The 2023 Hope Builders Festival was held on November 22, 2023, in Kaduna, Nigeria, to empower youth, nurture interfaith harmony, and promote community development. The event was hosted by Hope Builders International with support from Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria, Interfaith Mediation Center (IMC), JDPC and Maxwell Kyon Foundation. With a focus on skill-building initiatives, the program sought to empower upcoming generations with practical skills and opportunities for economic stability, emphasizing entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency. Interfaith dialogue and engagement among diverse religious communities are an integral part of the program, helping reduce tension and fostering mutual understanding.
The program’s multi-stakeholder engagement involved schools, civil society and religious leaders, and law enforcement agencies, facilitating community cohesion and collective responsibility. By strengthening family structures and values through workshops and educational programs, it aimed to enhance familial bonds and community resilience.
In his opening remarks, Mathias Yashim, the Chief Executive Officer of Hope Builders International, specifically appreciated the partnership of GPF Nigeria and the esteemed guests and participants who took the time to be part of the event. According to him, “The event is a celebration of our commitment to youth empowerment and development considering the importance of young people to the socio-economic growth and development of any nation.”
Mr. Yashim added that witnessing the remarkable talents showcased at the festival filled him with immense pride. He expressed that the vision of the Hope Builders International organization remains resolute in providing practical skills to youth for a brighter and more promising future. The event, in his words, “underscores our dedication to shaping tomorrow’s leaders and innovators through education and empowerment. This we shall sustain through continuous partnership with our dear friends at GPF Nigeria as well as other CSOs and CBOs of like minds.”
Country Director of GPF Nigeria, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, expressed delight at the opportunity for the organization to support such noble ventures in their society. He emphatically conveyed that the focus both at the level of government and as CSOs should shift from short-term charity efforts to sustainable empowerment. Rev. Hayab further emphasized the urgency of equipping Nigerian citizens—particularly school children and youth—with skills to enable them to thrive in the midst of the rising unemployment rate in the state and country.
Rev. Hayab posited that poverty often leaves individuals vulnerable to manipulation and conflict and said sustainable empowerment through skill acquisition is crucial to breaking this cycle. He then called on the government and authorities to adopt intentional strategies that create an enabling environment for skills development. According to him, “It is time for us to take action that brings lasting change to our communities, fostering prosperity and peace.” He concluded that peaceful and harmonious co-existence will be under continuous threat so long as the vast majority of the population, which are young people, are left without proper education and employable skills.
Distinguished guests shared goodwill messages, including Rev. James Wuye and Imam Nuraini Ashafa of Interfaith Mediation Center; Maritha Osakre-Amey Proprietor of Westfield Bridge College, Ghana; Dr. Attahiru Abdullahi, Director of Linkages at Kaduna Polytechnic; Francis Duru, a popular Nollywood actor; and A.S Badamasi, the Kakuri Area Commander of the Nigerian Police who represented the Kaduna State Police Commissioner. All voices unequivocally sounded the need for creating a realistic future for the younger generation with a reminder that society operates on a simple principle: you get what you put in.
Speakers also buttressed the need for fostering dialogue and mutual respect among individuals from various religious and ethnic backgrounds. They recognized the importance of equipping youth with practical skills through collaborative initiatives that aim to empower and steer them toward self-sufficiency.
In GPF Nigeria’s efforts to address societal challenges, attendees recognized the pivotal role of education and skill acquisition, therefore calling for more “sensitization through all media,” including in places of worship, to call on youth to acquire skills for self-sustainability.
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