I've been in Nigeria for the last two weeks, visiting a few partners, but mostly trying to figure out why we don't have more Nigerian partners expressing interest in joining GlobalGiving. I've been impressed by the great NGO leaders turning up at our workshops, and I was blown away by long-time GlobalGiving partner, Friends of the Disabled.
Chief Aku Christy Ordu started the organization and grew it slowly over time. Today, it is a tidy, energetic center of skills training for the disabled, literally under a highway overpass. In her complex she has a tailoring workshop, a welding workshop, a shoemaking workshop, a fish farm, an urban garden, and a clean water baggie plant. She and her staff just graduated 50 disabled students from a two-year residential apprenticeship in leatherwork, tailoring, and welding, sponosred by the South African telecom MTN.
An Ashoka fellow, Chief Aku Christy Ordu goes for sytemic change and has successfully implemented sign language clubs in 50 schools to help make hearing imparment less of an obstacle. She was instrumental in passing Nigeria's first accessibility law for the disabled. Many of her top staff and most of the individuals employed in the income-generating activities are hearing impaired. She aims to prove to Nigeria that this issue does not have to be a barrier to having a successful life.
I very much look forward to meeting with Chief Aku on her next visit to the US. Her work is incredible, and she is ready to expand her fish farm from four to forty tanks! The total cost is about $20,000, and it will employ 20 people while generating income for ongoing skills training.
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Isale Eko, Lagos Island