On the invitation of Miss Nikola Sasurova, a UNICEF volunteer from Czech Republic, OACians from Ibadan paid a visit to one of the oldest children homes around in Nigeria.
Ijamido Children’s Home was founded by an American, Chief (Mrs) Irene V Liloughby, in 1958, to care for children abandoned at birth and who have no one to cater for them. The home has 123 children in residence; babies, toddlers and pupils of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions of learning. The children stay in the Home until they reach adulthood because the Home does not allow adoption.
With a team of seven, OAC Ibadan left the University to be joined by OAC representatives from Lagos, Mr Tobi Bamuyiwa and Miss Folakemi Olowu, at the Ota home of the orphaned and abandoned kids. The team was well received by both the caretakers of the home and the UNICEF representatives.
The visit was quickly kicked off with meeting with the children within the age brackets of 10 and 1. The team engaged them in fun-filled activities as we tried to brighten their day with beautiful stories, while also trying to add more value to their lives by engaging in games that promote friendship, teamwork and interpersonal relationships. The moments shared with the children can only be told by the excitement shown on their faces. Through their eyes, we could see the broken jigsaws in their puzzles and how they were all endeavouring to fix them, both with the help of the home and their own resolve to stay happy despite their challenges. The children were not as timid as might be expected; they freely expressed themselves only after a little familiarization process by the OAC team. With Tosin leading the programmes, we were quick to form circles and fun and bonding were the results of the activities. Later on, Victoria had a chat with the kids while some of the OAC team members, specifically Tobi, Folakemi, Habeeb and Tosin moved to talk with the children who were in their adolescence.
The kids were undergoing a training session before the team arrived and were a little tired so we had the problem of reigniting their interest. However, they were equally receptive as they freely participated in the activities that were introduced. We got them to talk about their aspirations and what they were doing to ensure that their dreams come true. Some who wanted to become singers came out to render beautiful songs a cappella and everyone loved the passion they put into it. We talked to our children about adding values to another’s life and why they need to sustain the affection and outreach that the founder of the home has offered them. We told them why they needed to care more about the people around them and why they were equally as important as everyone else in the creation of better societies for humankind .We reiterated that the little things they did to the people around them counts a lot and that the accumulation of such things are what makes a difference to the world. So they should keep the intensity of doing good, sharing love and staying positive as well as affecting the people around them positively. The children asked a few questions which were duly answered.
As we rounded off our visit, Mr Kola of VWAN (Voluntary Work Camps Association of Nigeria) walked in. VWAN was the host of the two white volunteers, one from Czech and the other from Finland; he was very appreciative of our visit and praised his OAC team. He added that he was ready to support us in his full capacity and revealed that there were several international opportunities that could be tapped into by the organization. He added that the sustained excellence of the organization would catapult to bigger levels where offers from across the world would be tendered to work with the organization and the visions of the organization properly met. He also talked about exchange programmes that were available to volunteers as people who were interested in such charitable works are needed across the world.
In the end, he told to team to stay connected to VWAN so as to closely monitor opportunities that might result thereof and also said that the association was willing to support OAC and should be carried along as at when due.
The team bid farewell to the home after a short meeting with the caretaker of the home. The man thanked the team for taking out their time to connect with the kids and also prayed that such efforts would continually yield fruits.
Head of Editorials, One African Child.