For a long time, most advocacy was channeled at the girl child. This caused a tilt in the balance of things as women were being empowered but men were not. At first, it felt like men were all right and didn’t need empowerment. But as time went on, we realized that some of the toxic traits and destructive behaviors like suicide were as a result of the dysfunctional upbringing many men have been exposed to. Hence, the need to reorient them and advocate for them to be wholesome people. Despite the growing need for boy-child advocacy, not many people are involved yet. So, every once in a while, I like to highlight some exceptional people picking up the gauntlet and making a huge difference in the world of boys and men. Today, we’ll be chatting with Noel Ifeanyi Alumona. Noel is an amazing educator passionate about ending gender-based violence.
Grab a glass of juice and enjoy our conversation below:
- Can we meet you, please?
I am Noel Ifeanyi Alumona, born on Nigeria’s Independence Day to Mr. Godwin and Mrs. Felicita Alumona. I am passionate about education and gender equality. I pursued my undergraduate degree at Pontifical Urban University and I am now a graduate student at Vanderbilt University. I founded Boys Champions and Hope for African Children to increase access to education for kids with learning and physical disabilities while ending gender-based violence in Nigeria. As a Catholic and Knight of Columbus, serving others brings me great purpose. I’m grateful for my opportunities and excited for what’s to come.
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 of girls?
That is an interesting question. I wish to let you know that Boys Champions was never started to compete with programs provided to empower girls. No. I rather started Boys Champions because I discovered a problem that I was passionate about and took action to solve them. Boys Champions was founded in 2018 out of my personal experience as a young boy at 9 years old – I am not usually strong enough to share that experience. I was also inspired to work with young men to end violence against women and girls in Nigeria after meeting Barack Obama in Johannesburg as an Obama Foundation Fellow. Boys Champions is a nonprofit organization that partners with the UN Women and Nigeria’s Ministry of Gender and Women Affairs to provide positive mentorship programs to young boys and men on their journey to manhood. Through sports, psychosocial support, and impactful mentorship and leadership programs, we are committed to supporting young men and providing them with the foundation they need to succeed in life. Any other concern that people hold, which you suggested, is certainly not one of our motivations for beginning Boys Champions. We’re excited to lead conversations around men’s involvement in ending gender-based violence in Nigeria and across the world.
3. How has the reception been so far over the years from boys you have impacted?
Our work is very important for any society and our models and interventions having been implemented for about five years now, have proven to be very successful. As a result, our impacts are felt by the communities we serve as well as our beneficiaries. These reasons have endeared us to so many hearts. Our work has received commendations from different quarters. Our efforts have been recognized both nationally and internationally. We recently received a nomination for the G20 Young Global Changers Award in Berlin Germany. We also recently received the United Nations Women HeForShe Ambassador Award. States and Federal governments and different government Ministries in Nigeria are excited to partner with us to ensure that more young men have access to our programs. For me, that is more than a warm reception to our work. The enthusiasm of the boys we work with has continued to grow, with more young men joining us in numbers. We recently opened a new safe space in Nigeria to continue to take more young boys who want to be part of our programs. This and many more are the reason why I think our programs have been received with cheer by the boys we work with as well as the communities we serve.
4. Who are your role models in this field?
My role models are people who stand against violence in any form. Violence in its entirety is never okay and anyone who stands against it, works against it, and rallies others to do, is my role model.
5. What are the thematic areas for the programs you organize?
We are focused on developing healthy masculinity, creating gender equality, and raising young peacebuilders.
6. Have you attended other programs before on this before you launched yours? If yes, which programs?
Launching Boys Champions was born out of my personal experiences so I never had any preparation and experience in this field. As a young leader creating a cutting-edge solution to a social problem, it was important for me to be able to expand and improve my knowledge in the field that I chose to be able to successfully develop and implement projects geared towards solving the problems. This has led me to do so many extensive studies focused specifically on the core themes of our work and I can tell you that it has helped a lot.
7. What do you hope to achieve with this program?
Our ultimate goal is to accelerate progress toward SDG number 5, Gender Equality. We believe that every woman and girl deserves to feel safe and empowered, and we’re committed to working towards a world where that becomes a reality. Our mission is to raise men with healthy masculinity.
8. What is your advice to other men who also want to venture into boy child advocacy but do not know how to?
Go for it! We need more voices amplifying this message. There are boys everywhere and we at Boys Champions can’t reach everyone. It will be amazing to have platforms supporting boys and men in every community. That will be a great progress. These boys need positive mentors and other successful men who will take their hands on their journey to manhood. Again, you must not begin a nonprofit to do this. It could be a pet project or just reaching out to a young boy you know around you that needs to be attended to or working with other existing platforms to advance the mission. But just get involved.
9. What is your call to action sentence so that more men will start doing things for boys?
My call is simple. We as men need to stand up to empower the next generation of boys by getting involved. It is our duty to create a safe space for all, not for anyone in particular, but for ourselves, our sisters, and our women.
10. Where do you see boy child advocacy in the next 5 years?
I like to think that we have made tremendous progress but I see a surge and rise in the resources available for young boys and men to be the best of themselves, and secure a life of dignity for themselves and that of their families.
I believe it has been an enlightening chat with Noel Ifeanyi Alumona, the founder of Boys Champions and Hope for African Children. The key takeaway from his experience and advice is that we need to get involved in boy-child empowerment. He’s calling us to start from where we are and reach boys around the world. Will you take action today?
To learn more about Boys Champions and Hope for African Children, support their mission, or contact Noel, you can reach out on any of the following handles:
Personal Website: http://www.noelalumona.com/
Twitter : https://twitter.com/NoelAlumona
Linkedin : https://www.linkedin.com/in/noel-ifeanyi-alumona-ba8ab5129