Introducing Our SSDP Africa Orientation Training

Written by Ruby Rose Lawlor ‘19, SSDP Global Programs Intern 

In August this year, we began the process of creating this new member training specific to the SSDP African Network to finally meet the requests and needs of our members in this region. SSDP’s African Network is a robust, inspiring, and incredibly active community that have made changes across the continent. SSDP International understands that there are cultural differences in every country and region worldwide, and until now, has been struggling to provide trainings, resources, and adequate outreach to meet those specific contexts. It had been identified by our members in this region that to ensure everyone was operating effectively under the common goal of promoting the rights and health of people who use drugs and advocating for an end to punitive approaches to drug use that a training should be created tailored to the cultural contexts of this region. Knowledge about means of advocacy, effective communication, messaging, and outreach have too long been assumed as basic knowledge worldwide, undermining the contexts of some countries in which civil society advocacy is not as common and often people are not guided on how to approach the controversial topics of drug policy reform and harm reduction amongst their peers, communities, and religious and cultural leaders. 

We were determined to create a training that consisted of content that our members in the African Network informed us that they wish had received when they joined, and filled gaps that they have identified within their own chapters. We had weekly discussions with members from the Network that were willing to discuss what this content should be, building the content, editing it and adjusting accordingly. During this process, 5 individuals consistently gave key input and suggestions for this training. These 5 individuals then became our Facilitators Team. 

Our Facilitators Team consists of: Julius Droma Nyanda ‘19 from Uganda, Evelyn Aba Eduful ‘17 from Ghana, Isaac Ogunkola Olushola ‘19, Precious Chinenye Muogbo, and Maimuna Suleiman Muhammad ‘19 from Nigeria. This team of 5 hard-working and inspiring individuals has been working for months to ensure this training is the best it can be, and has created this training to not just meet the needs of new members to the network, but to meet the needs of older members as well. 

This training consists of 3 sessions, all of which must be attended, and a workbook that must be completed to graduate from the training to become a Certified SSDP Africa Member! The training will run on a monthly basis to begin, with the 3 sessions taking place in 1 week. Session 1 is titled ‘SSDP Basics’ and is an introduction to SSDP, an explanation of its missions and values, how it is organized, and the kind of activities, campaigns and events that SSDP conducts. This session will also explain how the SSDP Africa Network is organized and the Network’s history, who the main points of contact are in the Network, and the campaigns, events, and activities that the Network and individual chapters take part in. Session 2 is titled ‘Giving Context: SDG’s and the War on Drugs’ and will give context to the information given in the first session, with an explanation of how SSDP’s mission and vision are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, and where the War on Drugs came from, explaining the ‘why’ to the mission and vision of SSDP. Session 3 is titled ‘Advocacy and Outreach’ and will explain the concepts of advocacy and outreach, how they differ, and how they link. It will provide the necessary tools to carry out advocacy on campus, in communities, and to target key stakeholders in the country, as well as tips on how to conduct outreach to PWUD (people who use drugs), communities, organizations they wish to partner with, politicians, religious leaders, and other key relevant stakeholders and agencies.

We recommend that all our SSDP Africa members take this training, but we will prioritize members that have joined within the past year first. On completion of this training, you will receive a physical certificate and will be added to a Facebook Group of graduates. 

So, how do you sign up?

You can sign up via this link. Please fill out this form and you will be contacted with a link to the training. If it is full for this month, you will be added to the waiting list. 

The first training session will be taking place during the week of the 7th December to 11th December, on the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of that week at 4pm GMT. 

Who are our facilitators?

Julius Droma Nyanda ‘19

Julius Nyanda is the Chapter Leader of SSDP Uganda, which he set up in 2019. He is currently studying for a Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery. He is a global health enthusiast, with a keen interest in community transformation, advocacy, research and innovations. Julius believes that PWUD are entitled to the highest attainable standard of health through harm reduction and an equity of access to these services. 

Evelyn Aba Eduful ‘17

Evelyn Aba Eduful is currently the National Secretary of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Ghana, and has been a member since its inception in 2017. She is a professional teacher who is enthusiastic about the well-being of young people and is often involved with students advocacy projects. Evelyn is passionate about drug policy reforms, rooted in public health and human rights that support the well-being of youth. She also supports harm reduction strategies that can improve the lives of people who use drugs. Evelyn is also a member of Candle Light Global Community (CNG Hope Community), which is a mental health advocacy group in Ghana, supporting individuals suffering with anxiety and depression. She is also currently a Masters of Arts in Education candidate at University of Ghana. Evelyn’s philosophy in life is “Impossible is nothing”, and she is excited for this new role with the expectation to meet new people from various places, share the African story and learn from others!

Isaac Ogunkola Olushola ‘19

Isaac Ogunkola Olushola is an Ambassador of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in the UK, an Ambassador of Tobacco Harm Reduction in Nigeria, and the Pioneer President of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at the University of Calabar in Nigeria. He is also the Communication Lead at Nigeria Youth Sustainable Development Goals Network Cross River State where he coordinates and manages the internal and external communications team. He is also the Communications Lead at TFT Foundation where he coordinates fundraising activities to cater for street kids through his content creation and storytelling skills. He is a skilled graphic designer also, and this month, he won the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) poster competition for International Drug User Day. Isaac also was recently shortlisted among 5 global finalists for the “Student of the Year” award by Antibiotic Guardian Shared Learning Awards developed by Public Health England (PHE) for his project on antimicrobial resistance. He is an early career researcher at Global Health Focus Africa, with a number of publications in reputable international peer-reviewed journals. Isaac is excited to be a facilitator for this new Orientation Training as he looks forward to discussing topics like harm reduction, drug prohibition, and sensible policies in the African way.

Precious Chinenye Muogbo

Precious Chinenye Muogbo is a driven individual with a passion for open drug policy advocacy, brand storytelling and activism against all forms of social injustice. She grew from volunteering with SSDP Nigeria to taking up the position of a campus coordinator, to becoming the communications director for SSDP Nigeria. She also works with Students for Liberty as a Campaign Coordinator for the ‘End The Drug War’ Global Campaign. She strives to create a society where compassionate and evidence-based policies empower drug users in Africa to attain the highest quality of life that exists without any form of disservice pulling them down.

Maimuna Suleiman Muhammad ‘19

Maimuna Suleiman Muhammad is a final year Pharmacy student at Ahmadu Bello University, in Zaria, Nigeria. She is passionate about good leadership and change making, and is an enthusiast of drugs, drug use, and drug policies. Maimuna loves connecting with like minded people and leaders and enjoys travelling. She has been involved in SSDP since 2019, when she was the Pioneer Vice-President and has been actively involved since. She is the current president of her chapter at Zaria and has held some interesting advocacy around the discrimination of people who use drugs, and was selected for the United Nations Millennium Fellowship Class of 2020 with the SSDP project. She is excited for this Orientation Training as it is the first of its kind in Africa. This training will provide new members with knowledge about SSDP and what they will contribute to global development, as well as boost their morale.