Miss. Chinenye Nzom, founder of the Volunteers Hub Africa (formerly Ibadan Volunteers Hub), shares internalised knowledge about the Hub in an interview session with UCJ UI.
UCJ UI: Good day, kindly introduce yourself and what you do.
CHINENYE: I am Chinenye Nzom, a final year student of the University of Ibadan, a professional volunteer, and a mental and emotional health enthusiast.
UCJ UI: For how long have you been into volunteering?
CHINENYE: For about 4years now.
UCJ UI: The Volunteers Hub Africa was founded by you, so basically can you tell us about the organisation and what you do?
CHINENYE: Volunteers Hub Africa, started as Ibadan Volunteers Hub. It started in February 14th 2018; it is barely 10months old now. We are a volunteering organisation. And about what we do, we volunteer, that is, do works that we are not being paid for. Now when I say work, I don’t mean any work. We help out with providing human capacity for non-governmental organisations to carry out their projects, we help out with providing voluntary services such as ushering, protocol and registration services to corporate events and seminars. We do this so that youths can learn selflessness, leadership skills, teamwork and so on.
UCJ UI: So, no financial gains to the activities of the hub?
CHINENYE: No financial gains. We do it for free.
UCJ UI: In running any organisation like the Volunteers hub of yours with more than 200members, there is need for a substantial level of financial strength, how has the hub been funding her activities so effectively?
CHINENYE: Most of our activities are self-funded. We task ourselves. Although we are hoping to apply for grants and funds in 2019, we do the funding basically.We also tell the event organisers and NGO project managers to cater for our transportation, so as not to be too burdensome on our volunteers.
UCJ UI: The hub celebrated her tenth month of existence a week ago, don’t you think it is not a little bit over the edge or like the proverbial saying, counting your eggs before they are hatch. Why not wait for a year anniversary or more?
CHINENYE: I am a very strong believer of celebrating my little milestones, the reason why I incorporated that into the organisation. If you’ve been following us from inception, you’ll see that we have always celebrated per month. Our first celebration was without a party but we celebrated online (LOL). We celebrated the fifth month with a hangout where we brought great people involved in volunteering to come and share with us their own experiences and it was a great time. This tenth month was more like a get-together for our hardworking volunteers, where we had games, food and drinks and it was amazing as well. Ten months doing all these phenomenal things is a great milestone reached for me and our achievement within this time frame is worth celebrating, so why wait for one year?
UCJ UI: Speaking of milestones, four awards won out of seven nominations in the space of ten months of existence is great. How was the hub able to achieve this feat?
CHINENYE: I’m someone who you will describe or see as a goal-getter. Before I started the hub, I already set out for goals to achieve and got myself equipped with some skills that will help me carry people along and make them believe strongly in my vision. Leadership and human management skills, utmostly, did this for me. So, once I see any award nomination, I let it out to the family (that’s how we call ourselves). We didn’t get all the awards and nominations but we got most. Plus I made sure everyone was on their A game. We all did it.
UCJ UI: Where do you see the Volunteers Hub Africa, 10 years from now?
CHINENYE: In 10 years time? I see us as a very strong force, filling every sector with the right set of people- politics, oil and gas, entrepreneurial sector, embassies and international organisations, leading a group of selfless individuals. Simply put, I see an empire of selfless people.
UCJ UI: As the founder of the hub, how have you been able to lead such number of people towards the targeted goals?
CHINENYE: As I said earlier, before I started I ensured I equipped myself with some very important skills which are leadership skills, communication skills, management skills and so many others. Personally, people saw that I wasn’t just talking but I was doing. My life was reflecting all I was telling them to do. So it was easy for them all to believe in the vision. Subsequently after some months, they saw positive changes in their lives and we all got stuck together (LOL). The God factor also has been a major role. He really helped me, sometimes I can’t explain how I handle everything. But God always show up.
UCJ UI: What is the correlation between the actual aim of volunteering and your aim of preventing a singular focus on the girl-child to be well equipped for marriage to the right men like you said recently? If there is any correlation, how does your organisation help to accomplish that?
CHINENYE: In this organisation, we are not just raising volunteers, we are raising wholesome youths, that will be numero uno anywhere they find themselves. Right now as this interview is being conducted, we are having an online goal setting and smashing master-class for all our volunteers. This is to set the pace and also ensure that all volunteers are growing and developing. Just imagine we doing this for ladies only, that wouldn’t be right. We shouldn’t leave our guys out of the development that is happening in our society. I am a lady who loves to see men thrive as much as ladies thrive.
UCJ UI: Yes, volunteering is about rendering free services but are there any financial gains from the activities of the organisation?
CHINENYE: No financial gains. At least, not yet.
UCJ UI: Recently, the organisation got renamed Volunteers Hub Africa from Ibadan Volunteers Hub, what prompted that?
CHINENYE: When we started, it was Ibadan that came to mind, I really love this place, the serenity and all. I stay in Lagos, so you may understand why I love Ibadan. So, the name was fine for me. But as we went on, we had to travel to some states across Nigeria, and the name was a barrier. We will be travelling a lot next year, and we don’t want to be limited by the name. Reason we chose to go Africa, it’s time for Africa.
UCJ UI: How far has the organisation gone in getting members outside Nigeria and as well extending her activities outside the country?
CHINENYE: Right now we have contacts in Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and Zimbabwe. We just have to do some signings and agreements and we are good to go.
UCJ UI: What skills do members stand to gain from the hub?
CHINENYE: Leadership skills, team work skills, goal smashing skills, management skills, communication skills… loads of skills.
UCJ UI: What are the criteria and processes to follow for interested members of the public to join the organisation?
CHINENYE: There is a form to be filled online. When the link is out, it will be publicised. We always say even if you don’t have all the skills, just come! You’ll learn on the job. We are loving people.
UCJ UI: Since it’s a non-profit organisation, what do you do to keep or encourage members?
CHINENYE: I ensure that everyone is treated right and that they are all well attended to, appreciated and celebrated as at when due.
UCJ UI: By what means are they appreciated?
CHINENYE: Words. Going out of my way to ensure they are fine. And other ways they know.
UCJ UI: Your shout out to everyone outside there.
CHINENYE: Shout out to everyone in the VHA family, to everyone that loves us, our patron and matron. We love you and appreciate you. Thanks so much UCJ UI.
UCJ UI: Thanks Miss. Chinenye. Your time is really appreciated.
Afolasade Ola, Adedokun Seyi and Toyinbo Olumide for UCJ UI.