I like to think of hope as the breath of life...Without it, the living, though they are alive, are as dead. It has been found that in the absence of hope, the sick do not recover. Where they see no hope, some people facing crisis may choose to take their own lives or make drastic decisions that compromise their safety. For example, vulnerable children choosing the street over their homes can be seen as people in hopeless circumstances, or a young girl making the compromise to sell her body for food.
Hope is the most important thing a person needs to survive. Hope is the cheapest, but the most valuable gift we can give, and all that is required is a little interest and expression of kindness to a needy soul. That is what we give to the children work with, and we are so glad that we are not doing it on our own. Thank you for all the support you have given, and continue to give. With your continued charity, the light of hope can keep shining even in the darkest places in the world…
I have started this report by talking about hope because sometimes the opportunities we give people by choosing to lend a hand can be underestimated. We don’t want you to underestimate the value of your contributions. With your help, over the last three months, Fair Life Africa Foundation has extended hope to nine boys whom we sheltered through our CCC Respite Project ‘to protect and empower Nigerian street kids’. Even though all their experiences were different, and they each handled the opportunity they were given differently, there is no doubt in my mind that each of their lives will never be the same, and for the better.
I would have loved to tell you about hundreds of children whom we have touched, but the truth about our work is that it is a qualitative investment; as we work with a set number of children at a time, to help them to be reconciled with family, and have hope for the future. I wish all their stories were success stories, but unfortunately, one of the boyschose to opt out of the programme prematurely and returned to the streets again, despite the love and encouragement he was shown. But the thing about hope is that, even if it is just one life that will be saved, the value of the investment cannot be underestimated. And the success stories drive our hope that the world can be a better place if we will make the effort.
So, I want to tell you about two boys, in particular. Their names have been changed to maintain their confidentiality. Jason and Anthony are 13 years and 11 years old respectively. Jason used to live at home with six brothers and sisters, before he began to frequent the streets, and eventually ran away. His parents recount that he used to be well behaved when his father worked closer to home, but when he set up a business far from home that kept him away from home for days at a time, Jason began to spend more time away from home and with bad friends. His mother, who couldn’t handle the burden of the seven children (including a two year old), and her small business, also expended her energy trying to keep him in check. To add to their problems, Jason began to sell off the family possessions for a token of their worth, which would attract beatings from his father, that became very abusive and included him being tied down with a chain for days to prevent his running away.
There are so many issues, when you consider Jason’s case, but there is not time or space to go into all. He eventually ran away for fear of being beaten after selling off their family generator. However, when you see Jason, you will not believe that he could do anything bad at all. He is such a simple and lovable child, who responds to care and direction. He is also bright and artistic. However, he is easily influenced. Before Jason returned home, his family visited our Home - and his mother on several occasions - for counseling and reconciliation. He also got to spend a weekend with his family. In addition, to ensure that his father understood the seriousness of breaching Jason’s right to protection from abuse, a child protection meeting was held at the State Secretariat, and he was counselled and given an official warning not to abuse Jason or any of his other children.
Jason was supported home with provisions for himself and his family, and he has been regularly visited at home by his social worker. During her last visit, she recounted that he looked so happy and “did not look like a child who has ever lived on the street”. He is currently receiving holiday coaching, and is looking forward to resuming school inSeptember. His father is repentant about the way he abused Jason, and the parents are also being supported toenable them to give better care to their children.
Anthony is a boy who displays the characteristics of a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. However, he had been living with grandparents who did not understand his condition, but assumed that he was just a very naughty boy, and would beat him every single day. He eventually ran away to the streets. He was left in their care after his parents divorced, and his mother moved to another country. His father worked as a driver and was not stable enough to look after him and his siblings, who were moved about from one relative to another. While Anthony was with us, he showed that he was a bright and honest boy, and he also showed a strong desire to be reconciled with his father.
Anthony’s father and his grandparents visited the home and were counselled about how to treat a child that behaves like Anthony. Anthony also showed some understanding about his behaviour, and made efforts to be better behaved. Unfortunately, his father’s work requires that he lives close to work, and so he used to sleep at work, and had no place to accommodate himself and his children. However, Fair Life Africa Foundation supported the family to rent an accommodation close to his work for 18 months, so that Anthony and his father can start a life together. They will soon be joined by his siblings too.
Anthony was delighted to be returned home, and even when he arrived and saw his father unwell, he still wanted to stay with him. It was particularly touching, considering that Anthony had become used to the comfort of our Respite Home. When his social worker visited, she marveled at how happy he was. She remarked that at his holiday coaching classes, his classmates “like him a lot” and said that he is doing very well in his academic work. He, too, is looking forward to resuming school in September.
Time will not permit me to talk about the other successful reconciliations made, but I hope you can see that each case is different. We are very hopeful that Anthony and Jason will never go back to the streets again, and that they will grow up to be visionary leaders in Nigeria. Having been touched by love and hope, we know that they will have much love and hope to give to other less privileged people. Thank you for being a part of it! God bless you.
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