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By Alexandra Bazuaye

Fondly called “Carpenter Obirin” (female carpenter) by her family, Atolani Ayodeji was determined to succeed in life irrespective of the hardship life threw on her. The apple of her father’s eyes, Atolani thought life was over for her when she lost her dad. For her, the late Alabi Ayodeji was not just her father, he was her teacher, friend, confidante – he was her world.

Carpenter Obirin - The Lady Carpenter

Growing up in a close knit family of four, Atolani attended her primary and secondary education in Lagos. Finding a suitable tertiary institution that provided her choice of course and suited her budget, led her to attend a polytechnic in Ogun State, but financial constraints prevented her from going beyond getting an OND.

A visit to her friend Deborah proved very rewarding as she got the opportunity to hear of the Freedom Empowerment Project.

Freedom Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to addressing socio-economic challenges in our society through education and empowerment of individuals.

Atolani took advantage of the Freedom Empowerment Project which is targeted at youths. The project aims to train young men and women through vocational skills acquisition and employability to enable them start various businesses as well as increase their employability level.

The 2017 Freedom Empowerment Project funded by ACT Foundation is beneficial to over 200 youths in the Surulere Local Government Area of Lagos and teaches a range of skills include: hair dressing, make-up, accessory and bead making, carpentry, driving etc.

Atolani explained that the life skills session was great and was instrumental in providing her with best business practices. “From the life skills class I learnt a lot about business, record keeping, managing people and income, customer relations and even patience,” Atolani said.

When it came to choosing a skill set to learn, Atolani had initially opted for bead making and make-up, however meeting Mrs. Oluwatoyin George, a female carpenter and owner of Design City was mind juggling and she decided to venture into this male dominated field of carpentry.

Atolani

“I have learnt a lot during my time here and I have joined the team here in producing beautiful stools where I exclusively handled filing the stool legs and putting finishing touches to produce the beautiful end product we all love,” the excited Atolani said.

“I can’t wait to learn so much more here and I am sure that carpentry is for me and I am in this business to stay”.

On what her family thinks of her delving into carpentry, Atolani said “My mother is so excited that I am a carpenter because her late father was a furniture maker. My grand-mother, sister, friends, everyone is excited about my choice of specialization and call me “carpenter obirin”.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Freedom empowerment project and I know my dad is smiling down at me from Heaven,” Atolani added.

Freedom Foundation is one of the 22 successful organizations selected to be awarded with the 2017 ACT Foundation Grant.

Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation is a grant making non-profit established to support local, national and regional non-profits working to address challenges and associated vulnerabilities in the African continent.

Watch Atolani at work in the video below:

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