Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Nation Newspaper writes story about RSN Founder!




Tosin Taiwo has passion for the less-privileged. This passion once turned her into a beggar and earned her several awards. To live her passion, Taiwo, a Fellow of the Carrington Youth Fellowship, established the Resource Sharing Network (RSN) Foundation, which is touching the lives of youths. Evelyn Osagie, Udemma Chukwuma and Ogechi Njirika report.


The 2012 Fellow of the Carrington Youth Fellowship, Tosin Taiwo, 32, was once passionate about software programming. She had since quit her job for humanitarian causes. Today, she specialises in inspiring and putting smiles of the faces of young Nigerians. And she does it through her foundation, Resource Sharing Network (RSN).

It all began when she went for the national youth service. After working with a software company, her experience during the service year changed her worldview. “Service brought me much closer to the needy. I was particularly moved by the plights of the Persons with Disabilities (PWDs). I saw how twisted life was and that had a great impact on me.”

Taiwo is not one to sit around merely prodding over a problem. She made up her mind then to do something. That action eventually earned her an award as the overall best Corps member in Kogi State in 2006/2007. “Eventually I came up with a project to assist the less privileged, especially the PWDs. I did a fundraising to buy mobility aid to the physically-challenged in the community.”

How did she do it? Hear her: “As a corps member I had no money because the salary (alawi) wasn’t even enough to spend. Nonetheless, I got money by moving from one place to the other, ‘begging’. I used the word ‘begging’ because of this pamphlet I made with space for the name of sponsors, their contact and amount donated. I used to take it everywhere I go along with pictures of PWDs to show well-wishers at filling stations, etc, what the money would be used for. Eventually, I was able to raise over N100,000 and got mobility aid appliances, such as wheelchair, for the kids and bought educational items for pupils in public schools at Lokoja. This fetched me an award as the overall best Corps member in 2006/2007 in the state.”
After her service, the passion got her into Idea Builders’ the Women Mentoring Women programme that gave birth to the establishment of RSN. “I have always had the passion to serve and assist even before I went for service. After service, I went back to my software company and got connected to Idea Builders and enrolled in their Women Mentoring Women programme. That was where I was empowered enough to start my own non-governmental organisation. I was paired with a mentor, Dr. Titi Akinlade. I told her my dream and passion for young people; she gave me advice on what to do. four to five months after the programme, I quit my job to concentrate on encouraging and building the enthusiasms of youths on education. And RSN was born in 2009.”

For three years, Taiwo has dedicated her time to inspiring youths. Her foundation seeks to encourage less-privileged young people to embrace education. Working with them has been rewarding, she said. This has turned her into an advocate of the biblical maxim: “Be our brother’s keeper”.

“You don’t need to have millions before you can help. The little you have that you don’t use, you could pass it on and would make a whole lot of difference in someone’s life. As an organisation, ours is to bring those resources together and make the world a better place which has been fulfilling. Young people need all of the help they could get to stay strong, focus and excel. They need you to give the gift of your support and mentorship. Although the money may not be there, the reward and the fulfillment one gets from helping people is priceless. Really, it’s been wonderful working with young people.”

She decried the state of the educational system and level of unemployment, noting that it is discouraging to parents. “Some parents have lost enthusiasm to send their kids to good schools because of our present deteriorating educational status and high rate of unemployment of youths, especially graduates. We have had cases where we met with parents to orientate them that education pays and is worth investing on. Some day soon, things shall work well in this nation,” she said.

Through its youth empowerment initiative and bag swap project, last month RSN gave educational materials to over 400 primary school pupils across Lagos State, such as bags, exercise books, sandals, etc. Methodist Primary School, Igbogila; St. Andrews Primary School, Ipaja; African Church Primary School, Ikola; The Rock Primary School and Praise International School. According to her, RSN operates a three-fold programme: mentorship, scholarship and youth empowerment scheme.
She said: “The foundation is a dream come true. There are many problems in the world. Although we are a growing organisation, our basic target is those that want to go to school without the means. We are motivated to do what we do because of the voiceless, young people out there on the street, from disadvantaged homes who crave to go back to school, but do not have the means. We want to build their enthusiasm towards education, regardless of their present hurdles and the difficulties faced by their parents. Thus far, we have assisted about 60 students to register for GCE, WAEC, NECO, JAMB, SAT examinations. In 2010, we bought GCE forms for 21 pupils. In 2011, we bought for nine pupils and registered one for WASSCE. Last month we have donated educational materials, such as school bags, sandals, notebooks etc to more than 600 pupils in public primary schools and school for kids with hearing challenge courtesy United Parcel Service (UPS). At present, we sponsored the primary and secondary education programmes of five disadvantaged kids in Alimosho area, Lagos State.”

“In the mentorship programme, we pair up young people in secondary school with young professionals who will guard mentor and be there for them as big brothers or sisters. It is our responsibility to see them from one class to the other. The scholarship programme is actually where we are seeking sponsors. Through it, we sponsor kids in need of financial assistance, get them back to school, buy their uniforms, and pay their school fees. Through individual sponsorship, three pupils now enjoy full scholarship from post-secondary to tertiary.
“Through RSN empowerment scheme, we are reaching out to those who are out of school and in the streets. One of the beneficiaries is an 11-year-old boy who has never been to school before. We had to put him in kindergarten. He is coping in spite of his age. Our next phase of programme is an empowerment programme for out-of-school pupils. We have some on our waiting list. There is one who is deaf and dumb but learnt shoemaking but has no money to get the necessary equipment. Thanks to UPS, part of their sponsorship has covered that.”

Her work, she said, has influenced her life positively as a mother of two. “Philanthropy is something I do out of passion, not that somebody is paying me. I have been doing it over time even while I was working. But it has helped me schedule myself and time appropriately to the two parties – the family and work. My work doesn’t demand that I resume every 8am to 6pm so there is enough time for me to take care of my family.”

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