Durian (Making A Difference Foundation) is a social enterprise that empowers women in rural communities to become self-sufficient by providing them with the knowledge and skills needed to transform their local waste and resources into a means of livelihood. We have a crafts village in Imafon, Akure, Ondo state, where we train women on how to make crafts from bamboo and wood, skincare products from cocoa pod husks, and other natural resources; a fashion villa where we train our beneficiaries to create products from fabric and fabric waste. We also have a cassava flakes processing unit and farms where we plant cassava, maize, tomatoes, and more to contribute to the reduction of hunger in communities. Added to this, we currently just started an animal farm and this will be very beneficial to women in the communities we serve as they can invest in the farm and get returns. Our vision is to see a Nigeria where rural does not mean poor and marginalized but where rural is cool and creative.
"You are such a waste, you good for nothing" was a word that was constantly said to me while growing up. It lead me to hating myself and people around me. I tried sucide, soaked myself in hateful feelings and hated every aspect of living. I left home at 16 out of frustration and having lost my dad. After I left, I tasted the venomous sting of poverty, low self esteem, sadness, loneliness and hunger. As a result of this, I started seeking for jobs to keep myself going and to pay for my university fees. During this period, I got the opportunity to teach in primary and secondary schools and the students saw me as their confident. They will come and ask me personal questions and gradually I began to see that I was valuable and deserve to live. Added to this, I met with the creative person within me when I encountered the beauty in waste and how I can create solutions from plastic waste. As a result of this, I decided to push myself beyond limits and do whatever it is I can to support every other person who like me have been called waste or treated like one. I decided to use waste items as a resource to create new stories for the poor and marginalized. This is what led me into working within rural communities in Nigeria and starting the organization "Durian".
Today, through the Durian Nigeria, we have trained over 80 women out of which 19 are gainful employed using the skills they have learned while some of the other young women have returned to school and some are married. We have also touched the lives of over 20,000 people across six rural communities in Akure North local government area through our community based intervention projects. Through our food processing projects we are making cassava flakes available at an affordable price to over 70 families in Imafon, Igunsin and Ilado Communities. Our children learning space is opened to 130 children who are mostly the children of the women we serve. We are gradually recreating stories in rural communities.