From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan, and Laide Raheem, Abeokuta

It is Christmas season. But how will thousands of orphans and vulnerable children in various orphanages and homes across Nigeria celebrate? What will they wear and what will they eat? What will make them feel that the society has not forgotten them?

These were some of the questions that agitated the minds of four friends that formed a humanitarian organisation called The Like-Minds, prior to the celebration of 2021 Christmas. They held a meeting and decided to put smiles on the faces of residents of orphanages in Ogun and Oyo states.

The four friends are Messrs Lanre Shoyinka, Anthony Sobukola, Oladapo Olubiyi and Abiodun Awodipe. They are professionals and they are planning to float a non-governmental organisation to reach out to more orphans and vulnerable children in the country next year.

The four friends of like minds searched online and got telephone numbers of orphanages and placed calls to them. They eventually settled for two homes in Abeokuta, Ogun State, and two homes in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

During the calls, a member of the group, Abiodun Awodipe, asked the orphanages about their needs. The operators responded by saying they would appreciate food items because the children must eat, adding that donation of clothes, bags, shoes and so on were not as important as food. So, the four friends bought food items and donated to the four homes.

In Abeokuta, the organisation donated the items to the Gideon Orphanage/Old People’s Home, Asero, and Yemisi Alogi Orphanage and Children’s Home, in the Obantoko area of the capital city.

In Ibadan, the organisation also donated items to Tabitha Children Home, Joyce B, Off Ring Road, as well as Dorcas Adunola Motherless Babies Home, Oyediji Layout, Olubadan Estate, New Ife Road.

The items included packs of cereals, noodles, milk, custard and beverages as well as bags of rice and vegetable oil.

A member of the association, Biodun Awodipe, said the four-man humanitarian outfit decided to donate the food items in order to make children at the orphanages happy during the Christmas season.

He explained that the step was a way of giving back to the society and making the underprivileged feel loved. The organisation, according to him, was formed by four friends who attended the same university and graduated 30 years ago.

He added that the association was working to register as an NGO, saying the group would continue to make positive impact in the society.

Awodipe, however, called on well-to-do Nigerians to cultivate the habit of giving back to the society by supporting the underprivileged, particularly vulnerable children.

The manager of Gideon Orphanage, Apata Olwaseun, thanked donors for the gifts, noting the food items would go a long way in giving succour to the children of the home. Also, the caregiver at Yemisi Alogi Orphanage and Children’s Home, Mrs. Modupe Adigun, commended the organisation for bringing smiles to the faces of the children.

In Ibadan, the executive director and founder of Tabitha Home, Febisola Okonkwo, who noted that the home was eight years old as a residential home for orphans and vulnerable children and 14 years as an NGO, said a total of 45 children were in the facility.

Her words: “We are grateful and we are appreciative because the food items will meet the needs of the children, especially now that they are on holidays and we are preparing for Christmas and New Year events. We have 45 children in this home. They are all fully in school and they are all doing well.

“We run an ongoing communal support programme, which means that we regularly need supports. We run a process, which means at least, children eat all the time. The children will sometimes go to the hospital. Children would need to be maintained.

“The children would have to go to school. We pay school fees. They go to private school, but fortunately enough we have relationships and collaborations with the schools, so that they wouldn’t charge us the same tuition and school fees. They give us heavily discounted rate. The fees are very affordable, still we have to pay. We also pay salaries of workers in this home.”

The project manager of Dorcas Home, Daniel Kembe, said a retired nurse from the University College Hospital (UCH), Mrs. Dorcas Adunola Oyediji, founded the home, before her death some years ago. The mantle of leadership of the home, however, fell on her son Rev. Olumide Oyediji.

She said: “During one of her birthdays, she requested her children to set up this home for her because she was a lover or children. Having retired as a nurse from UCH, she  decided that this is what she wanted to go into. So, that was how this place came up. She operated it when she was alive till she passed on.

“The family, however, nominated her son, Rev. Olumide Oyediji, to take charge of the home. Since Oyedijî is not living in Ibadan, we are running it on his behalf. We have 21 children in this home, and they are all from the ministry of women affairs, Oyo State. We are fully private initiative with zero government funding. We exist purely on the support from individuals, organisations, religious groups and corporate bodies.”

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Source: news