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An Interview with Fatima Kyari Mohammed

By Abdulhamad Al-Gazali

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Fatima Kyari Mohammed, is a daughter of Borno. She is the founder of The LikeMinds Project. The multi-lingual Ms. Fatima is an international resource person as she has spent most part of her career in regional and international peace, conflict prevention and security. She has worked in different international and regional organisations across Africa and beyond.

 

Ms. Fatima is trained in Peace, Security, Development and Conflict (M.A) in the University of Innsbruck, Australia; Sustainable Economic Development (M.A), UN University of Cost Rica and Business Communication, MBA, European University, Switzerland. She holds a B.A Environmental Design, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

In 2014, The LikeMinds Project launched the ‘IDP Support Project’, to assist the displaced persons across the North East. Through this project, LikeMinds Project has provided series of assistance in areas of feeding, clothing and so on to such an extent that, many adjudged it as one of the ‘most supportive and effective’ indigenous non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In this interview, she speaks to ARITA about the project and how her organisation works…

What is the LikeMinds Project about?

The LikeMinds Project is a non-profit, non-partisan Civil Society Organisation (CSO) made up of individuals who share a common objective of building a peaceful, equitable and just society. It is registered under the Corporate Affairs Commission as a Company Limited by Guarantee. Our vision is a world in which every able person contributes towards building a peaceful, equitable and just society.

Could you give us a background behind your organisation and how it reached this enviable point?

The LikeMinds Project began in 2006 as an informal social network with friends meeting on a regular basis and discussing issues that affected the society in which we live. Through these gatherings, we acknowledged the need to promote the culture of volunteerism as there were more well-meaning people than vehicles through which they could get involved to improve communities. Thus, the project evolved as the group committed to carrying out community engagement activities. We incorporated in 2008 and have since grown into a volunteer-run, socially conscious network.  Since inception, the LikeMinds Project has organized several projects through the efforts of our members, volunteers, supporters (both individual and corporate), as well as strategic partnerships with other institutions.

Has your primary objective so far been achieved?

Our objectives include creating a network of like-minded individuals who wish to build a peaceful, equitable and just society, improving the quality of life and advancing the rights of the less privileged, giving back to the society by bringing about change for good and encouraging processes which enhance self-reliance and sustainable development. Also, it involves assisting in the improvement of livelihoods in vulnerable communities, empowering women and youth by providing opportunities to enhance their capacities towards building a better future for themselves, creating awareness and sensitisation on social issues and advocating for peace and the promotion of peaceful co-existence.

Why is LikeMinds passionately involved in Borno State, is it a part of the objective?

The situation in the northeast particularly Borno State cannot be ignored and it requires all the support to ensure we have lasting peace and that our population is taken care of and empowered. In addition, being a daughter of Borno myself, I had always planned to eventually expand into Borno but I did not imagine that it would be on this scale. The humanitarian situation is very worrying, and our intention is to continue with our empowerment programs long after the situation has been stabilised. We must all do our parts to build our communities.

What has Likeminds so far done or achieved in Borno?

The LikeMinds Project has been engaged in Borno since 2013 when the attack in Baga happened. Since then it has established an office in Maiduguri on July 1, 2015. It continues to work with several IDP groups both in and outside the official camps through three key components: ‘Food for Humanity’ – providing relief materials (such as food, toiletries, and clothing, etc); ‘WE RISE’ – supporting women’s economic empowerment, rehabilitation and re-integration; ‘For the Children’ – giving long-term support to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) to provide shelter, education, nutrition, support for health and well-being and encouragement.

How are the activities of LikeMinds coordinated?

We aim to achieve our objectives through two key programmes:

Volunteers for Peace (VfP) – volunteer and community engagement towards creating a more peaceful world. VfP is the channel through which volunteers engage in LikeMinds activities.

As a mechanism for developing volunteerism, VfP activities typically are those in which volunteers can get involved on a one-time or short-term basis.  Through these activities, LikeMinds strives to foster and build a culture of shared responsibility for our communities. Through VfP, LikeMinds facilitates activities that meet clearly defined needs. Realizing that change must first begin with ourselves, we strive to give members and participating volunteers an opportunity to be inspired and feel fulfilled while building social consciousness towards creating a better society. We unite volunteers who share a strong commitment to nonviolence with specific initiatives that are in line with our core values. We also strive to promote self-awareness and sensitisation on issues of concern within our communities through advocacy, training, empowerment, and mentoring.

Vulnerable Communities – Supporting Communities that are mostly in need. The objective of this programme is to enhance the quality of lives particularly of the less privileged and most disadvantaged [people in the society] by providing resources required to assist them.

Vulnerable Communities projects are medium to long-term; designed to accompany the most vulnerable within our communities. We advocate for the basic human rights of the most vulnerable and mentor activists from within the communities served. All Vulnerable Communities programmes are selected with a goal of providing longitudinal support for the organization or community along with opportunities for volunteers who are eager for a longer-term commitment.

We learn you partner with Dangote Foundation and have brought quite a lot of intervention to Borno State. How is that done, did you bring the foundation here?

The donation from the Dangote Foundation was entirely the decision of the Chairman. The LikeMinds Project has partnered with a number of donors, networks, and volunteers towards achieving the objectives of its programmes. Our communities are an important source of support for our projects and activities; providing us with volunteers, financial and material contributions, corporate sponsorship and so much more.  We are committed to maintaining the highest levels of transparency and accountability to our donors and the communities we serve.

What have you, and Dangote foundation so far achieved or done in Borno?

LikeMinds has been a key partner of the Dangote Foundation since 2015 providing relief materials for internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the northeast of Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, and the FCT and its environs.

What more is in the offing, what more should we expect?

LikeMinds will continue to support vulnerable communities in Borno and hopes to continue this support in order to build an equitable, just and peaceful society. This is just the beginning, In sha Allah!