While government at all levels are battling with sending out-of-school children back to classes in order to eradicate illiteracy in the country, particularly in the northern part of Nigeria, Philanthropic support, is no doubt growing in significance as many non-governmental organisations and foundations are also not relenting in helping the government realise their dream to help vulnerable children, primarily from less privileged backgrounds, to find their feet in education.
It is on record that most of the children often reached out to, have never been to school all their lives. Imagine children who are almost 12 or 14 years old,but are yet to see the fore walls of a school! Sadly, the realisation that most of these out- of-school children even miss school because of not having a mere book and a pen, is even more heart breaking.
Disturbingly, given the economic situation in the country, it is no longer strange that most families have either given up on how to create a brighter future for wards, as they can barely provide a meal for their households, talk more of going the extra mile to pay their school fee and provide other essentials, despite knowing that education is a tool wealth creation.
For Aso Pada, a community in Karu local government area ,in Nasarawa State, it was celebration galore as a faith-based organisation, FBO, ‘with Answers’ Christian Ministry, came to the rescue of most families as they decided to take over 1000 children off the streets and into schools.
For the ‘Women with Answers’ Christian Ministry, working to enhance the lives of children from disadvantaged backgrounds through education is their focus especially as schools resume across the country, hence, their decision to host and support over 1000 children with a back-to-school outreach package that covers their “wellbeing, education and empowerment of homeless children and other classes of young people in disadvantaged circumstances.
The outreach provided food, books, shoes, bags and paid tuition for beneficiaries, as part of efforts to ensure that vulnerable children are not left behind as schools resume across the country.
The over 1000 beneficiaries who were drawn from across religious and tribal lines turned up, with some coming for second rounds and forcing the organisers to replicate the programme in batches.
Founder of the Initiative, Reverend Mrs. Adedamola Olajumoke while speaking with Journalists, said “The Feed A Child’ programme was divinely inspired as it was conceived by divine instruction in the month of May while going on a walk on the streets of Mararaba to feed the children in the community.
According to her, “The Women with Answers Christian Ministry,” was founded on September 1, 2018, and operates from the capital city of Abuja, with a vision to raise Godly women who are capable of penetrating into different part of the world with the gospel of Christ”.
The cleric who pointed out that the focus is to ‘Keep them smiling with the hope of education, which offers the children the power to overcome the odds and break the cycle of trans -generational poverty noted that this was the maiden edition of the programme and definitely not the last, as they intend to replicate the programme to as many communities as possible and as led by God.
Reverend Adedamola, however said that being the first time, the programme was not without its challenges. In her words “Being a first-time event, the major challenge we encountered at the initial stage was getting approval from necessary quarters and community stakeholders but thankfully, we were able to overcome this and eventually got the buy-in from everyone that was needed.
Those she said, included the district head, youth leaders, and security agencies among others
Speaking on funding, the founder said the programme was funded through cash and kind (volunteers) donations, by the partners and members of the ministry.
“As a faith-based organisation, our immediate next steps is to continue to intercede for the lives of all the beneficiaries. We are also in touch with the community leaders to see other ways to support the children”
She added that the primary support the ministry will request for are prayers and well wishes. Adding that they are also open to donations from good, spirited individuals who may want to partner and support the initiative.
Meanwhile, the youth president of Aso Pada community, Mr. Shamujin John said the initiative was of huge benefit to the community and its environs.
He said, “It is a very good one to reach and touch over 1,000 children, even including parent as we have seen here today. ‘Women with Answers ‘have indeed put smiles on our faces, especially with the back-to-school kits given to our children.”
The district head, the community, Sarki Shayindo, said “We are happy Women with Answers Ministry brought this programme to our doorstep to motivate our children to go back to school. There is no better gift to give children than the gift of education and that is what this gesture has done. Thank you for feeding the children and giving them beautiful gifts. We hope to see more of such.”
LEADERSHIP Weekend however, reports that while school enrolment is reported to have improved in recent years, statistics still show that Nigeria has the largest number of children who do not go to school. This reality highlights the need for more coordinated interventions to address education access and equity of millions of Nigerian children that are still out of school.
This is because with multiple outreaches, we will be helping to meet these needs and eliminating the barriers to education for children of the extreme poor and, in particular, homeless children.