Erica Williams

Erica Williams (WOCON – Women’s Consortium of Nigeria): Erica worked at the Leadership Alliance Summer Research Early Identification Program at Howard University, in Washington, where she organized material for the African Burial Ground Project. Between 1999 and 2001 Erica worked and studied in Venezuela, Brazil and South Africa. In South Africa, she conducted historical and ethnographic research at the University of Western Cape. Erica studied for her BA at New York University, where she received several travel and research scholarships and volunteered for several different organizations: Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER), WomenCare, Face to Face International, The Center for African Spiritual Culture, InI Performance Club, NYU, Golden Rose Awards Banquet Committee, NYU. She also served as Editorial Assistant, Academic Achievement Program Newsletter, NYU. At the time of her fellowship, Erica was studying for a Master's degree in African Studies at Yale University and preparing to start a Ph.D. in Cultural and Social Anthropology at Stanford University. Erica asked many probing questions of AP’s new fellowship program, in person and through her final evaluation: “At the orientation, I noticed the beginning of a possible conflict of interest when I learned that interns were expected to engage in capacity-building at their organizations. But I questioned my ability as a 23 year-old student to tell a 50 year-old experienced, renowned human rights lawyer and activist how to run her organization. Perhaps this is the cultural anthropologist in me, but AP, myself, and future interns must recognize their position as outsiders to Nigeria and to WOCON. Being in that tenuous position creates a dynamic where it is difficult to tell people what they should do, because as outsiders we’re not even accustomed to living in their environment." “For instance, with my office experience in the U.S., I’m used to organizing files in labeled manila folders and hanging file folders in file cabinets. Thus, I found WOCON’s filing system of long folders in a multi-shelved closet impossible to understand. But it works for them. My work experience in the U.S. has also trained me to write out my daily activities, allot a specified amount of time to tasks, and rely heavily on the computer. This is an unattainable goal in Lagos because of the constant unexpected power outages and the fact that sending two emails can take you upwards of two hours. Future interns should be fully aware of the challenges they will face in Nigeria, and even then they may still have trouble adapting to the environment.” Erica also found Lagos to be hard work: “The daily struggles of life in Lagos were another challenge. Constant power outages, traffic jams, torrential rains and floods, painfully slow internet service, and the week-long fuel strike all conspired to make my work more difficult.”

Simbo Elected as ECPAT Youth Representative for Africa

17 Jul

This week WOCON received news that their Youth Director, Miss Olasimbo Olateru-Olagbegi, has been elected as the Youth Representative for Africa to the ECPAT International Children and Youth Advisory Committee (EICYAC). ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) International is a network of over 50 groups around the world working to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Miss Olateru-Olagbegi, commonly known as Simbo, has been a committed youth activist in child rights and youth participation since 1997 when she began working as a Programme Assistant with WOCON at the age of 17. She has coordinated campaigns and workshops on child rights, civic education, and trafficking in persons, and has undergone extensive training on leadership skills, fund-raising, election monitoring, NGO management, gender and human rights.

All this experience prepared her to make presentations and facilitate workshops at national and international conferences, including the 2nd World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) in Yokohama, Japan in December 2001, and the Nigerian children summit held in Abuja last year. She is currently a member of the Children’s Forum Sub-Committee for the 4th African Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect in Africa. The theme of the 2004 conference will be Child Trafficking: Challenge to Child Protection in Africa.

When asked about her plans for the new position Simbo said, “I hope to use my role as the Youth representative for Africa on the ECPAT International Children and Youth Advisory Committee to coordinate efforts of NGOs, individuals, and governments in the fight against the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Africa. I understand that I cannot do this alone. I will need the help of individuals and/or organizations to carry out my duties effectively.” With bright, perpetually laughing eyes and a radiant smile, Simbo is a joy to be around, a pleasure to work with, and an inspiration to those who want to dedicate their lives to making the world a better, safer, more just place.

Posted By Erica Williams

Posted Jul 17th, 2003

Enter your Comment


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *