Richard Ndukwe is a final year student of mass communication, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka and the brain behind the Rich Mind Foundation an idea he nurtured from his days in secondary school. Rich Mind Foundation is known for their programme, 'My Identity', a programme organised to prepare newly admitted students for their journey through the university, giving them enough motivation to last them for their four years in school. The foundation recently started the 'Every Child is Important' campaign aimed at getting children off the streets. Lined up for this year are two other programmes coming from this Foundation, 'Ladies on Top' and 'Gifted Voices' and the launch of Rich Mind Group set to help youths fund their ideas. In this exclusive interview, you would know what inspires Mr. Ndukwe and how he has been holding up running the foundation regardless of his not being one of the millionaires' children. Take the ride....
What is Rich Mind Foundation about? : Rich Mind Foundation was actually an idea I nurtured during my secondary school days. Then I saw myself as someone that can impact on my fellow students. I was influenced by circumstances surrounding my birth, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon. But, I did get favour from a lot of people. Then, I had this particular man who took interest in me and he would always help me with almost everything that I needed. So at a point I paused to think about how I still have my way around life despite the economic situation of my family. I saw life as beautiful and if life would be that beautiful to me regardless of my back-ground, I decided to reach out to other people. I started nurturing the idea, watering it, it was like a seed sown and planted inside of me that I watered. So, then in secondary school, I called some of my friends and shared the idea with them. They bought into the idea. Then, we started as a debate club. We organised debates, gave out exercise books to students. The idea then was to reach out to students with the little we had. Debate was the only platform we had then. Then, we would pull some money together and get text books, exercise books, pens and give out to other students. As time went on, we were done with secondary school and some continued with their university education, others went into business, and that's how I found myself in the university. Before the university journey, I sought for admission and it didn't work out. I waited for like five years. Within the five years, I was working. But, the funny part was that I used my salary in paying people's school fees. I remember vividly that I went to Bishop Onyemelukwe Secondary School, Onitsha and gave some students scholarship through their Junior Secondary School, that was the much I could finance then. I also did give people scholarship through their primary school. When I finally got admission, I wondered who I would fund my schooling cos I had given out every thing that I had and worked for. Surprisingly, the company I worked for, helped me put up some money when I informed them about my admission, even though they were surprised. The money they gave me would have been enough to finance two people through a federal University in Nigeria. When I got the money, I couldn't just start spending the money. I had to use some, to build the foundation and put things in place. We launched our first magazine. We didn't have much sponsorship then, so I had to use the money. As time went on, people started developing interest, considering what we have done. After, my diploma programme, we had our first public lecture which had Engr. Chidiebere Nwagbo as the key note speaker under the chairmanship of Mr. Henry Nwansike, the then NUJ chairman. After that, we started going for community service, we paid visits to motherless homes. There's no success without challenges and ours was financial challenges,as we do not have a regular source of income, so we started to task ourselves. That, didn't work. We went on to tell people what we are into, what we stand for and all we intend to do. We met Lecturers, H.O.Ds, sharing our visions with them, we got some who were interested and who later got inaugurated as our patrons and matrons. We have Prof. Ogo Ibeneme, Director of Sandwich NAU; Ven. Clement Mgbemena; Lady Ify Obi, station manager, Unizik fm. Bringing these people together, make our works easier, they pave way for us. We also went back to our drawing board and we came up with other ideas and that's how 'My Identity' came about. We also have other programmes, 'Gifted Voice', 'Every Child is Important' and 'Ladies on Top'. 'My Identity' so far has been a success and the other programmes would be rolled out soon. According to Napoleon Hill, 'A successful man is one who is consistent with whatever he does'. We are successful having done 'My Identity' for three years. We have also done 'Every Child is Important', we collaborated with Hope Hospital, it was a community service based programme. After the programme, we paid a visit to motherless babies homes. We are working on the other two programmes.
What has it been like running 'My Identity' for three years now? : The very first year we had 'My Identity' programme, it was like something unrealistic. The people I discussed the details of the programme with advised me against it. But, my kind of person hardly get discouraged when I am out to do something and that was the spirit I took into planning the programme. Considering the fear of the programme being successful, we came up with the idea of giving out twenty free dictionaries to the people that would come before 9am, the time slated for the programme. The idea was to attract people and we had over fifty people who came before 9am. For the second 'My Identity', we increased the free dictionaries to hundred and we had over a hundred people who attended before 9am, and for the last one, we increased the free dictionaries to two hundred and still over two hundred people attended before 9am. It's a working principle, we adopted it and we are making use of it. Most times, people question on how we get our funding, it's not really something we do by ourselves, our ideas make money for us. We write to companies, they pick interest, they want to know what the programme is all about. The first 'My Identity' was solely sponsored by the members of the organisation and the second solely by Diamond Bank and the third, we had many sponsors like Royal construction company, Apple studio, ABS, God is good motors. These people came together to make the programme a success. R. C. C awarded scholarship to fifty students. A lot of questions came up concerning how we got them involved. What I have to say is that it is not by my making, my idea attracted it. We are not a profit making body, we are out for humanitarian service. I was so happy that the dream is coming to fulfillment, there's nothing as good as seeing yourself achieve a set goal. I'm grateful to God that it happened and students were happy about it.
How have you managed to finance yourself through school till this moment considering your financial situation at home? : I have this unmerited favour from people. I have never actually lacked. God has been faithful. There's this Bible passage that says that God would work on our vineyard if we work on his. I work for God by reaching out to people and God pays me back by one means or the other. I remember one of my session in school, that someone paid my school fees without my knowing that he did. I only got to know few days to the exam when the person gave me my print out and teller. Since I started this programme, I have received a lot of gifts and which I even give out sometimes. After the first 'My Identity' programme, I got a new laptop from the then CBN Governor, Awka branch, I gave out the laptop to someone who needed it more. I got another one from a family friend, Chukwuma Mgbemena, I gave that out and received yet another one from a cousin. It has been awesome. Financial help from distant family members have been able to sustain me. I am content and I believe tomorrow would be better.
What are the ideas behind other programmes of the Rich Mind Foundation (R. M. F)? : Every Child is Important is aimed at removing children from the street. We have watched children born with silver spoon enjoy their lifes because of what their parents can provide. Then, we see other children in the dustbin, picking things (hisses). These children are also important. They as well can enjoy what the other children from richer homes enjoy. So, we started the programme, trying to reach out to these children, encourage their parents through scholarship, clothing, assist them in getting these children out from the street. That's what brought about 'Every Child is Important'. 'Ladies on Top' is meant to hold for the first time by February. We already have selected speakers, gotten our venue, publicity would soon kick off. The programme is to give women proper orientation of who they are, we want to help them develop self identity, self realisation, give them a positive knowledge about themselves and let them know what they can achieve as ladies. We are not raising feminists, but we want ladies to see themselves positively. Many ladies have this mindset of being created to be under a man, a man caring for them and doing everything for them, we are saying that women should learn how to also do these things by themselves. 'Gifted Voices' is meant to promote gospel music. Music is life, music is inspirational, people through music can key into their destiny. We intend to promote gospel music through the programme.
What are the plans for R. M. F after school? : We have Board of Trustees, we have members and we are also reaching out to other higher institutions. We have students from UNN, ANSU, UNIBEN showing interest to be part of the foundation. So, when I finish school, others would continue with the work in UNIZIK, while I trip to other universities in Nigeria to raise members. Rich Mind Foundation is coming up with Rich Mind Group, presently, we are working on our registration with Coperate Affairs Commission. Rich Mind Group would be a group of companies, we are inviting young people, young graduates to come and partner with us. It would be an umbrella group that would have different branches, we are into schools, filming, studio, a lot of branches will be birthed under the Rich Mind Group. At Rich Mind Group, we would help youths with ideas but with little resources get more resources to fund their business and yield profit. We are already working on this and would be launching by the middle of 2016. We encourage youths to register with us.
Advice to other youths : I don't like associating with lazy people. If you are lazy in Nigeria full of opportunities, it's just better you are dead. My advice is that youths should attach themselves to positivity, they should give birth to positive ideas and work towards them with determination and every sincerity. Their dreams should be plain and nothing fishy attached to it, so that people can buy into it. Nigeria is very fertile.
Contact Rich Mind Foundation via :
Email : Richmindfoundation2008@gmail.com
Mobile : +2348029233470