When I started blogging, I did contact this strong woman, Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale, hoping to engage in her in a project. I was so impressed with her initiative but couldn’t pull off the project because of financial constraint. This year, I found another interesting side of her and tried to get the world to read her story but alot keeps clouding it. Today, I no longer wish to deprive my readers the opportunity to know Olutosin’s story. A story of victory and success, very inspiring and promotes the 16days campaign of theUnited Nations.
Olutosin was born on the 20thDecember, 1972, in Owo Ondo State-Western Nigeria. She had her primary school education at Government primary school Owo and her high school education in Owo High School. After graduating in 1988, she went in search of admission into the higher institution. It took her a while but she finally got admission to the University of Lagos in 1993 and studied English. She went on to do her masters in English Arts and graduated in 2001. In 2009, she was selected amongst the World Pulse’s Voices of our Future and underwent six months journalism training. She didn’t stop there as Olutosin attended Visthar Institute of Peace and Development in Bangalore, India in 2010 to study gender and Transformation and by 2011, she did Transformation at the Institute of Transformation in Kleinmond, Cape Town, South Africa. She continued to expand her knowledge base with a Leadership course in 2013 at the COADY’s St Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada and proceeded to Kanthari Institute of Social Entrepreneurship in Kerala, India in the same year.
With Olutosin’s vast educational background, it shocked me to find out that a man would place no value on such a woman by trampling on her human rights and perpetually assaulting her by violently beating her for reasons that are in no way justifiable. It was her experience in the hands of her husband and her struggle for survival that gave birth to Tosin Turns Thrash To Treasures (5T). In her words, “I am a survival of domestic violence and it took me a conscious decision to put an end to violence in my family. The ill treatment of violence by my husband made me feel like trash and I know how other women who are being battered feel after each act of violence. It bothers me how a woman could kiss and love a man last night and the following day, she will be faced with slaps and kicks from that same man. I forgave my man but first, I had to put an end to the violence and as soon as I was able to achieve that in my life, I went on to support other women to end violence in their homes. After supporting them, some of them needed to be empowered and that was how 5T was born”.
When asked why she chose the name 5T, Olutosin says, ” There are 5Ts in Tosin Turns Thrash To Treasure and there are 5 steps in the program- Healing and Gender, Creativity, Entrepreneurship, Independence production and Monitoring and Evaluation. 5T is a long lasting solution for abused women”. She has managed to take this initiative outside the shores of Nigeria. “In 2013, I was in India for 7 months. In this time, I had the opportunity to train women on how to make cooking bags through Mahila Samakhya Karnataka. It was a program that empowered 15 tailors from 8 districts in India. These women were trained on how to use Styrofoam to make cooking bags and were expected to return to their districts to train other tailors in the Mahila Samakhya programme- a government of India project that is targeted at rural and poor women. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Travelling for 25 hours in a train in order to empower poor women; all free of charge. It was awesome and also it marked a turning point in the journey of my life”, said Olutosin.
Despite the hurdles, Olutosin has remained passionate about what she does despite the challenges she is faced with in running the program. I have never been to Ibasa but the pictures posted by Tosin on her facebook page shows that it is a remote area. Yet, Tosin has never thought of letting these women go and remain in “civilization”. Probably because she strongly believes that it is only entrepreneurship that can bail Nigerians out of poverty. She advises the Nigerian government to look into innovative ways of improving the lives of the citizens.
Speaking to women and young girls faced with violence of any type, Tosin says, ”When we are faced with difficult moments, we can always take a walk out, enjoy cool breeze and start all over again. Do not hesitate to speak out, until help comes”. Tosin is still married and her marriage has produced two beautiful daughter aged 12 and 9. She is a courageous woman worthy of honor.
I urge every young woman out there to take Tosin’s last words seriously. Yesterday, it was her turn to be battered by her husband. Today, it is my turn to be battered by a superior colleague at work and tomorrow, it could be your turn to be battered by an abusive partner, a superior at work, or just some person out there who thinks that he or she is stronger than you are. The fight must continue until we can rescue every woman who has been putting up with violence. December 6, 2014 is a date for youths to join thecampaign actively and I have gotten a platform to do so. You can join other young professionals and I and let us spread the word. Just wear a touch of orange that day and come spend time with us having fun but letting the world know. For details, send me an email. At the end of the 90days Healthy Hair Growth Challenge, we will be gathering to do a group work out which focuses on building your stamina. So, it goes beyond a mere hair growth challenge but another avenue to better equip us for unforeseen dangers. Not to engage in any form of combatant with any abusive one but to at least, defend yourself, even if it means running so fast till you can get help. Just after that, there will be another program on a larger scale to better educate young women and girls on the importance of loving yourself. Tosin said, “The best friend of every woman is a woman” and for this reason, I choose to be the best friend of every woman, giving them an added platform to be heard and better equipped.