#LLAInterview: “I want to leave the world better than I met it, in whatever little way I can, especially for the next generation,” Linda Nnodiogu, Anti-Child Sexual Abuse Advocate, Author & Humanitarian

Image credit: Linda Nnodiogu

Linda Nnodiogu is anti-rape and child sexual abuse advocate and author. To further portray her stance about these issues, Linda is a successful author who has published books (fiction) revolving around rape and child abuse, esp. for children. Many children and parents after reading Linda’s books, on rape and sex education have called to talk about molestation or thanked her for opening their eyes to understanding more about the topics.

She is also a speaker and her books are approved by Abia and Enugu States Ministry of Education for primary and secondary schools. She is also the Co-founder of Great Minds Literary Competition which collaborates with ministries of education in various states to help promote the reading culture amongst school children. Linda also organizes interactive sessions with children to educate them on child sexual abuse.

In this interview with Leading Ladies Africa, Linda shares the inspiration behind becoming a child sexual advocate, reasons why parents need to be intentional about their children’s welfare and tips for young ladies who want to become a humanitarian. Lean in!

Can we meet you?

My name is Linda Nnodiogu. I am an author, entrepreneur, an anti-child sexual abuse advocate and the co-founder of Great Minds Literary competition -an initiative aimed at promoting the reading culture.

The inspiration behind becoming an anti-rape & sexual abuse advocate (what are your roots, what connects your childhood to what you do now? Who are the most important people in your life and how did they impact you? )

Growing up, the topic of sex, sex education and sexual abuse was a taboo. The highest form of sex education I got was what I like to call “The menstruation scare talk”. On the day I saw my first period, I was sternly informed that if I went close to a man, I would get pregnant.  I lacked basic knowledge about my body and the expected changes as I approached puberty, of which menstruation was just a small part of. I turned to books, my peers and the television to get the answers to the questions I couldn’t ask my parents because it was shrouded in secrecy.

Back then in boarding school, I discovered that my peers were as ignorant as I was. Most of us didn’t know how to count/calculate our menstrual cycle or how to use pads. We were basically wallowing in ignorance which a lot of people would call innocence. While I was lucky, some of my close friends paid dearly for this ignorance. I saw young girls asking the right questions about the changes they were experiencing to the wrong people who took advantage of their ignorance and exploited them sexually.

After having my kids and relating closely with lots of children through my other projects, and in light of the growing epidemic of child sexual abuse, I made up my mind to be proactive towards the safety of these children. In the process of researching and asking questions, I found out that a good number of people around me, both male and female had been victims of child sexual abuse.

As a writer, I decided to use my craft of storytelling to spread this awareness to both the parents and children. I published a storybook that taught children ways of staying safe from sexual abuse. I also wrote a comprehensive parent’s guide to preventing child sexual abuse titled “Not My Child!” I went further by organizing a school-to-school awareness program for children and online sensitization of parents to help curb this menace.

Image credit: Linda Nnodiogu

The inspiration behind establishing Great Minds Literary Competition & its impacts on students?

While in the school system some years back, I noticed that most students only read books in the school curriculum. I also noticed that the competitions these students participated in were mostly mathematics, science and spelling bees – nothing for the young creatives.

As an author who writes mostly for children and young adults, I wanted to create a platform that will help revive the dying reading culture in our society especially amongst children. Four years ago, we created a platform that encouraged and rewarded children for reading through literary competitions.

We also included an oral segment to the competition which is helping children build their public speaking skill. Some schools have borrowed this initiative and conduct internal competitions for their pupils using our methods in other subjects

Mistakes and lessons learned.

Don’t tell people your dreams, you have to show them.  During the maiden edition of the literary competition, I delegated some duties with the notion that they understood the vision, but it got to a point where everything was falling apart. We had to go back to the drawing board and did the groundwork ourselves.

This setback helped us understand the importance of personnel training, especially, in the field. There is this saying that goes “You need to learn from your mistakes to start a new beginning” –we learned from our mistakes and have developed a system that works over the years.

Since its inception, Great Minds Literary competition has recorded the participation of over 200 schools in Anambra State with over 6000 pupils and Students in attendance. The idea behind the competition is not just to read, but to read and comprehend and this is achieved through a series of written and oral test to determine the winner of the cash prices and school supplies.  In agreement with our mission and vision, the Abia state ministry of Education is currently collaborating with Great Minds to bring this competition to all the public schools in Abia state.

Image credit: Linda Nnodiogu

Success markers + Outlook.

Over the years, we’ve interviewed proprietors and teachers of schools that participated in the competition. They attested to the growing interest the pupils had in not just the stories in books but in the words that make up these stories. Some of the events that give me great joy was seeing a pupil, who did not make it to the finale the previous year, clinch the grand price the following year.

A young boy from a humble background won the grand prize in 2018 and was granted full scholarship by his school. An 8-year old girl won a special price at the competition two years ago not because she answered questions, but because she read all the books used for the competition even those not meant for her class. That singular act proved that we were making ardent readers out of these children, which is one of our primary goals.

In terms of future expectations, Great Minds is committed to making writers out of these young readers. We have plans in motion to include creative writing into the competition to discover, groom and encourage young talents in all genres of literature.

Image credit: Linda Nnodiogu

Advice for young ladies who want to become a humanitarian

My advice for young women who are pursuing any advocacy or humanitarian cause is to stay true to their passion and to be consistent even though it might be discouraging at the onset. Collaborate with people who share your vision. Have mentors – these are people who are successfully making an impact in that area. You could learn a thing or two from their journeys or methods; it could be locally or internationally.

Also, start effecting that change you want to see in the world from that little corner you live in. Start small- you don’t need to have everything figured out.  People will be more willing to support you if they see you doing something already, so just start.

Legacy/ What you would want to be remembered for.

My legacy? That is quite simple; I want to leave the world better than I met it, in whatever little way I can, especially for the next generation.

 

The Leading Ladies Africa weekly interview series focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.

Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to lead@leadingladiesafrica.org and we just might feature her.

 

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