria organised the ‘Forward Nigeria’ event at the prestigious Royal National Hotel in London. This attracted the cream de la cream of the Nigerian society in the UK and other VIP guests from other African communities including many Ambassadors/ High Commissioners of African countries to the UK.

Victoria took the trouble to organise the ‘Forward Nigeria’ event in 2010 to display the positives about Nigerian people in the Diaspora and celebrate their achievements. It was to reveal their presence and solicit their commitment and contributions to the task of participation in the development of Nigeria. Many great achievers of Nigerian origin who are based in the United Kingdom and from overseas attended the event.

The Nigerian Ambassador to the UK and his entourage were also present. The event provided a unique opportunity for the country to identify, meet with, and engage the array of talented Nigerians who are resident in the Diaspora who can contribute, if needed, to the development of Nigeria in various ways. Many of the attendees of this event have subsequently gone back to Nigeria to establish big businesses and corporations and others are now participating in the body politics and government of Nigeria, providing the exquisite knowledge they have acquired in the Diaspora for the positive progress of the country.

Victoria plans to do more of these events and looks forward to collaborating with other like-minded people and organisations, even of the Nigerian Government, to achieve her laudable objective of reversing the brain drain that afflicts Nigeria, and to provide a bridge between the country and its nationals in the United Kingdom.

Victoria now plans to open liaison offices in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria and Lagos, the business capital, and other major cities in Nigeria. She is also currently drawing up plans for a number of projects for the benefit of Nigerian society to be implemented in various parts of Nigeria. Victoria hopes to achieve this through her unique connections in the United Kingdom and Nigeria and hopes to work with a host of other multinational companies and organisations that have supported her projects in the UK.

She welcomes the participation and cooperation of other well-meaning Nigerians, the government at various levels, and corporate organisations in the exercise of their corporate social responsibility missions.

Victoria Nne Rodney is eternally grateful to the entire members of Staff of Mercy Foundation Centre, UK, all supporters and volunteers and other people that have contributed to, and still contributing to, her charity project, Mercy Foundation Centre.

Mercy Foundation Centre is a Charity Company incorporated on 7 August 2008 with the registered office located in London, Greater London, with Victoria as the Chairperson. Their flagship head-centre is located at 64 Falcon Road, Battersea, London SW11 2LR, on the ground floor of a posh suburban apartment block, where Victoria works tirelessly, on-site, every day, along with a number of staff members and volunteers. They continuously engage the services of other professionals, pro bono. Their email address is info@mfcentre. org and they can be contacted on telephone 020 7228 0025. The Charity Theme is “catch them young”.

  • Details provided by Mercy Foundation Centre