Edafe Okporo: A brave activist-turned-refugee advocating for marginalized groups
Edafe Okporo, 27, Nigeria
I’m Edafe Okporo, 27 years old and currently living in New York City as a refugee from Nigeria. I was persecuted due to my advocacy and activism for marginalized groups to have access to healthcare services in my home country.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Technology and a master’s in Nutrition.
I started my career as a community health educator, bridging knowledge gaps and delivering consistent and correct messaging on HIV/AIDS.
I gained full employment in 2014 as a program officer for the first community-based human rights organization in Nigeria providing HIV/Health messages and pro bono legal services to sexual minorities in rural communities, working to improve access to treatment for LGBT groups, female sex workers and injection drug users who are most at risk group for HIV infection.
According to statistics, Nigeria is a high-burden country for HIV so I worked to create messages centered on prevention as well as community awareness campaigns to help reduce the incidence rate of new infections and treatment for those afflicted by the disease.
In 2015, I applied for a grant from Global Fund that was awarded to my community organization back in Nigeria to provide HIV treatment access for minorities and vulnerable people who have no access to care in public hospitals due to stigma and discrimination against them.
I was then employed by Family Health International 360, a leading nonprofit human development organization dedicated to improving lives in lasting ways by advancing integrated, locally driven solutions. I was invited as a delegate to the world AIDS conference in Durban 2016 because of my zealousness and far reaching, community and grassroot campaigns.
My work was recognized by fellow community members and I was awarded The Omololu Falobi Award in 2016 alongside Excellence in HIV Prevention and Research and AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) during the HIVR4P conference in Chicago.
I now advocate for refugees who are detained in the United States. I’m currently organizing fundraising events to support two organizations that provide support to detained immigrants and I’m a member of the board of two organizations that support detained immigrants, First Friends New Jersey and New York and Queer Detainee Empowerment project (QDEP) in total support for refugees.
I aim to continue being a voice on behalf of minorities, the marginalized and vulnerable groups in our communities.
I’m looking forward to building relationships with young minds, integrating my work with other youths working toward social inclusion for all, leaving no one behind. I stand on the principle that together we can do much more.