As one grows, ideas flow, dreams heighten, visions get strengthened and ambitions also get exciting. Then comes the phrase “When I grow up, I will…”Goldmark Owoofa Adeojo couldn’t wait till she is grown up to showcase her potentials to the world. At the tender age of four, Goldmark started carrying placards and graduated into leading rallies before establishing her foundation in 2003 at the age of eight called, “Live Alive Foundation” a child led organization which creates awareness in the areas of HIV/AIDS prevention among others.
THE INSPIRING KICK OFF
Goldmark, who hails from Kogi State was born on Feburary 28, 1995. She is the first born of three children and the only sister to eight years old brother Adewale and six years old brother Victor. Her father is an engineer and her mother, a journalist. As a child, Goldmark had the rare opportunity of following her mother Jumoke, to events that had to do with HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis, and entertainment from where, the interest developed.
By 2003, she has started attending meetings and rallies of many NGOs, most especially those of the Nigerian Network of NGOs (NNNGO) of which she is the youngest member. It was the experience she acquired here that brought about the desire to come up with her own NGO, hence the establishment of Live Alive Foundation (LAF). When she told her aunties of the name of her NGO, they laughed but little did they know that Goldmark was bent on making a difference in her generation.
She attended Olorunlabake Nursery and Primary School, Oshogbo from 200 – 2005; Nigerian International School Cotonou, Benin Republic in 2005, Jomomat Private College from 2006 – September 2007 and at present she is a JSS3 student of Royal Crown Comprehensive College, Iju – Ishaja, Nigeria.
HOW FAR AND WELL HAS THE JOURNEY BEEN?
Goldmark has impacted a lot in both old and young lives. Children around the estate where she lives have no reason to roam as they have one thing or the other doing. According to her, “a three year old child in my NGO knows about HIV/AIDS, a six year old knows what stigmatization is all about and kicks against it. We all know about sexuality education and have passed this to many mothers who are now fully aware that sexuality education is not about kissing. It is a way of letting your child know about herself and the dangers facing such ages. I believe getting children involved on time will save lives and will allow us to join the adults in making this world a better place she stressed. With this effort, she expected that her mother who is into journalism would use her connection to promote her but her mother was of the opinion that her talent would give her necessary connections. Besides, her mother was not impressed with what she was doing at the initial stage. This did not deter Goldmark, she says, “…but I have passion that goes beyond fame and money”. She is happy that despite all, her work invites the media to her even when she doesn’t inform the media.
She was to attend ICASA 2005 but couldn’t as it coincided with her examination in school. It was painful to her but she did not allow it kill her dreams. ICASA gave birth to AIDS 2006 in Toronto, Canada where she was the youngest delegate. She had her own session which was called “KIDS CAN”. Her brothers, who were to do the session where she uses arts, music and open discussions to create awareness, were not around due to lack of sponsorship, but she managed all the same. Thereafter, she and fourteen youths were chosen to discuss with international leaders Dr. Peter Piot of UNAIDS, the First Lady of Houndras, Minister of Health Mexico and Canada etc. on the way forward. The second day, her story and pictures were splashed in the city’s tabloids including the oldest paper in the country (“The Globe” and the “The Mail” newspapers).
Goldmark has impacted much on the youths in her area and even abroad. The talented and gifted 12-year old has not only immersed herself in a war against the spread of HIV/AIDS and traveled worldwide to create awareness on HIV prevention, education, treatment etc. but has made it a priority to see for international leaders’ intervention while making a case for orphan and vulnerable children.
In the beginning, nobody allowed a kid to take meaningful roles in International Conferences. But her participation at the AIDS 2006 has really opened the eyes and minds of international leaders to see that kids can parley with them in decision making processes. She is presently the Executive Director of LAF and she has her peers working with her.
HER DRIVING FORCE
Her vision to make a child activism a reality in Nigeria where kids would be educated on issues affecting them before they become youth drives her on. The need to make the world a better place than she had met it remains fresh in her. She is highly encouraged and motivated by her role models. Her teachers and school Principal who understand her situation of being out of school sometimes; Nelson Mandela for not giving up the battle when his son died but came out to kick against the spread of HIV/AIDS; Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, the former External Affairs Minister for encouraging her and Mrs. Adenike Esiet, the Executive Director of Action Health Incorporated (AHI) for appreciating her talent and passion for giving young people age – appropriate and factual health information that would enhance their development.
“Being an achiever is not because I became a public figure at age eleven, but because I did not allow my challenges dim my vision.”This has saved lives both home and abroad and I have met and interacted with personalities including Presidents of countries in the hope of appealing for help for those children dying out of AIDS, Rape and situations,” she concluded.
AWARDS AND INVOLVEMENTS
Goldmark is a member of “National Think Tank” an independent body set up to advice the government on the way forward. She is in the Youth Committee and hopes to use her connection to make lives better for kids and young people. She is a member of many local and international organizations like NNNGO, Stop Child Poverty (SCP), GYCA, TIG, GYG, and CRIN. She participated as the youngest delegate in IAS 2006, Toronto, Canada and Global Young Green Formation, Kenya 2007; Special delegate, Friends Africa/Global Fund Inauguration 2007, Rwanda; VIP Feature Speaker, Women Deliver 2007 Global Conference, London; among others.
She was given Social Enterprise Awards and a 2007 SERA Award winner on HIV/AIDS Awareness for youth; Jonathan Mann Award of Global Health and Rights for her ability to campaign against the spread of HIV/AIDS and stigmatization and also for making positive impact in young people’s lives.
To those who feel uncared for by the society and those who want to make positive impact in our world, Goldmark encourages them to be focused and hopeful. She believes that, “a stitch in time saves a million not nine”. She also believes that nobody is too young to make a difference; you only have to be ready to listen, reason, and learn about the new things which can change the society for good. She plans to become a medical doctor in future and specialize in Child Health. Miss Goldmark relaxes by listening to music, watching TV and playing games.
Surely, this is a mark of greatness. Who says she is not an achiever?