Meet Dobijoki Emanuela, a social service worker, learner, educator, personal development mentor, and creator of the Vital Vibes App.
Vital Vibes App is a personal development, wellness, and independent learning tool for Black and racialized youth and young adults who are seeking resources, services, and community.
Growing up, what attracted you to social service work?
I was raised in a household of activists, so being of service to others was what I was taught growing up. My family fled Sudan to Egypt in the late 80’s/early 90’s due to civil war. My dad has always been vocal about social justice and my mother taught us about our Indigenous African identity. When my family moved to Canada we lived in a priority neighbourhood in London, Ontario where we were exposed to different cultures, racial identities and faiths. Although we were so diverse, we also had many similarities; one of them was being low income and trying to live a better life.
In the 7th grade we had a new Community Service Worker begin working in our neighbourhood who emphasised the importance of taking care of our community and each other. The combination of my parents’ guidance plus the powerful relationship I built with my community led me to wanting to serve others in the same way.
From your website: “For me travelling and reaching my destination is a metaphor for growth.” Do you have any “journeys” (physical, mental, and emotional) in your life that stand out more than others?
I am very appreciative to have been taught at a young age that many journeys are everlasting, we just experience different stages as our life goes on. When I reach a destination, it is really reaching a stage and being aware and intentional about the process. One of the most challenging journeys that I am currently pursuing is my doctoral studies. I had a very challenging experience in the public school system which caused me to doubt my knowledge and capacity as a student. There were a number of experiences where educators would either tell me or elude the fact that I was not smart or that I was incapable. Due to this I convinced myself that higher education was not for me. Although I mentally convinced myself that I would not pursue education past high school, I was privileged enough to have mentors and guides who reminded me of my strength, my intelligence, and my creativity. This reassurance was reflective of what I felt in my heart, that I want to continue to learn so that I can teach others. Now, I am a Doctor of Education Candidate at Western University and will be graduating in 2022. It has been a very tough journey so far, but I am in the travelling stage and will soon reach my destination.
Who are your role models and/or mentors who helped you navigate your life’s work?
I have many role models and mentors, some of whom I don’t know by name nor have had long interactions with, yet they have taught me life lessons that I will hold with me forever. I believe that anyone who comes into my life, no matter what stage contributes to who I am becoming
What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?
The short yet powerful advice that I would give my 15 year-old self would be: live your life as you see it, feel it and intuitively know it. You have the answers.
What makes an individual’s Power Story™?
A Power Story™ is the use of one’s personal life experiences, whether good or bad, as leverage to succeed. A Power Story™ is heard, it is seen and it is shared.
What makes an individual’s Power Story™ is the personal acknowledgement of their own lived experiences and the belief that these experiences can be a lesson of value to someone else.
How was the idea for Vital Vibes App conceived?
I have a personal development service called Dobijoki Personal Development where I provide Power Sessions, Courses, Guides and conduct a series on Instagram Lives called Morning Chronicles. Morning Chronicles is my way of sharing my wellness journey in all its forms, while teaching the value of vulnerability in creating community. Once the Covid-19 pandemic caused the first stay-at-home order in March 2020 I began to do the Morning Chronicles more consistently and developed a community. I thought that having an independent learning tool that archives all of the content that I was sharing from my personal development service into one place would be a great way to continue to encourage people to support themselves. I recognized how technology has become one of the best ways to share content, so why not make wellness content accessible in app form. As a collective, Vital Vibes was chosen as the official name of the app and initiative.
From your website: “Activism and self-care are intersectional. In order for us to have the mental, emotional and physical capacity to continue to fight and build with community, we must build internally.” Would you elaborate on this?
If you ask an activist why they are doing what they do they will either mention the people, the collective, the underserved and rarely do they include themselves. Activists are selfless human beings who dedicate their lives to better the lives of others. Being on the frontlines of these movements requires so much physical and emotional labour that to be fully effective in the best capacity, self-care is inevitable. There are so many cases where our activists are burnt out or begin to develop different health issues because they are not resting their bodies and many times feel as if they do not have the time because of the need for their service on the ground. However, I preach the importance of taking care of our activists and helping them to make time to care for themselves so that they can continue to lead us. The intersection sits at the core of survival. Black people are fighting to survive in a system that was not built for us, so our activists are fighting for our freedom; while on the other hand, the stressors of activism and the toll it takes on the mind and body can be fatal if self-care is not incorporated as an integral part of activism.