Confessions with Lady Jane Ndukwe
Hi lovely people! Welcome back to my blog. During a chat with Lady Jane Ndukwe, Founder and Director of Genuine Womanhood Initiative Pathway to Nation Building, she talked about her NGO, her journey to self-discovery and future projects.
Q: Lady Jane, what inspired you to found Genuine Womanhood Initiative?
A: I taught Etiquette in schools and little groups for a number of years, and observed that Etiquette was seen as an elitist thing. Notwithstanding this, I wanted to see Etiquette as an everyday quality that everyone could embrace. There is no end to good manners and having a civil society. Women are the refining arm of society; the home builders. It would be a lot easier if the woman is able to teach her children, influence her husband positively, influence the society when she goes to buy something or even at her workplace. There’s a huge role the woman plays in beautifying her environment and making things good. All these things propelled me to start up Genuine Womanhood Initiative in December, 2017.
Q: So far, what have been the responses from people?
A: People have been very happy. It’s a welcomed venture because who wouldn’t want to see something good? If women are better trained in areas of Etiquette and Character Building, then we’ll have a safer society. If the home front works, then the society works. You can imagine children raised in homes where there’s respect and consideration, such children will exhibit that in their schools. And when they grow up and get jobs, that’s exactly what they will exhibit. The men, on the other hand, are happy knowing that their wives or daughters are exhibiting good character. It’s a welcomed venture, but the only challenge we’ve had, especially since our move to Enugu has been the inability to raise funds in order to reach as many girls and young women as possible. I was originally targeting inner city girls, trying to give them that chance to also gain polish, find themselves and give them the exposure to compete favourably with their peers from more privileged backgrounds. But it’s quite a challenge trying to raise funds to reach as many people as possible. We’ve carried out a series of trainings and conferences that were really successful, but it was such an uphill task to raise funds which I had to do through my friends, family members in Lagos, Abuja and abroad, with nothing from Enugu. That has made us to rethink.
Q: When you’re not working, what else do you do?
A: When I’m not working, I hangout with my family; we go out for meals and to the movies. I read and write a lot, so even if I’m not working per se, I’m writing something that would better humanity. I have my book, ETIQUETTE MATTERS, which is the definitive guide to conduct in home, dining, business, society and public speaking for today’s African woman. I also have another book, BUILDING A CULTURE OF CONSIDERATION, which is a pocket book that has hints on how to show consideration to one another. Asides writing, I present a program on radio, ‘Etiquette Matters.’ I have to write up materials for that program. Writing is a major part of what I do, whether it’s for work or leisure.
Q: As a child, did you know you would eventually start up an NGO?
A: I didn’t know. I don’t think we even knew what an NGO was at that time. Back in the day, I had never heard anything like an NGO but as a child, I always wanted to reach out to the less privileged and wanted to know how they lived. I even went as far as making myself look like someone in need by dressing down, just to get a feel of what it felt like not to have. I also used to speak for people who were down trodden and oppressed. I was like a voice for them. When I look back now, I see there was something in me that wanted to help the less privileged. What I’m doing now, dates back to when I was a child. Also, I was always referred to as, ‘Lady Jane.’ Back then I didn’t really appreciate this, until my late friend shortly before he died told me that when we were in primary school, I had said to him that I would have a business called, ‘Lady Jane,’ where I would groom young girls into ladies. So, you can see all these things playing out. I did a lot of writing in my younger days, mostly play scripts, little poems and the like. But now, I’m writing more of educational and motivational materials. As a child, I had a glimpse of what the future held.
Q: What’s your journey to self-discovery been like so far?
A: It’s been very rewarding. Going back to my childhood days, I remember being very confident; I could easily mix with people. I remember my mother telling me that each time we travelled as a family, I was always the one seen having conversations with people from other countries and getting on well with them. But somewhere along the line, I lost my confidence. I mean, life happened. It was after this, by the grace of the Most High, that I went into counseling. It was through counseling that I rediscovered myself. I also studied Counseling to help other people, knowing that life happens to us; nobody really knows what tomorrow holds. Many a time, we make choices that could benefit us or mar us. But even with the ones that mar us, if we’re able to hold on and learn the necessary lessons, we’ll come out better people. I use counseling to help younger people passing through challenges. I emphasize on ‘Knowing who you are,’ because this is key. You must know who you are or else, this world will trample on you, abuse you, until you become a shadow of yourself. You can only make an impact from the standpoint of originality, and originality comes from knowing who you are.
Q: What drives you?
A: Kindness. We need to be kind to one another. I have as core values: Respect, consideration and fairness. When you think of all these things, kindness is at the centre of it all. It’s kindness that would make me want to respect my fellow human being, show him/her consideration and be fair in my treatment to him/her, recognising that he or she also has the right to live. I must not trample on him/her because I want to satisfy my own desires. Kindness is top for me. It also endears me to people. Kindness made me veer into what I’m doing now as a Social Entrepreneur. I remember the days when I would charge reasonably for my services but now I’m seeing myself wanting to just help, so that the other human being is able to stand and feel better in himself/ herself.
Q: What is your short term goal for GWI?
A: My short term goal for GWI is to start up this arm which is called R.E.AL (Raising Exemplary African Ladies), our finishing school project. We had our first outing, first week in August, and that went very well. It was just for one week and the girls that attended learned so much that when they went to Solid FM and began to speak about the things they learned, tears poured down my face because I couldn’t believe that in one week, they had taken on so much. I want this up and running where people can enrol to learn what it means to be a high value woman.
Q: What’s your final word?
A: In everything you do, be true to who you are and to others. Try to operate from a position of love and trust God. Once your heart is right and once you want to give, creation always endows you with much more. Whatever it is you want to do, be true to who you are and be consistent. One day, you will reap the benefits of your hard work.