Tell us about yourself: My name is Deborah N'gozzi Lahai from Sierra Leone. In my Climate Justice work, first and foremost I advocate for climate-just responses to mining operations, environmental protection and the protection of human rights. I do this by 1) influencing relevant stakeholders, reviewing policies and laws that minimize the impact of climate change and hold duty bearers accountable for not enforcing laws and policies suitable to the protect mining communities. There is no doubt that mining operations are contributors to climate change as it produces good percentage of green house gas emissions globally, and therefore we advocate for the use of low-carbon technology to combat climate change effects. Also, I provide capacity building for rural communities on Human Rights, environmental protection and climate change. Furthermore, I take part in establishing an alliance of ecofeminist women to serve as a social movement pressure to defend community rights. Finally, I provide economic empowerment for rural communities members through Village Savings and Loan Scheme which enable them to engage in business for their livelihood support inorder to minimize the rate of embarking on livelihood activities that increases climate change effect (Such as burning coal and the use and sales of fire woods) which leads to climate change.
My motivation is my passion to serve humanity by caring for the poor, the less privileged and the marginalized in society with the little l have to share with them. Working with rural communities, seeing them smile, happy and feel like someone is always there to love and help them motivates me more to create an enabling environment where humans and animals feel safe.
What did you do with the JWH grant? I am Pursuing an M. Phil Masters program in Gender and Development at the University of Sierra Leone.
What will the leadership development program bring you? The program helps to improve my leadership and personal skills by learning how to effectively communicate, activate good human relationships, improve my patience level and tolerance towards people's attitudes, adapt to new places and resilience to new situations. Besides that, the leadership development plan has enabled me to acquire academic knowledge on environmental issues, gender issues, human rights, women empowerment, development, international policies/law adoption in national laws, French and health. I have being making tremendous progress in my studies ever since.
The program has also built my self esteem and confidence greatly beyond my imagination through the network and social interactions nationally and internationally. The program has given me hope to identify and pursue good opportunities to further my studies beyond masters level. I hope to graduate with an M. Phil Masters degree in 2024. The grant has opened doors to continuously building my capacity in all aspects which has given me platforms nationally and internationally to get more opportunities to help others. It will enable me to build network with like-minded organization and individuals. It will give me opportunity to create jobs for many unemployed youths in my country.
What is your dream? My dream is to acquire a PhD, set up my own organization that will provide employment for many people in my country, build skills training centers across the country and ultimately empower more women at all levels and build the potential of young people to transform society.