Welcome to November!
Our Young Person of the Month is Damilare Oyedele from Nigeria! Damilare is a Library Advocate and Librarypreneur. He is the Co-Founder & Chief Executive: Library Aid Africa, a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on advocacy and also supports the resuscitation of libraries in schools and communities – leveraging digital technology and citizen engagement approaches.
He is also a Mastercard Foundation Scholar at the African Leadership
University, studying Global Challenges.
Read his amazing journey below and be inspired!
Damilare Oyedele is a librarypreneur and the Co-founder and Chief Executive of Library Aid Africa, a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on advocacy and support of libraries in schools and communities.
He has a keen interest in programs development and management and he is a Mastercard Foundation Scholar at African Leadership University.
Damilare grew up in Ibadan, South West of Nigeria where he did his nursery, primary and secondary school education. The schools he attended never had a library. This denied him access to literature and the ability to use information independently. As a result, his reading culture was poor and he could not communicate fluently. This presented him with numerous
challenges, including the inability to pass the national transition examination twice consecutively because of the lack of access to reading materials.
At the age of 19, Damilare began to mobilize his friends as volunteers to work towards community library projects. They commenced by writing articles in Nigerian daily newspapers about the importance of libraries in their society. This initiative later grew into a not-for-profit organisation called Library Aid Africa which he now heads as the Co-Founder & Chief
For the past 4 years, Library Aid Africa has focused on advocacy and also supporting the resuscitation of libraries in schools and communities – leveraging digital technology and citizen engagement approaches to drive projects and policy reforms for libraries in 10 African countries.
On Their Successes
In 2016 they began a TV series called “Library and You” where they discussed feasible solutions on how to revamp libraries. This series lasted for three consecutive quarters, reaching thousands of viewers.
Furthermore, they designed an online competition called #libraryselfie to create awareness about the importance of libraries as spaces for reading and learning – with 3 editions: #libraryselfie2018 in Nigeria and #libraryselfie2019 across six African countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa, and #libraryselfie2020 across 9 African countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Ethiopia This initiative has created 42 winners, who have then become library champions driving advocacy for improved library development and usage in their local communities.
In 2019, they collaborated with one of their major International partners to launch the Inspire Us Collection; digital collection of books leveraging mobile technology and literature to redefine gender stereotypes and boost women’s and girls’ empowerment and assertiveness. Through this project, they reached 1025 persons through book club engagement activities, 233 persons through virtual book clubs and over 70000 persons via social media platforms.
Also, Library Aid Africa in partnership with GAPMIL Youth launched the Young African Library Leaders Fellowship— a capacity development program for young library professionals in Africa. This program in its first year enrolled 37 young library leaders across 12 African countries. The Young African Library Leaders Fellowship provides platforms where young library leaders in Africa are engaged with practical approaches, discussions and interactive sessions on how they can drive progress across the Sustainable Development plans through equitable access to information for all.
Damilare’s active engagement within the library space in Africa earned him the opportunity to co-host key sessions at the African Youth SDGs Summit 2018, the 5th Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development 2019, and the 6th Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development 2020, where they shared evidence-based practices on how libraries drive progress across the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 in African communities.
Damilare’s future plan is to improve on their on-going programmatic activities through improved community engagement approaches, advocacy and policy reforms for libraries— leveraging digital technology.
On His Obstacles
Damilare says, he has learnt to understand that there is no success without failure. This has taught him perseverance, commitment and consistency. This over the years, has been a major support to overcome obstacles that he faced in the course of his work.
His Words of Advice to the Youth
“Prioritize your growth and personal development and be deliberate about your actions. Explore new creative ways to engage the community you want to serve. Also, partnership and collaboration is important.”
Who will be the Next Young Person of the Month?
You can be the next Opportunity Desk Young Person of the Month! All you have to do is get a friend to recommend your work or fill out the nomination form here. We want to use the platform to recognize and celebrate the efforts of amazing young people around the world. Oh! And you must be an active Opportunity Desk member, either as a fan, reader or subscriber!