I want every child to be passionate about education.
Africa Renewal: Why are you here at the United Nations headquarters?
DJ Cuppy: It is an absolute pleasure to be here. My name is DJ Cuppy, also known as Florence Otedola. I am an international DJ and philanthropist, but most importantly, I am an avid believer and advocate for SDG 4 [quality education] and SDG 5 [gender equality].
I was invited here in New York to participate in International Day of Peace activities.
I was a young Nigerian girl with local dreams, but education has made me a woman with a global vision at 30 years old.
As you know, the UN headquarters is very far from Lagos where I was born and one of the most vibrant cities in Africa. One thing that separates me from most young Nigerians is access to education.
Education in Nigeria is seen as a privilege, so I am passionate about addressing that challenge.
What are you doing about it?
I am doing many things. I founded the Cuppy Foundation six years ago and so far we have helped over 50,000 Nigerian students get education.
Philanthropy is an experience; it is not just about charity; it is not just about giving; it is also about learning. One of the things I have learned so far is that I went into the Nigerian environment thinking I needed to just provide educational tools. In Northern Nigeria, particularly, many young girls don't have access to education. So, I recently focused my efforts on states in the region, including Katsina and Borno.
The Cuppy Foundation funds a stabilization center in Maiduguri [capital of Borno State]. There are insurgent and terrorist activities in that region. Unfortunately, when you go there, you can't just give a sick child a book; you also have to make sure the child is well.
Do you provide them with books?
No, actually. We aimed to provide them with books until we found out that they needed primary health care first. So, this is how all the SDGs are inter-connected. Once we take care of their health, we move on to the next stage, which is to finally educate them.
You must make sure you are not just putting on a plaster; you are healing the wound.
You are dealing with about 50,000 students, but there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, who need assistance. Do you work with other partners, including the government?
We have several partners. You cannot do it alone. It is important to view the government as a partner. It is important to collaborate.
I will be honest with you, helping these children with education is rather far-removed from...
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