Dr Mrs Folashade James is the Business Developer of a free library service. She also runs a skill acquisition program at no cost for women.
Recently, in interview with Daily Sun, she spoke on the thriving issues of unemployment amongst youths in the society, as well as the real reasons for setting up a free Library and free skill acquisition program.
What was the reason for setting up a free library?
The CRIMMD Free Public Library started in 2004. Our aim of setting it up help keep the youths busy because when their minds are active, they will not engage in vices because an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
The reason is to help reduce the crime rate in the society and produce intellectuals within the environment.
The free library service provides an avenue for young ones to have access to books to read free and to leave a legacy for the communities where it is located.
What is the purpose of CRIMMD and what does it aim to achieve?
CRIMMD is a research institute that focuses on media, political as well as historical researches. The purpose is to create a centre where systematic enquiries are carried out on respective subject matters of interest, create an avenue for the acquisition of knowledge of facts or circumstances are properly managed and disseminated to the right channel. It aims to establish a route of assisting in building a better world of effective communication, to awaken the gradually dying reading culture among youngsters, nurture a strong desire to redeem the youths from the apparent lapses in our educational system and to liaise with relevant organizations
We are engaged in investigative research work on trending issues or issues that had made headlines in the past. We document and allow the public access to them, depending on the need. By the nature of our job, we established a library to the general public, essentially to provide them access to various sources of information. We also have a photo museum.
Can you reflect on some of the difficulties you passed through when you started the free skill acquisition program? And how were you able to resolve them?
We started the center after my husband had a funny experience with a lady who had visited him for financial help but offered her body for sex in order to feed her kids. The lady was a widow who claimed that after her husband’s death, almost all her husband’s friends slept with her before they could offer financial help.
My husband came home that day and told me the story and wondered how many other women were going through such ordeal. It was such a sad tale. Her story drew our sympathy and we felt that the only way we could help such women was to set up a place where we can contribute our own quota to help humanity. The best thing was to encourage them to learn skills and be equipped for the challenges ahead in life, if the unexpected happen.
So, in February 2016, the center started with only five sewing machines, four laptops and a computer and some catering equipment. I volunteered to handle the dress making class as a seamstress, even as I coordinate the center.
Can you share with us how much this skill acquisition programme has impacted on the lives of these women?
Learning a skill and being able to put the skill to good use for sustainability is the best entrepreneurial business any one can go into. That is what we do at CRIMMD SKILL CENTER. Through these skills, the women are able venture into small-scale businesses bead making production of household items such as liquid soap and others.
The women skill acquisition center train women and the girl child on tailoring/fashion designing and computer training, Catering, Bead Making, Soap making (liquid/tablet & detergents), Liquid disinfectant Production, Hat making, Air freshener production, Germicide Production, Insecticide Production, Ankara bags and shoes making & Make-up artistry. Initially it was strictly for married women and widows where we provided teaching equipment and material for practical free. It was meant to empower the women because when empower the women, you empower the nation.
However, doing it all alone has not been easy. While the women to provide their material, we give them free training. By 2017, spinsters and the girl child where encouraged to join the ‘Free Skill Acquisition Training Center for Women.
We also visit schools where we train girls. We have visited 21 secondary schools for skill training programs since 2016. And we have trained 6, 212 women since then.
What are your thoughts on gender inequality, especially in instances where women are regarded as “weaker sex” in the society?
I am not an advocate of gender equality. For me, respect should be reciprocal, not minding the sex. No sex is weaker, because you cannot be taller than me and at the same time, be shorter than me at the same time. If you feel you that are better in one way, you may not meet up in the other way.
What do you think should be done to either, stop completely or minimize gender inequality in the society?
Women should work hard, learn a skill and be engaged. If you have a skill and can fend for yourself, you will not have to depend on anyone for help. That is why we set up the skill acquisition center for women. Women should encourage each other to participate in business and politics and there should be no limitations.
What has life taught you so far?
Life’s lessons and experiences are better than any anything one can from any University. My life’s lessons are a mix bag of everything. It started from growing up in a family of 10, getting married across tribe from Yoruba land to Igbo land and all these have changed my perception in life.
I have learnt to trust and work as a team with my husband rather than work in competition with him. I have learnt that it pays to be kind and nice to people and help others develop their goals, for tomorrow is unpredictable
What is your view of a contemporary woman?
Men and women are equal in the sight of the Creator. We compliment each other and as such, we should work as a team. Having said that, I must also admit that my life style is not the same as that of my mother. The dynamics have changed. Today, I have access to so many things she probably never had and that have broadened my knowledge but I always respect her views and opinions. I am not in a challenge or competition with any man. I don’t believe in feminism but I also do not condemn it for those who go for it.
How would you encourage women who think that all hope is lost?
Once there is life, there is hope. They should never say over until it is over and it can only be over when it is 6 feet down. Once we have life, anything can happen. The man or the woman who is poor today, can spring up tomorrow in wealth. They should never give up.
How do you define success?
Success is that which brings you happiness. It must not be riches. You don’t have to be a multi-millionaire to become successful. Success comes in different forms
What motivates and keeps you striving against all odds?
Without sounding religious, I will say that it is the God factor and because He lives, I can face tomorrow. I want a better society. I want a better family and a better humanity and I believe it begins with me, so I put in my best at all times. Those are my motivating factors
What are you grateful for?
I am grateful for life and my family.