On the 30th of July 2016, the principles of giving back to one’s society and one’s world were laid bare by a group of persons in London. Our “borderless motivational crew” was on ground to witness this inspiring event.
We all exist in families, communities, groups, nations – none of us exists in isolation. So if that be the case, then it can be implied that as we continue to empower our selves positively in every way possible, we can help enable these very societies we exist in. We can help make them better or can we not?
The error many of us make, knowingly or unknowingly, is that we expect to have hit the pinnacle of our success before we start contributing. Another group on the other hand, may think the duty of giving back and enabling our communities’ lie with other persons and not them – after all, why should it be them anyway?
Over the years, no one has explained the concept of giving back better than the famous Hollywood Actor and Philanthropist Denzel Washington who explained that “at the end of the day, it is not about what you have or even what you have accomplished but it is about who you have lifted up, who you have made better. It is about what you have given back”.
Obviously, it must be in the realization that we can each make a difference should we choose to; no matter how tiny, that the University of Benin Alumni, UK Branch, held her first Alumni reunion in London on July 30th at the Hilton London Olympia Hotel with the theme “Giving Back”.
Mr. Eguasa Omagbon, Senior Assistant Registrar and Director of Alumni Relations and Endowment ably represented the Vice Chancellor of the institution Professor Faraday Orumwense. The current President of the University of Benin Alumni Association Worldwide Hon (Sir) Ifaluyi Isibor, and the two successive immediate past presidents, (Dr. Clement Oghene and Chief Richard Oma Ahonaruogho) were all on hand to grace the occasion as were UNIBEN Alumni members, with their friends and well wishers from within and outside of the United Kingdom all bound directly or indirectly by the values of the noble school UNIBEN.
The evening naturally, had the purple and gold colours of UNIBEN as the colour scheme. The reunion event was chaired by Dr. Ret Omoigui an Alumni who has made his mark in the field of Psychiatry. It was Dr. Ret Omoigui along with the current President Dr. James Ojo and his team that steered the affairs of the occasion without a hitch. Mr. Isreal Wekpe from the University of Leeds and an erudite alumni of UNIBEN, set ‘giving back’ into motion that night when he donated books to UNIBEN on behalf of Leeds University. On hand to dissect the issues of “giving back” further, were two eloquent guest speakers, forged and refined for the world by UNIBEN. The duo of Professor Dilly Anumba and Mr. Douglas Okor dissected the issues of ‘giving back’ with surgical precision and proffered solutions on the way forward.
Professor Dilly Anumba, MBBS FWACS FRCOG MD LL.M (Medical Law) Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Academic Training Programme Director, Sheffield Medical School & South Yorkshire and Humber Deanery, set the ball rolling with his talk titled “University Alumni in the diaspora- giving back in the right currency”. He highlighted what Alumni associations do and why the UNIBEN Alumni should continue to engage in networking, reunion programmes, fundraising and philanthropy, careers support as well as engaging in specific projects. The ultimate aim Professor Anumba explained, is to always promote the University Alma Mater.
Professor Anumba proffered solutions to effective Alumni giving back by calling for an optimization of the efficiency and commitment of the Alumni Office at UNIBEN. Secondly, he highlighted how important it was to strengthen individual and autonomous Nigerian and Diaspora ALUMNI Chapters. Furthermore, he highlighted how a rolling electronic database of registered ALUMNI would facilitate development of the institution by serving as a foundation for communication of UNIBEN projects and needs electronically and via web page to further promote targeted engagement of all past students of the institution with the present day UNIBEN. Professor Anumba exemplifies giving back in his many trips back to UNIBEN/UBTH, enabling skills transfer and human development – the pictures below is evidence to some of his giving back activities.
Next was Mr. Douglas Okor, MBBS, MRCSEd, FRCSEd, Neurosurg. Consultant Neurosurgeon (Skull base and Neurovascular) at Brain and Spine Fix Abuja (http://spinefixedinabuja.com). In his talk titled “Giving back, what does it really take?” Mr. Okor, in his usual energetic and down to earth manner, challenged the audience with thought provoking questions as to why, how and when do we give back? He explained how UNIBEN had given people so much and why it was important to give back. Apart from the emotional attachment Alumnae have to their institutions, he emphasized the attitude of gratitude we should have as humans. Paying a tuition fee of only 95 Naira at the time he got into school, it was clear, compared to medical schools abroad, that his medical education was virtually free. Why would he not be grateful to an institution that gave him “knowledge for service” (the motto of UNIBEN)? What do you give back? In his words, ‘your time, your resources, your energy are some of the things you can give back’. He stressed that when to give back is now, not tomorrow, not the day after.
The high point of the evening was the presentation of Awards to those who have exemplified “giving back” to UNIBEN. One of such persons was Chief Aloysius Ihezie who using the platform of the charity he started; the Ihezie Foundation (Book Relief Africa) http://iheziefoundation.org along with the collaboration of his hardworking Managing Director Micheal Bloedorn are making a positive difference. The unstoppable Ihieze Foundation team is on a mission to help transform lives and education of children in Africa. Apart from his work across Africa, in 2015, this illustrious alumni of UNIBEN pledged to donate 50,000 academic books within four years to the University of Benin some of which have already been delivered.
It is on this note that the LR Team commends the UNIBEN Alumni UK Branch on their giving back initiative. Need I say the evening would not have been complete without the selfless publicity work and social media awareness drive by another great alumna who understands the meaning of giving back- Princess Osta Marioghae.
The LR Team crew at the occasion led by Omoyemwen Agbonwanegbe, were very impressed by the work some of us do to help others in our midst. We can all be the change we so wish to see. We leave you with the wise words of John Wesley this week “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” Till next week when we meet again on this platform, we chant GREATEST UNIBEN!!!!!!
****Logo and institution picture courtesy of the UNIBEN website