Matthew 5: 14-17 (King James Version)” Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid…let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

It’s another opportunity to showcase the wonderful things people do to promote the gospel of Christ. Today, we are showcasing a ‘lighted’ group of young individuals, who have received the light and are delighted to spread the light they have received. Helping Other People Excel (H.O.P.E) is an initiative of the Covenant University Alumni Association. It’s a fully registered charity organization set-up to reach out to teenagers between the ages of 13-18 in order to help them excel in life, just like the name of the organization suggests.

1nebody spoke with Mr Aderemi Ademiju, the Deputy Director Operations of H.O.P.E.


1nebody: Can we please get to know you.

H.O.P.E: I am Aderemi Ademiju, the Deputy Director (Operations) for H.O.P.E foundation.

1nebody: It’s great to have you. Could you give us a brief about how the foundation started?

H.O.P.E: Covenant University Alumni Association always had the  idea to float an humanitarian arm. However, the idea laid dormant for a while until two members of the alumni association took the step to get it registered as a charity organization. Though it was inaugurated in October 2011, it started fully in January 2012 with three arms: The school support group, prison support group and support group for the young. However, it was only the school support group that took off. We realized the need to carve our niche and so decided to focus on teenagers between 13-18 years.

1nebody: How have you been able to reach out to these teenagers?

H.O.P.E: Our major program is Catch and Inspire Them Young (C.I.T.Y). It  is primarily a learning and development program which has five areas in its curriculum: Personal Development (we want the teenagers to realize that they have a gift that makes them unique which we want them to discover, develop and deploy). The second is leadership. We teach the teenagers to accept responsibility for the outcome of their lives and erase the mentality that leadership is a title. Third, is National Development Consciousness. We create the consciousness of work that needs to get done in Nigeria. Fourth, Educational Excellence. Here, we make them realize that they can be the best possible in their academics. Last is Entrepreneurship. In as much as we  don’t encourage them to drop out of School, we teach them basic tenets of entrepreneurship: risk taking, planning, creativity, problem solving.

1nebody: Interesting. When does this usually take place?

H.O.P.E:  C.I.T.Y is organized during summer holidays for teenagers and it is free to a large extent. So far, we have been able to float this program in five locations: Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan and Ogun State. Each of these locations is planned to accommodate about 250  teenagers for a 10-day camping period. We engage the teenagers in lots of learning and development programs which are built around the five major areas of the curriculum which I mentioned earlier. We bring in experts within the period, we also create learning and recreational activities. We do a lot of experience-based learning. Also, a major requirement for gaining entry into subsequent camps for  the teenagers is engaging in City Action Project (CAP). We encourage the teenagers to look for  problem(s) within their reach and solve them. Although, young; we are teaching them to accept responsibility at their level. We have a number of them write to radio stations requesting an opportunity to talk about their projects, some create environmental awareness and they send us pictures.1nebody: You mean the teenagers do these already?

H.O.P.E: Yes, they do. To our amazement as well.
1nebody: How long has C.I.T.Y been running?
H.O.P.E: It’s been five years but CAP started in the second or third year of the camp.
1nebody: On what parameters, do you rate the impact of this program on the teenagers?

H.O.P.E: Not all impact can be quantitatively measured. When they come in, they do a test and just before they leave too, they take another test. From the results of these two tests, we are able to measure the impact of the program on their lives. Frankly speaking, there are always changes. We get calls from parents saying how much their children have changed, we get pictures  from the teenagers themselves. Also, in a bid to get to know the teenagers better; we divide them into groups of ten. Each group is then assigned two facilitators or what we call camp buddies. The camp buddies are supposed to know the teenagers on a personal level. They are to answer their questions and get to know them, it is actually encouraging them to build mentor-mentee realtionships.Another thing we do during camp session is ‘Business Keys’; where we give them real issues and ask them to come up with solutions to them. This is a task done in almost every business school all over the world and we are always amazed at the ideas they come up with. Some of them go as far as making video campaigns.

1nebody: This is so amazing. How then do you develop your curriculum?

H.O.P.E: Our Monitoring and Evaluation team does an excellent job on this. They spell out the percentage allocation given to each  activity. Each of the focused areas have a curriculum break down. Each lesson also has a case study, whether local or international. A lot of research goes into the development of the curriculum.

1nebody: That must be some deep research. Now, to the selection of volunteers?

H.O.P.E: Hmmm. There is actually a selection process for this. We have had people apply from about five African countries but we are not at the level where we can accommodate international volunteers just yet. It takes a level of restructuring to do that. A lot of volunteers apply and some don’t make it through the selection process.

1nebody: Why is the selection process that rigorous when they are not getting paid?

H.O.P.E: Seeing the program is about impacting lives, we have to be sure that your life is impactful and this is not limited to members of the Covenant University Alumni Association. Anyone can apply and when you apply, you are applying for a particular role. We have roles like logistics, camp buddy, facilitator, etc,

1nebody: This is really laudable. How about sponsorship?

H.O.P.E:  We are yet to master our funding model but one of the major ways we get money is through donations. We run campaigns asking for donations. Partnership in kind is what gives us our biggest source of funding for now. For example, in two camping sessions, we had a particular bakery supply us with loaves of bread all through the camp. ‘Mimee Noodles’ , ‘Hebron Water’ have also supplied us with materials in our camp sessions. Some other sponsors subsidize their prices for us . We almost don’t need the cash if we can get the kind. We have people make donations as well, the Covenant University Alumni association for example as well as other companies.

1nebody: Great.Are there other programs asides the camp?

H.O.P.E :Yes, a lot more. One of which is C.I.T.Y fellows  targeted at corps members. We leverage on the wide reach of the corps members. All we need you to do is identify an area of need and we train you online after you have applied. We get mentors with similar areas of interest with the corps members and they are ultimately expected to go ahead to impact the teenagers in the community where they find themselves. At a point we were funding projects for these fellows through C.I.T.Y action fund. Some sank boreholes for the communities, some made furniture for their students. A particular lady had her students keep their bags on the floor, she applied for funding to make a bag rack .Apart from these two structured programs, we also visit secondary schools often. We call it C.I.T.Y training which lasts a day or two. Recently, we had the iRespond project as well where we donated items to victims of the  flood in Benue state.


1nebody:  Concerning the corps members you mentioned, must they be graduates of Covenant University?

H.O.P.E: Not at all. Our aim is to attract the best minds irrespective of what School they finished from. We have had muslims as part of our volunteers in the summer camp, we’ve had muslim teenagers come for C.I.T.Y as well. Our doors are actually open to anyone.


1nebody: What are the long term and short term goals of the foundation?

H.O.P.E: We plan to build hubs across the states. We have conducted interviews across board, what’s left is to put figures against our goals for 2020. We have a dream of organizing the biggest summer camp in the world. Vision 2020 will see to our presence in more states of Nigeria and even other countries.

1nebody: Wow! It’s been such a super packed session. It’s so great to know that a group of young people have taken it upon themselves to create positive impact on the younger ones at an early age. God bless and reward you all. Special thanks to you, Mr Aderemi for talking to us.

H.O.P.E: Thank you for having me.