Sometimes you have to fight for what you want!

Sometimes you have to fight for what you want!

In 2017, when I started KLCI, and needed to build some regional expertise and make some important connections that will foster my personal and professional development. I began to apply for a couple of international programs and I got rejected for every one of those programs. I only got accepted into the African Youth SDGs Summit in Accra Ghana and I got a partial scholarship of $100 to attend. I was working at the Factory at the time and running the NGO on the side. Through support from family and money saved from the Factory work, I paid for the summit.

Traveling to the summit became a challenge and the only option I had was to travel by road. I was able to use a month's salary at the Factory (20,000 Naira about $50 as of then) to book the travel. I had money to go but I do not have a return ticket. I went anyways! Spent over 12 hours on road and upon reaching the summit, I had nothing on me. I couldn't even order any food upon reaching the hotel and for three nights, I slept without having dinner. Every time at the summit, I showed up at every panel session and side event I attended. Volunteered to participate in debates and many much more. I was able to meet Oyindamola Aramide, who works with the Nigerian Network of NGOs and led me to being selected as an SDGs Youth Champion with African Monitor and got my first fully funded trip to Johannesburg, South Africa to learn about the SDGs, social research and key development issues.

Well, you may want to ask how did I return to Nigeria. Reality set in a night before my departure. I had to start calling everyone that I know and one of my aunties came through for me. I am always grateful to her. I booked my bus but missed it on departure day. I had no money on me. Would I stay in another man's country for a whole day without anything? So there was an empty bus traveling to Lagos and it was as if we were smuggled into the bus and had to trek distances in between borders. At 1:00 am midnight we were crossing the Owode border and trekking distance through the Badagry bridge. At that point, I said what if we were thrown into the river?

I got home safely and I shared photos here on Social Media but no one knew what happened behind the scene but that one trip changed my whole life. I had access to training, people that catalyzed my growth in the space. When I look back, I am always grateful for the African Youth SDGs Summit team for taking a chance on me. And the following year, I returned as a speaker and panelist and I shared my work.
There were lessons the trip taught me;

1. I don't have to wait for a fully-funded program to develop professionally. Sometimes, we have to sacrifice to get the fully-funded programme. If it means to pay for a program to learn and build networks. I have shared these experiences in interviews that have gotten me fully funded opportunities.

2. So many people see the obstacle but I was looking at the summit (I.e., the top of the hill). I was looking at what the summit will bring, the connections, and the opportunities. I didn't allow the lack of not being able to afford air tickets or to get a return road trip ticket to deny me from getting what I want. I went anyway knowing that I will survive it and tell the story.

3. Sometimes it's good to pay attention to your journey. Going for what I want orchestrated the connections with Oyin and I was able to get the fully funded trip. I got the opportunity because I was also prepared. I didn't got to the summit to just watch. I contributed. If you fail not to talk about your work, no one will recognize you. Oyin recognized me because I spoke about my work.

4. You have to focus on your focus. I met people who actually their university or organization sponsored their trip to the summit. They could buy anything they want to. They could have dinner or whatever. They had access to per diem and I had access to nothing but I didn't care about that. I just focused on why I was there and was realistic with myself. I said, Hammed, it's fine not to have a sponsor. It's okay to be hungry for just a couple of nights. It's for the bigger picture. Focus on your why and the bigger picture.

Whenever you are down to comparing yourself with others, remind yourself of your why. It will allow you to remain focused.

I know there are many other lessons but I shared them in my new book 5 years: 10 Lessons Life Taught Me

Why am I sharing this? Sometimes no one will be your salvation, you have to be your salvation. You have to fight for what you want.

Fun fact: A friend Mrs. Omobolanle Whoopy Yun Adedeji, we were on the trip together and until today, we are always joking about how we trekked from Ghana to Nigeria (we didn't trek to Nigeria but we walked distance and I felt it).


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