Tell us about yourself?
My name is Ezinne Okey-Uchendu, I am the founder and Executive Director of Zinnok initiative for women and Children- a Nonprofit Organization that provides leadership in the area of programme management. I have 18+ years of progressive experience in public health policy, health planning, program design, community & social mobilization, resource mobilization and health systems strengthening.
I am an Emotional Intelligence Certified Professional, social worker, counselor and trainer. I also have a background in community development, an M.Sc. in Social work and health care from Ladoke-Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho, Oyo state Nigeria and a PHD in Medical Sociology in view. I have an extensive experience across private-for-profit, not-for-profit and public health sector.
I am an international speaker and has presented papers at many international conferences. In 2012, I founded Zinnok initiative for women and Children – an organization providing developmental services in the areas of health, education, empowerment and Community Development. Zinnok Initiative has a focus on addressing issues affecting poor community members with a special interest on Women and Children. I have also worked extensively with ministries of health and non-governmental organizations in the design and deployment of large-scale interventions for multi-sectorial HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, gender and human rights interventions.
I have routinely led initiatives for capacity-building, policy & guidelines development and quality improvement of services in Nigeria. I am a Member of the Nigerian Institute for Training and Development (NITAD) and also a Member of the Institute of Social Workers of Nigeria (ISWON). I have a proven track record for improving the living conditions of Nigerians focusing on poor community members and building strong relationships between them and the donors.
I have attracted many donors funded projects to over 30 communities in Nigeria.
Tell us about your organization, impacts, and achievements since establishment?
Zinnok Initiative for Women and Children is a Non-profit Organization founded in 2012 with head office located in Umuahia Abia State and field office in FCT, Abuja.
The Organization is founded by Mrs. Ezinne Okey-Uchendu to help in addressing challenges affecting poor community women and girls in Abia state. I discovered that women and girls were dying from preventable issues (HIV/AIDS, Child birth, malnutrition and gender /sexual violence). I started providing these services initially from personal funds but the number of women needing the services kept increasing and so, I started sourcing for support from friends and family.
In 2012 the organization was duly registered and was mainly funded by the board members then other well-meaning Nigerians supported. One year after, Zinnok was able to access a first grant from the US Embassy & have received many other grants since then. We are currently implementing developmental activities in the areas of Health including SRH/HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and free medical care), OVCprogramming, Education, community developmental projects and empowerment programmes.
We are making positive impact in the lives of over 1.8million Nigerians in 30 communities with financial and material support from United States Ambassador’s self-help project, Switzerland Embassy in Nigeria, Swiss Foundation of the International Social Services, comprehensive HIV/AIDS sites in Abia state, West African Network for the protection of children, Federal Ministry of Health through the National malaria programme and other Implementing Partners. Zinnok Initiative have attracted many donors funded projects and also raised over 138,000 USD in grant for other organizations in Nigeria.
What advice can you give to young people who want to build a career in the development sector?
My advice to them is that they should be focused, have a plan and follow the plan. Many young people come into development work by accident and see it as their means of survival. Working in this terrain requires patience, tenacity, passion for the work. For them to go far, they need to do things right(documentation, transparency and accountability are required).
They need to be mentored to do these things, so I also advice they get a mentor or volunteer their time in other organizations to enable them learn.
How has been your participation in the inner circle program or other programs prepared you for opportunities ahead?
My participation in the inner Circle programme has been very rewarding. I am happy to be a beneficiary of the Inner circle tem. I have been working in the development sector for some time but the last few months of being in the inner circle has brought tremendous changes to Zinnok Initiative for women and Children’s’ programmes. Not only have my capacity being built on critical aspects of development practices, my staff have learnt a whole lot from me since I joined.
Every programme of DFA has become a capacity building event for us as notes from all DFA trainings are used for presentations during our staff activities. Being in the inner circle has also helped me earn from knowledge I gained from the programme.
The networking and collaborations with other Inner circle members have been amazing, these are people that I have never met before even though we work in the same city.
I recommend DFA inner circle to all development workers despite your qualifications, you will be glad you attended.
Are there any ongoing projects your organization is working on at the moment? Please share it with us.
2020 has being a stimulating year due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Nothing prepared us for what has happened this year, most of our programmes couldn’t take off and others were halted .
Everyone was at home including the children we provide educational support for. Our recent programmes are focused on trainings on awareness/ Prevention strategies and other coping mechanisms for COVID 19.
We have also continued to provide food palliatives for women and children in resource limited settings we are working with.
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