It is International Men’s Day today and to celebrate, I would love to feature one amazing man who is doing great things in this part of the world. His name is Allen Abu, the lead Volunteer at the One Boy Project. He is also a brand and communication manager, an entrepreneur, and a 2022, Carrington fellow. He is passionate about grooming the boy child and equipping them to live their best life – in a world that seems to think they are fine on their own.
Here is what he has been up to and how much he has been able to achieve in a short time:
1. Can we meet you, please?
Response: My name is Allen Abu and but fondly called Allen Zito. I am the lead volunteer at The One Boy Project, an initiative that advocates for the boy child. I am a Brand and Communication manager, a social entrepreneur, and a 2022 Carrington Fellow. I am passionate about advocacy and human rights. I believe the world was designed for humans and the onion is on us to make it a better place. My mantra is ‘Live and let others live’.
2. What drove you to launch a boy child advocacy organization in a world where males rarely organize programs for boys or men, but we hear concerns that women do a lot for girls?
Response: Anytime I get asked this question, I am always surprised because the question is why are so many people not doing it? It is important to understand that both males and females represent the term ‘Gender’. If one of the divides is getting equipped and nurtured, then the other must get the same too. On why I started the one-boy project, it is to create a balance in the society, I saw the challenges and dangers of a one-sided empowerment project and the imbalance it has caused unconsciously. A girl child is trained and prepared for life while the boy child is left to wander through life, yet we significantly want to raise responsible daughters for not-so-responsible boys. That mindset alone got me worried and thinking about what next to do to help the situation, hence the launch of the one-boy project.
3. How has the reception been so far over the years from boys you have impacted?
Response: I started informally just reaching out to my fellow guys and friends who have a not-too-balanced upbringing. I could see the effect on them and I offered to be of help. I had countless counseling sessions both online and offline for the last 10 years. I started majorly on Facebook groups and the reception was massive. I took a break and decided to reach younger boys in schools. Now, this set of young boys, they don’t have where to go or whom to talk to so I had to go to them by volunteering in a community during my free periods at work. The reception has been great but getting the boys to trust you and talk is a major challenge because the wrong mindset of not speaking is very evident when I communicate with them.
4. Who are your role models in this field?
Response: I wouldn’t say I particularly have a role model but I admire the works of everyone working tirelessly to create a better world for the girl child and boy child. It is a progressive work and I wish them more strength and tenacity.
5. What are the thematic areas for the programs you organize?
Response: Our major area is sexual, domestic, and drug abuse amongst the boy child. Educating and empowering the boy child to live a healthy and balanced life by understanding the dangers of this aforementioned menace.
6. Have you attended other programs before on this before you launched yours? If yes, which programs?
Response: I didn’t attend any before starting but I have been involved in the development space and as a 2022 Carrington Fellow of the United States Consulate, Lagos, I have studied projects on gender-based violence and gathered knowledge to launch out. After launching out, I attended a workshop by ARDA development communication on counseling for gender-based violence victims and it has been helpful so far.
7. What do you hope to achieve with this program?
Response: The society will be a better place the day we can understand that we are made for each other and that creating equal opportunities for all doesn’t mean excluding a particular gender and overseeing another genderless I hope to leave every boy child better and make the world safer for the girl child.
8. What is your advice to other men who also want to venture into boychild advocacy but do not know how to?
Response: I would love to state here that not everyone will launch an NGO, but everyone can impact a life. I will strongly suggest you look around you and help the boys who look up to you. You were once their age, and you can understand what their struggles are even if they don’t speak up. Talk to them regardless and help them live better and become responsible adults in the nearest future.
9. What is your call-to-action sentence so that more men will start doing things for boys?
Response: Our call-to-action statement at the one-boy project is #HelpaBoyChild. Help a boy child today to be a responsible man.
10. Where do you see boy-child advocacy in the next 5 years?
Response: The narrative around the boy child advocacy is changing and our message is getting louder by the day. I am impressed by the work I see some women do for the boy child, especially Halima Layeni. I believe strongly that if we keep at it, sooner than later, we will have a joint message and force to lead a reliable gender balance in the world.
This is such an inspiring conversation and I believe it has spurred you on to reasons why should be a part of this. In a time where many people complain that boys are being left out, it is such a breath of fresh air to see men pick up the gauntlets and show boys the way. Special thanks Allen for sharing his story with us and showing us that we all have a part to play.
To catch up with Allen or be a part of the One boy project, reach out to him via his social handles below: