#COVIDPositiveStories – Tawakalit Kareem

Tawakalit Kareem is a young Nigerian woman and the founder of The Butterfly Project. This is her #COVIDPositiveStory. 


Before the Lagos State Government announced the two weeks lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic in the state, I knew I had to do something for vulnerable people who will be the hardest hit. I felt an urgency to be a part of the solution. 

On the 24th of March, I launched a campaign on Instagram and WhatsApp tagged; “1for1with5k”. The aim of the campaign is to encourage individuals who could afford five thousand naira (14 USD) to an individual/family who couldn’t. The idea was to create a thread of goodness. Soon after, some of my friends who don’t live in Nigeria asked if they could send money to support the initiative. After sharing to people who I knew were in need, there was still funds left and even more coming in. So, I reached out to a friend via Twitter DM who was doing something alike to collaborate and expand the initiative reach. 

In 10 days, we raised 1 million naira (2,778 USD) for 144 families. The project is a standalone project created as a response to the lockdown owing to the situation of coronavirus in Nigeria. It was very important to us that the funds raised got into the hands of people who were most in need of it. We focused on four impoverished communities in Makoko – Ori oke, Oko agbon waterside, Adogbo, Apollo; Mushin, and another community called Oke-Ira.

One of the beneficiaries is a single mother with five children who works as a cleaner in a local primary school with a monthly salary of five thousand naira (14 USD). Another is a woman with a three-year-old child, her husband has no job because of the economic crisis and her mom and her sister live with them. One other beneficiary is a roadside seller with a business capital of two thousand naira (6 USD). Every one of the 144 families have stories of lack and the lockdown would have made living unbearable for them.

This project has made me realize that there are still good people who want to give financially to support others, but they do not know whom to trust. I am inspired by how receptive people have been towards this initiative, many of them are strangers that I may never get to interact with if not for this project.  

Also, partnering with a friend helped to improve the scope of this project and I am so proud about how we went about supporting people together at this dire time. We leveraged on our individual strengths and networks to be able to serve others. 

There is a lot we can do with data in identifying people who really need help. It is important that the government make people-friendly decisions especially in times of crisis as we have seen with COVID19.