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Frances Okoro: Reflections of an Ex-Corper On A Meaningful Service Year

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DSCN1271 Has it really been one year since I wrote the post on BellaNaija on my hopes for how NYSC should be? {Click here if you missed it}  Has it really been one year since my hopes were bashed in the comment section on them not being feasible as “NYSC usually ends up being a wasted year?”
But what can I say? The past one year has seen the dreams in my heart for my NYSC year come true.

I remember being so mad when people used to say that “NYSC is a waste of time”. Something in me simply refused to believe those lies and the truth I held on to saw me scaling through the year touching lives and hitting goals.

Ekiti State is a State where you see a 20 year old with three kids trailing her while she thinks that that is all there is to life. I had a burden to tell the young students that getting married and having children isn’t all there is to their life as God has a unique niche and purpose He has created them to fulfil  So I set out into different schools, speaking and counselling the young ones, inviting speakers to steer them unto the right academic path, inviting trainers to teach them basic skills, fielding questions on relationships from confused young hearts…

And as I did all that in six secondary schools this year, I saw myself in the young kids.
I saw the young girl I was 12 years ago. Why didn’t anybody take it upon themselves to let me know that I am beautiful? Worthy of a purpose? And good enough to do anything I set my heart to achieve?
Why did the corpers they posted to my secondary school do nothing of this sort in my school?
My heart ached for the past I missed and rejoiced for the opportunity to pour into the lives of others.
If there is anything I can look back fondly on during my service year, it was seeing the faces of the students, each shouting “Aunty when are you coming back?” And me saying “I will soon be passing out but here’s my number…”

I don’t think that there’s any greater joy to be gotten in life than walking in purpose and pouring out into lives God has placed in your path. It’s a joy that money cannot give to us. It’s a joy that the world cannot give to us. And as I walked round the schools, trekked sometimes, waited patiently for principals to show up sometimes… that joy continued to shine through my heart. And each time the seminars at the schools held and the students asked me “Aunty at what age should one have a boyfriend…”

I thanked God for the opportunity to indeed serve during this one year; to indeed lift my nation and my community high and steer young girls in the right direction. I stepped into NYSC year with an aim to pour out positively into lives and that aim was achieved.

As I stepped out into the real world on October 15th 2015, I promised to always remember this truth:
Wherever I go, whatever I do, nothing would ever satisfy me like walking in God’s purpose for my life will. And if that purpose entails teaching and guiding young ones into the right path… If that purpose entails trekking for long distances just to make plans for what I need to do… If that purpose entails me receiving no monetary compensation whatsoever… I will still do it.
Because my one year in NYSC has taught me that we weren’t created to get all we can… we were created to give out of ourselves, of our talents, of our resources… we were created to pour out and finally die empty. And in pouring out, we find ourselves being refilled.

for book(1)It’s been an awesome year in Ekiti State as a youth corper.
I have been bombarded with favour from left, right and centre.
From free bike rides, to free “iyan”, to free “fufu,” to kind smiles and willing helping hearts…
It’s been awesome.

And then there is the quest I went on to sight see and have adventures in this State.
I had awesome moments climbing hills, scaling mountains, singing in Fajuyi park while riding the kiddies swing, planning trips to waterfalls and greeting “era ma”.
But more than ever before, I know that what I wrote one year ago is still true today.
The only way one can leave NYSC with a full heart and a fulfilled year is to pour out into the lives God has placed on their paths.

Don’t think about the monetary compensation…
Don’t think about the State/Federal Government awards… just pour out into lives.
And when it’s time to go, you’d look back down the journey and be certain that the seeds you sowed in hearts will grow to become tall trees in the years to come.

DSCN1267Sow a great seed in the lives you come across.
It’s better than moping around, whiling away time while waiting for the year to come to an end.
If you would indeed make your NYSC year a year of purpose and service like I did, then I have no doubt that your heart will be full like mine when you leave.

My message as I step out of NYSC is the same as it was a year ago… the only difference is that I have lived out my belief and found it to be all the more true.
Sow the seeds. Make the mark in lives. Go out, sight see, travel around the state you’ve been posted to and find the beauty buried in it.

Live a life of purpose… and yes, you can do this even during your NYSC service year.

Hephzibah Frances is a child of God and a delight to her Father's heart. She is a Lawyer, author and social entrepreneur called to the nations.She is the founder of The Women At The Well a Christian women ministry based in Lagos.andAwakening Youthful Seeds For Christ Initiative a Non-Governmental Organisation focused on raising purposeful youths.She is currently the author of four books including the best-selling book PRAYERS FOR YOUR FUTURE HUSBAND. Get all her books here here And get her latest fiction book - "ENIOLA" for abused womenhereWanna know what to do while you are single? Join the "21 DAYS PRAYERS FOR YOUR FUTURE HUSBAND PRAISE AND PRAYER CHALLENGE GOING ON RIGHT NOW! "here Join up the challenge on her Instagram channel @HephzibahFrancesEmail her at [email protected] in touch with her: On Facebook: HephzibahFrancesOn twitter @Hephzibahfran/On instagram @hephzibahfrancesWatch her videos on her Youtube Channel at - FrancesOkoroVisit her website at www.hephzibahfrances.com

45 Comments

  1. Delali

    October 18, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Wow! !!such am interesting piece. Thank you Frances for sharing. You have given me a sort of encouragement even as I step into my NYSC year pretty soon. I hope I am able to impact positive values in the lives of those I meet during my service year.

    • Frances Okoro

      October 18, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      Hey Delali… have an awesome service year!
      Hope and follow through on your hopes..it gets challenging but it’s doable… you’ll look back and smile at the year gone by if you stick with it all.
      Wish you the bestest..

  2. Berry Dakara

    October 18, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Congratulations on passing out Frances, and not allowing negative comments influence or overshadow your hopes and dreams. You’re such an inspiration and I know those students were lucky to have you in their lives. God bless and keep it waaaaay up!

    • Frances Okoro

      October 18, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      Awww Berry!
      Thank you!
      Thank you!

    • mrs chidukane

      October 18, 2015 at 7:03 pm

      OmGee, Berry Dakara *dancing Kara Kara sister tombo!* I’m so happy you Frances, well-done. All the best in your future endeavors.

  3. Suwa

    October 18, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    God bless you dear.

  4. Manny

    October 18, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Bravo Frances. I was just thinking about NYSC yesterday and wishing I could turn back the hands of time. I wouldn’t have served in Lagos. I would have loved to serve in a rural area and make a difference in some young lives.

    • Frances Okoro

      October 18, 2015 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Manny…
      Thank God you still have NOW, you can still make a difference in lives and do what’s in your heart and impact your world positively
      You have now still… go ahead and make a difference.

  5. chee

    October 18, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    Aww frances,this is sooo swwet of u!

  6. Frances Okoro

    October 18, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Amin Suwa!

  7. Strit Kredibility

    October 18, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Ha, NYSC uniform don upgrade o. The one they gave me almost marred my service year. The white vest looked like what an Obioma was hurriedly commissioned to sew. The white material was almost identical to what Iya Ronke, our hardworking neigbour uses to sieve the Ogi she sells. The printing left much to be desired as the NYSC logo looked as if it grew legs and strolled a few inches from the center of the shirt. After one wash, it bore witness to what KLIN detergent did to it. It shrunk in such a way that the back side became lengthier than the front taking a funny shape that we had to call it our own TM Lewin shirt. The trouser, that one na another day story. The sewer of that trouser should be summoned by the senate to explain how manage? The boot and face cap reduces confidence rather than add to it.

    Frances well done, we are inspired. But Looking at that your trouser one more time made me to remember, Folashade, my Folashade. She and I shared one trouser when my own went missing and it was fun and love while it lasted. What camp joined together, somehow reality came and put asunder. Frances Kudos

    • Frances Okoro

      October 19, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      Strit Kredilibility…
      Loooooll. My dear this their uniform na one of the highest “designer order”.
      I refused to slim fit mine in camp and the thing eh, na waya.
      Even that pishre sef, na belt hold the waist..
      The vest one has to be careful with it and use sense was am.
      Hehe…nysc..

  8. ozzy

    October 18, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Oh..it’s Frances. Wonderful lady! I remember you speaking to us @NIFES sister’s conference. I remember your story & how you inspired us with your words. I’m so watching out for you, God continue to work in & through you.

    • Frances Okoro

      October 19, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Hi Ozzy…
      Wonderful! you were at PTI too?
      Did we meet personally?

      Thank you so much..simply glad for the opportunity to pour into lives.
      God grace us all as we walk in purpose…

  9. Dr. N

    October 18, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Corper shun! Reminds me of my days in an ogoni village. They still call though it’s been over 7 years. Good one!

    • Frances Okoro

      October 19, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      Wow! Even after seven years, that’s some serious keeping the link alive Dr N…
      I imagine it makes your heart sing when you get the calls…that’s my aim too. it’s just..a joy..

  10. hmmm

    October 18, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    You can only become great when you hear the cry of those in need. God bless you so much for giving during your service year, while others may have been complaining.

    • Frances Okoro

      October 19, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Thank you hmm. Amen and amen

  11. molarah

    October 18, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Big ups to you, and congratulations on the completion of your service year.

    One major takeaway from your experience – that I hope those embarking on the NYSC will take into consideration – is that it’s helpful to have an agenda/goal of what impact you wish to make in the community you spend the next one year of your life in. For you it was mentoring youths, some other worthy causes are health literacy, maternal and child health, environmental awareness, entrepreneurship or skills development, nutrition, hygiene… the list is actually endless. The CDS arm of the NYSC scheme is a great opportunity to put these goals into action and meaningfully impact lives. I know so because I was able to conduct a beneficial project during my service year in Oyo state for 10 public secondary schools.

    And by the way, the greeting is ‘e ro ra, ma’, not ‘era ma’ (lol). Great job!

    • Frances Okoro

      October 19, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      Hehe Molarah, I never could do their greeting/language well oh. It did/does sound like “era ma” in my ears.lol.

      And yes, the list is endless on what to do to impact lives during nysc.
      Setting the goals and achieving them is very necessary. If one goes in with a “whatever approach”, you get whatever” at the end of it all.
      Go purposefully with set goals and pursue them. That’s the aim.

      And more grease to your elbow.
      Hope your work at schools didn’t stop at nysc? It improved and became more/you still do it?
      We need people like you…

  12. Femfem

    October 18, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    Wow France’s. This is amazing, your u have a wonderful heart, I can feel the joy emanating from you through my device?. I’ve gotta say well done for going out there and making a difference in young girls lives. I pray everything you have done changes their lives in a very positive way. You are a true feminist .

    I hope to be able to do something like this on a very real level one day. I look at young girls and I see so much potential but youth is wasted on the young, most of the time they can’t see the wood from the trees. They need some very real guidance from people who have gone through it all and knows how they truly feel

    • Frances Okoro

      October 19, 2015 at 12:35 pm

      Femfem thank yoouuuu!
      Please go all out with what’s on your heart to do for youths..if the burden’s on your heart, relieve it…

  13. PurpleiciousBabe

    October 18, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    I like it.
    I like purpose filled lives. Welldone!

    • Frances Okoro

      October 19, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Thank you Purpleicious babe..there’s no other way to live but to live purposefully..even NYSC stuff aside

  14. Asa!

    October 18, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    This is great! NYSC wasnt a wasted year for me either. Thumbs up girl. you’re gonna go places. keep touching lives!

  15. Nellie

    October 18, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    When i tell people to go to rural areas they snob at me. My NYSC motto was: “go to the small pond and be a big fish, take the confidence to the big pond and compete fiercely.” I was recognized as a hardworking corp member, it kind of gave me an upper hand to land my first job.

    • Frances Okoro

      October 19, 2015 at 12:32 pm

      Niiiice Nellie!
      Not everything “big big place”.
      Sometimes chill wherever you are and make an impact…

  16. Delali

    October 18, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    Thank you very much! !!!!!! I look forward to giving you an awesome feedback .

  17. Ebuka

    October 18, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    NYSC IS RUBBISH.. EVERYONNE GO AND SLEEP. THIS CHILDREN AS U ARE TALKING TO THE LEFT EAR IT IS COMING OUT FROM THE RIGHT EAR….

    • Frances Okoro

      October 19, 2015 at 12:32 pm

      Sorry about your experience Ebuka(i presume that’s why you are talking like this?)
      Words are powerful, that’s what I believe and they will come up in the kids hearts when they need them..thats my prayer/belief…

  18. Dee

    October 19, 2015 at 7:08 am

    I am so glad to read this positive report about the NYSC. I always say a bit of every successful program is hype- we need to talk more about the good parts of NYSC, so more people have, or plan, something to look forward to.

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    • Frances Okoro

      October 19, 2015 at 12:31 pm

      Yes Dee, hopefully, people who read this decide to go into NYSC purposefully…

  19. Tosin

    October 19, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Ekiti kete!
    My NYSC was a giant blessing. So glad.

    • Frances Okoro

      October 19, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      Hehe Ekiti Kete! You sabi am Tosin…
      Are you from Ekiti or served there?

  20. Teawine Penner

    October 19, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Congrats on your NYSC completion, Frances!
    Glad you used the time productively!
    The whole structure of the programme can be way better, buh instead of whining abt it, only if many wld spend it adding value to the communities they find themselves.
    After the programme, it cld b very difficult to find such time in d real world!
    Greater heights, dear! :* :*

  21. The Bull

    October 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Congratulations on your passing out, i loved your article, touching many lives positively, in anyway possible, is always a beautiful thing..

    • Frances Okoro

      October 19, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      Thank you the Bull…

      And @Teawine penner..time to do this isn’t always there in the real world but I hope to not let the vision die. So help me God

  22. nunulicious

    October 19, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    I remember one corps member that organised a business enterprise seminar during my time. We were put in groups and had the choice of learning photography, bead making, video production or soap making. Ah, my life was never the same after that. it was the skill I chose that came in handy during my own university years and it did help to defray the cost of school. I made some cool cash mehn!
    God bless that NYSC girl and her friends even though I can’t even recollect her name now lol.

    • Frances Okoro

      October 20, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      Nunuliciious… this! the prayers..name or not, it will meet her when she needs it. Awesome

  23. Amina

    October 20, 2015 at 11:35 am

    This is so wonderful to read, it is so encouraging to know that there are people like you. Hopefully when I go for my service, I can positively impact the lives of youth in the state. Thank you for sharing

    • Frances Okoro

      October 20, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      You will Amina..your heart yearns to do so already, that’s the first, now follow through when you get there.
      Wish you the bestest…!

  24. pamela mbata

    November 9, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    All nice..what an inspiring young woman you are Frances. Keep the light burning diligently and sure you won’t stand before mean men. Loves to you dear.

  25. ISAAC KALU

    November 25, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Inspiring piece!
    You just reminded me of my NYSC dayz, 6 years ago. I served in Adamawa state where i inspired some Primary school pupils to greatness. I’m glad my name was written in GOLD in the heart of the children. The ones i still keep in touch with are doing very well academically. It gives me joy to have been able to groom someone that won Cowbel Maths competition, and ended up representing Adamawa State in Abuja. I was elated when my student called me to break the news that he’ll be going to Russia on Scholarship to study Chemical Engineering. I felt a surge of excitement when my student text me his WAEC result, and he happened to get 7 A’s.
    Keep up the good work!
    Nothing gives greater joy than impacting positively into a life.

  26. Flora

    June 5, 2016 at 8:26 am

    If all youth can think like Frances, Nigeria will sure be better in the future. My service yr was also impactful as I still receive calls from my place of primary assignment since 2010. The orientation of the Nig youths needs to change. Think productively and learn to see opportunities in every adversity.

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