By Sunday Ani
Two nongovernmental organisations, Boys Champions and Hope for African Children will be working in partnership with the Vanderbilt University in United States to train 100 teachers in Nigeria.
Founder of the Boys Champions and Hope for African Children, Noel Ifeanyi Alumona, who disclosed this to journalists, said two professors from the Vanderbilt University would be anchoring the programme at the new training centre in Enugu. He said the training, which will commence after an international conference tagged, “Shaping the Future,” organised by the group, would have been held on November 25, would include best classroom practices and management skills to better support students, especially those with learning and physical disabilities.
Alumona said the training would be provided at no cost for the participants, who must be teachers resident in Nigeria and working in schools in the country. He explained further explained that training would improve special education and better support for children with disabilities to have access to education in the country.
Alumona said he recently met with His Holiness, Dalai Lama in India, with whom he shared the vision behind the founding of Boys Champions. He said he related to the Nobel laureate the horrific story of watching his mother killed by hoodlums when he was only nine years old. The young leader, who turned 30 on October 1, said it was a chilly incident that traumatised his childhood and left his heart bleeding in agony.
“Rather than brood endlessly over my loss and seek vengeance against the cruel perpetrators, I toed the path of peace and founded a non-government organisation, Boys Champions, to educate young boys and men to shun violence against women and girls for a better society. I chose forgiveness in place of revenge, and I became a messenger of peace, preaching respect and tolerance for women among youths in Nigerian communities.
“The heroic work of Boys Champions caught the eyes of the world as I won the 2022 AFS Award for Young Global Citizens by the United States Institute of Peace and became the first African to win the coveted prize since its inception in 1914.
“Every year, the United States Institute of Peace gathers 28 youth leaders from across the globe confronting violence conflict to meet with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, where he encourages them in their peace-building efforts in their home countries. This dialogue is a partnership between USIP and the Dalai Lama, a global voice for peace and 1989 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate,” he stated.
Noel said he joined other young leaders from across the global for this year’s ‘Generation Change’ programme in the pilgrimage of peace to meet his Holiness, Dalai Lama.
“As someone who works to end violence against women and girls in Nigeria by teaching young boys proper behaviors and respect for women, I have been inspired by meeting His Holiness and other change makers from different countries across the world,” he recalled.
Speaking on the gains of the five-day training and dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he added: “The whole world is interconnected and we are all facing similar problems. Gender-based violence in Nigeria is gender-based violence in Colombia; climate change and global warming in Uganda is the same in America; and injustice and war in Syria and Libya is the same as it is in South Sudan and Turkey. Thus, we all need to have one mind and treat each other with love while promoting world peace.”
He said meeting the other 25 young leaders selected from across the world was a great and memorable experience. According to him, these incredible young leaders were carefully selected from war-torn countries, killing fields and unstable governments as well as from tragic situations and experiences.
“Each of the Fellows had an opportunity to share his or her stories with His Holiness, who listened attentively, moved with pity, showed empathy and prayed, too. These stories were all about conflict scenes and experiences, from sexual violence against women and girls, to genocide, trafficking, wars, ethnic cleansing, and fleeing of an entire community from their land,” he explained.
Noel said His Holiness, Dalai Lama was teary and emotional listening to the stories, but as a father, he listened with rapt attention as participants unloaded their bottled sorrows.
In his response, His Holiness, said: “Thank you, Noel, for sharing these sad experiences with me. There is so much violence and hate in the world already. It gives me hope that from losing your mom to violence, you’re taking actions through ‘Boys Champions’ to ensure that more women do not fall victims. This is why compassion and education of the heart are important for humanity. We all need to be compassionate and ensure that we forgive those who hurt us so that the world can have peace.”