Esana Ilori is an activist and a full time mum for two boys - Joshua (8) and Jonathan (2). She previously worked with children and families living with HIV and was part of the first Bootcamp cohort. She spoke to Casper ter Kuile about combining parenting and social change work.
CtK: How has campaigning changed for you since becoming a mum?
EI: In so many ways! I can relate so much better to certain issues, especially any campaigns that have to do with kids. I feel much more aware of issues that face families, and I definitely feel much more empathy towards others generally. One example is the abduction of the girls in Nigeria – it suddenly felt so much closer to home than something like that would have before I had my kids.
CtK: What top tips do you have for making campaigning more parent-friendly?
EI: Definitely offer child-care services at meetings and events. Having a crèche is a really great idea. But don’t just park the kids elsewhere – get them involved! I love being able to teach my kids and encourage their inner activist! My youngest has already appeared in his first campaign video – it’s never too young to start teaching them that they can make a difference.
CtK: I love that idea of involving kids!
EI: It’s amazing what they can do. There were plans to build a Tesco in a park right outside Joshua’s school, and he led a campaign against it in his primary school and got onto the school council! I think we often underestimate what kids are capable of doing as campaigners.
CtK: How have you been able to instill this kind of attitude at such a young age?
EI: My husband and I have both worked in social change work for a while. He’s a youth worker and is always speaking up for others. Church is also an important part of our lives. It helps remind all of us that the world doesn’t revolve around us as individuals but is about helping other people.
The funny thing is, when I started volunteering I thought I was helping others, but I realise now that being there for others is profoundly moving for me. Simple acts of kindness can make such a difference, and I think my kids probably pick up on that.
CtK: Thanks for sharing your insights Esana!