By Bukola Fash
These certainly are not best of times for the Lady of Africa Foundation, as it fights the battles of its life to keep 10 children it had rescued from the streets in school. the Founder of the organisation, Princess Bukola Fasuyi, narrated the financial challenges currently threatening its charitable mission, even as she called for assistance from corporate Nigeria.
Ranging from ages six to 12, the children were thrown into their present situation due to conditions that are not of their making. Having lost their parents at tender ages, they are left to fend for themselves, roaming the streets of Lagos, looking for succour. They moved about in tattered cloths, with no-one showing interest in their predicament nor any readiness to help.
Times without number, some of them have had to sleep under the bridges among hardened criminals and ‘Area Boys,’ without knowing what the future holds for them. Day and night, they were despised and looked down upon by a society that just does not care.
Lost Parents to Cancer…
A good number of them lost their parents to the dreaded cancer disease, but rather than be taken in by their relatives, as is traditional with the African culture, they were abandoned and left to fend for themselves.
One of them, 12-year-old Kayode Olabiyi lost her mother, Bunmi Olabiyi, to breast cancer last year. At the beginning of her travail, the media was awash with the late Mrs. Olabiyi’s situation, courtesy of the Lady of Africa Foundation, a Lagos-based non-governmental organisation that took her plight to the media houses. She needed N7million to undergo treatment in India at the time but sadly, help did not come her way until she succumbed to the disease. While on her sickbed, she was abandoned by her husband who ran away and left her to her fate with their three children.
Following her death, Kayode and his two siblings were left with no one to take care of them. Relatives despised them, and this inevitably affected their education, as they practically dropped out of school. Literally, they were left in the cold, until the Lady of Africa Foundation again stepped in to take up the responsibility of their upkeep. Since then, they have been under the care and watch of the organisation.
No Privilege of Knowing Her Father…
Another of the kids is six-year-old Ife Bello, who also lost her mother to breast cancer at the tender age of one. Her mother was a single mother at the time of her death; hence little Ife today does not have the privilege of knowing who her father is and may never do.
After her mother’s death, Ife was picked up by her mother’s elder sister who trained her until she was three years old, before she also succumbed to the cold hands of death. Left with no one, a church decided to accommodate her and she was sleeping inside the church’s building. But life was far from being rosy for little Ife, as she was not getting that adequate care, necessary for a girl-child of her age.
Miffed by her situation, she was picked up by some neighbours, who introduced her to the Lady of Africa Foundation. She has since been under the organisation’s care.
Aside these two cases, eight other children, who have also gone through difficult times on the streets, are now under the care of the organisation. They were abandoned by relatives who could have extended a helping hand to them.
Help from Tohibat Group of Schools
As a way of making sure the children have access to education that would prepare them for life in the future, the organisation approached the management of Tohibat Group of Schools, Medina Estate, Gbagada, founded by Alhaja Tohibat Adeniji, a philanthropist, for assistance.
In a swift response, the school offered to subsidise the school fees which are originally N450, 000 per term, for eight of the ten children. Consequently the foundation is to pay only N30, 000 monthly for the feeding and upkeep of each of the children, and N50, 000 per term to cover boarding and other expenses of each of them, while the school takes care of all other expenses.
The management of the school is also in the process of assisting the remaining two children, Segun Bello and Yomi, whose mother is also battling with breast cancer, to begin their university education at Islamic University, Ghana, at subsidised rate of N200, 000 per session for school fees, and N50, 000 per month for feeding and upkeep for each of them, which the organisation is expected to foot.
Sadly, however, the children who are now bonafide students of the school (Tohibat Group of Schools) are always in and out of the school due to the Lady of Africa Foundation’s inability to regularly fulfill its part of the agreement reached concerning their fees.
Princess Fasuyi: It’s Not Been Easy Catering for the Children
Founder of the organisation, Princess Oluwabukola Fasuyi, while fielding questions concerning the children’s predicament, disclosed that having been responsible for their upkeep in the last few years, the organisation is finding it increasingly difficult to meet up with its responsibilities, due to financial constraints resulting from the biting economic situation in the country.
She thus called on corporate organisations and wealthy Nigerians to partner with the Lady of Africa Foundation and come to the children’s aid, so as to keep them in school and ensure that their quest for a better future is not derailed.
Princess Fasuyi said: “It has not been easy taking care of the children all these while. Many children in this country are roaming the streets without care- either because their parents do not have the financial wherewithal or because they have lost their parents and have no-one to take care of them. “
The sad part, according to her is that “many Nigerian women continue to die of various types of cancers, leaving behind their children to a lonely and somewhat carefree world.”
Expatiating further, Princess Fasuyi said: “The school’s management has been really magnanimous. As soon as we approached them for assistance in the training of the children, they agreed to subsidise their school fees. But it has not been easy to fulfill our own part of the deal because of financial difficulties. The children are staying in boarding schools and we have been accommodating them in our home whenever they are on vacation. But now we need assistance from corporate organisations and well-meaning Nigerians.
“We want Nigerians to assist us because we don’t want the children to go back to the streets. They have been given a ray of hope, and on our part, we want to continue what we started.” She rounded off.
A Plea for Assistance…
Two of the children also lent their voices to the plea. First is Kayode Olabiyi, one of four kids who lost their mother to cancer early last year. “I am overwhelmed to say anything now. I doubt if I could have found my way to that school even if my parents were alive. We want Nigerians to help us, so that we also can have a future.”
The other, Kemi Steven Fash said she really appreciates the opportunities given to her and other kids by the founder of Tohibat Group of Schools, Alhaja Tohibat, as “It is keeping my hope of becoming a medical doctor alive.”
She therefore appealed to well-meaning Nigerians to come to their rescue and keep their dreams alive.
Interested Nigerians can make their donations to Lady of Africa Empowerment and Advocacy Foundation’s Zenith Bank Acoount number 1012915056 or visit www.ladyofafrica.org for more information. Or contact 08093190941 and 08050337373.