Meet Lanre Williams Ayedun, Partners for Development Board Member
When you are a young international student who has just discovered that your liberal arts undergraduate degree won’t feed you, life is very complicated. That was me, 12 years ago. I had just finished a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and realized that I was not employable. I desperately wanted to make a difference in the world, to help people. As naïve as that sounded, even to me, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do that without some tangible skills and a lot more experience under my belt. A friend suggested I apply for an internship at the company she worked for, Partners for Development. That was in 2005. Over the last 10 years, PfD has become an integral part of my life, career, and passion.
I started off in the often thankless job of being an intern—except at PfD it wasn’t thankless. Every day I felt that my work was meaningful, appreciated, and valued—whether I was doing desk review for a proposal, cleaning up data from our programs, or copy editing a report. I was given the opportunity to travel to field programs in Nigeria, Bosnia, and Cambodia; I presented on my travels to the Board of Trustees and got to give them my recommendations on possible next steps; I pulled all-nighters with PfD staff getting proposal documents submission-ready.
I was very excited in 2006 when I was able to lead a team of fellow graduate students to do a review of PfD’s integrated microfinance and reproductive health program in Nigeria. To this day, my friends and I still talk about the stories of the women that we met in rural villages, who told us what they had learned in their microcredit groups, and how the money they had jointly saved was making a brighter future a reality for their households. And I have countless other such stories from my work with PfD. I know, personally, that when we talk about the local impacts that PfD’s programs have—there are real people and real lives that have been pointed in a better direction because of PfD.
I went on to work at PfD headquarters for two more years before moving to another organization, but I stayed in touch, hoping I would find a sustained way to stay engaged with the organization. Three years ago I was invited to join the Board of Trustees, which I accepted with great pride.
There are many compelling reasons to support PfD—the programs are solid, the management is efficient, the impacts are real. But most of all, PfD believes in people—be they interns, local staff, or program beneficiaries; and in the end, that is the kind of organization that I want to be associated with. PfD made me the international development professional that I am. PfD trained me to do rigorous work that respects the people I am working for. PfD taught me how to enjoy working with a diverse group of people, and to invest in them. PfD showed me good development that empowers local communities and magnifies local solutions. PfD showed me what it means to see value in a young Nigerian girl who just wanted to make a difference in the world. #IamPfD
Throughout all of December we will be sharing stories from our staff, board, partners, and others from around the globe. We can’t wait to share all of the hopeful, engaging, and positive stories from our work. We will be using the hashtag #IamPfD on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Be sure to share the posts that you find engaging and inspiring with friends and family and don’t forget to donate and take an #unselfie of you making a donation and share it with us and use the #IamPfD for a chance to win prizes from PfD.