A Nigerian born Ennis campaigner has reminded Ireland’s MEPs to maintain their promise of fighting poverty.
Ifunaya Nwaudoh is the Clare Youth Ambassador with ONE, a global movement campaigning to end extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030, so that everyone, everywhere can lead a life of dignity and opportunity.
Before the European elections in May, she canvassed Irish candidates to ensure the European Union upheld its promise to fight extreme poverty. Across the continent, 85% of candidates were supportive of the pledge. Co-founded by Bono, ONE has to date secured €33.2bn for “historic health initiatives” including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
Twenty four year old Ifunaya has lived in Ennis since the end of last summer. Her first awareness of ONE came during the Nigerian Presidential Election. “For a very long time, we had really old Presidents, with age comes experience and wisdom we know that but we just wanted change so One started this campaign ‘vote for the future’ to put our voice out there and be involved to let the candidates recognise that what we need should also be considered”.
“We’ve done a lot of work in countries like Ghana, Senegal, I won’t say we had one big achievement, there is one of many because it’s a fight against poverty and advocating for health. What we do in the more developed countries is trying through them to help the others. So many people have different problems and we can never stop helping”.
She graduated from Babcock University with a degree in international diplomacy. From there, Ifunaya pursued a masters at the University of Limerick in peace and development studies. “I didn’t initially plan to come to Ireland, somehow I found myself here and there was an opportunity to become an ambassador, I may not be back at home but I still can make a difference”.
Her sister, Nkeiruka is a psychiatry registrar with the HSE in Ennis. The youngest of five children, Ifunaya has developed a fondness for Co Clare. “I love Ireland. I didn’t think I was going to at first. I don’t like the cold and was putting me off when I applied. My sister would always complain of the cold, she’s here longer than me and she’s still giving out about it. It is cold but it just felt really different, it took a while to adjust. There is something the cold does to your skin”.
As a young child, it was the afternoons after Sunday service giving out old clothes belonging to the Nwaudhohs to families less well off or foodstuff that sparked influenced Ifunaya’s career path of wanting to give back. “We were low middle class, I knew what it felt like not being able to go to school some days, sometimes my parents would say ‘you’re not going to school today’, I obviously knew why but I couldn’t do anything about it. I saw how my parents struggled, they really wanted to do their best and make sure I could get to do what I wanted. Some people don’t have any family or people there to support them and are not able to help themselves, being able to have that and know something I can do could help somebody else to have what I had. I know I wouldn’t be here only for my parents, having five children in that time was a really difficult struggle”.
Being an ambassador with ONE is a voluntary role as have been her contributions to the Irish Red Cross and Clare Care. She sees herself staying in the Banner County for a further two years, provided she can secure employment. The overriding aim for Ifunaya is to use her education to help others, “The whole point of following my education was to improve myself, my knowledge, my skills and to be able to continue with a career plan”.
“The next step is to put what I have learned into practice, be a part of an organisation that is making a difference out there. No more furthering of education, I have learned enough in terms of this sphere, I just need to be able to go out and do what I can do, you learn from being in situations”.