Educate and Train 100 Disadvantaged Children

by Fair Life Africa Foundation
Educate and Train 100 Disadvantaged Children
A beneficiary of the COVID-19 Relief programme
A beneficiary of the COVID-19 Relief programme

This will be the shortest report we've ever delivered, and it's just to say we're still standing, and we're still working.  These past few months have been slow and quite uneventful, as we've been trying to minimise the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Consequently, we didn't hold our annual Summer Programme with our kids this year.  Thankfully, our sacrifice hasn't been in vain, because the stats are down enough for our government to feel optimistic about reopening schools this month!

Even still, we are being cautious.  Parents are assessing and taking their own risks with getting their children back into schools, while schools are making every effort to appear safe and ready to handle the risks of reoppening.  We are grateful to our child sponsors, many of which have been faithful with their contributions, despite the turbulence of this time, so that we are able to settle school fees for our children, and get them back to school and adhering to safety regulations.  We've been collating their bills for this purpose.

In other news, we were happy to partner with SAGE Foundation in June to provide palliatives to 125 families.  Together with JaceSoft Digital Solutions, we organised a two-day programme to distribute essential supplies and food provisions to families in need at Jakande, Lekki, where we are based. Our social workers referred to the list of 100 families we assembled last year to benefit from our Secret Santa Christmas and contacted them to inform them of this initiative. We also invited the families of the children enrolled in our Disadvantage to Advantage Initiative to make up the list of beneficiaries.  We wrote more about this on our blog.

As we all adjust to this new normal, redefining ourselves and reshaping our world, we wish you peace and joy.  May your changed circumstances only build your character and stregthen your spirit, and may you never relent in doing good!  God bless you much!

Provisions were spaced out to minimise contact
Provisions were spaced out to minimise contact
Teamwork makes the work fun
Teamwork makes the work fun

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Sponsor Akindele joined the FLA Kids at Valentine
Sponsor Akindele joined the FLA Kids at Valentine

I didn't want to do it... That is, base our report on the pandemic that has swept the world!  Surely, that's what everyone is wrting and talking about.  But the truth is, it has become our reality.

Before Coronavirus, we knew we had problems in the world, especially in my country, Nigeria!  But with Coronavirus, all the issues became magnified in the way they made responding to or thriving through the crisis difficult.  As a charity, we knew that poverty was a HUGE problem in our country, and it's one of the things we are tackling through our initiative.  But suddenly, with the entrance of Coronavirus and the compulsory lockdown, it seemed like the poverty we had been 'managing' was what would actually kill us before the Coronavirus we were all so afraid of!

While other citizens could boast about the support they got from their governments, we could not even dream of it.  The rich managed to take care themselves well by stocking up, but how could someone who lives on everything he makes each day stock up?!  How could someone who relies on his monthly income to live and provide for his family, and extended family even, stock up when he probably no longer has a job?  How could the homeless practice social distancing, when they don't even have their own place to sleep?  It didn't take long for the rich to begin to fear for the crime that would result from such imbalance and negligence of government.

Seriously, the issues are too abundant to talk about.  But something happened that brought it a little closer to home for us at Fair Life Africa Foundation.  A fire broke out in an already impoverished neighbourhood, where several of our children reside.  Fortunately, only one of our kids' homes was affected, but hers was one of 100 families whose homes were destroyed by the fire at "Dustbin estate", Ajegunle, where she lived with her mother.  How do you respond to such a crisis, in our state of enforced lockdown brought about by the pandemic?

Fortunately, another organisation, which had referred Naomi to us, were based at Ajegunle, and were on ground to provide assistance to those affected.  They were also able to confirm some statistics for us, and the real state of affairs.  Through our liason and partnership, we were able to raise funds to support 15 of the families affected, including our very own Naomi.  We wrote a post on our blog, which we circulated to raise awareness.  Our support addressed their immediate needs for food, medicine, and clothing, but they had to make do with squatting with friends or at Churches and available spaces nearby.  We really wish we could have done more, but we are happy to have been able to do anything at all.

This Valentine period, before the virus came to Nigeria, we organised a special brunch for our children, which we held at Foodies Restaurant, Lekki on the 16th of February. We invited their sponsors to join us and were happy that several honoured our invitation.  The children really enjoyed it, as it was a nice change from the other brunches and parties we organised at our centre.  We also wrote about this on our blog.

We really hope that the time will soon come when we can gather happily together again, without face masks, to enjoy our humanity and freedom.  But even more than this, we look forward to the day that 'charity' work will no longer be necessary, because poverty and disease will be no more...  Can we dream a little?

Until then, thanks so much for joining us in our efforts to make a difference in our world! 

A nice, new experience for our kids!
A nice, new experience for our kids!
Sponsor Yewande with her sponsored child
Sponsor Yewande with her sponsored child
Group shot!
Group shot!
Dustin Estate burned to the ground
Dustin Estate burned to the ground

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The Ekes at Christmas
The Ekes at Christmas

Over the years, since 2012, when we ran a rehabilitation home, we've sought to do something special for our children every Christmas.  In 2012, we had our very first Christmas party, and it was a great success.  We anticipated that we'd do the same in 2013.  However, come 2013, we were no longer housing street children, but working with them in the community, as we took a break to evaluate that initiative.  Instead, we did follow up visits, and took Christmas to their homes.

By Christmas 2014, we'd enrolled the first ten children into our then new Disadvantage to Advantage Initiative and did our first Santa Drive to their various homes and communities, where we shared gifts and provisions to the kids and their families. In 2015, we didn't have a party, as it was the Christmas we partnered with Ultima Limited to scout for five talented children to support to achieve their potential in the FLA Talent Search.  It wasn't til 2016 that we decided to host another Christmas party for our children, which they very much enjoyed.  Interswitch Nigeria came along with gifts to make it more special.

We held another Christmas party, come December 2017, which the children were tasked to plan.  They had a great time doing so, and we also went out swimming.  In 2018, we had A Christmas to Remember, our biggest celebration yet.  We invited children on our waiting list and their families, who we gave Christmas hampers, as well as our FLA Kids, as we hoped to link them with sponsors.

We hoped to carry on the tradition, but aside from the kids having a great time, celebrating with each other and their families, and taking home gifts and provisions, we wondered about the impact of these celebrations we plan for the kids each year, especially when a sponsor mentioned that she thought the families would prefer the physical cash than the money spent on these events.  It made us think and reconsider our plans for 2019.  We really do appreciate the feedback and contributions of our sponsors, and we'd like them to feel we are making the best of their donations, in bringing joy to our kids and empowering them for a fairer life.

So, last Christmas, we planned the Secret Santa Christmas, instead of hosting a party for our kids.  We sought out to learn more about the needy families in our local community and link them with sponsors, who would give them just what they need; for their family, children and/or business.  We anticipated that a lot of people would key into this but, unfortunately, we didn't get a lot of support with this and were only able to gift seven families in need, out of the 100 we assessed and appealed for.  We shared about each family (using pseudonyms) via our Instagram page, but as a recap:

1. The Anthonys, a family of six, got N50,000 towards their business and financial needs;

2. The Bunmis, a family of five, got N20,000 towards food and provisions for the family;

3. The Bayos, a family of seven, got N20,000 towards provisions and N30,000 to help with the family business;

4. The Collins, a family of six, got educational sponsorship (to the value of N100,000) for one of their kids (she is now enrolled in school and her 2nd term fees have been settled by FLA);

5. The Demolas, a family of four, got N50,000 towards clothing and food donations;

6. The Ekes, a family of seven, got N50,000 towards clothing and food donations;

7. The Fadekes, a family of five, got N50,000 towards their rent.

Regardless, we took our kids out to the Palms Shopping Mall ahead of Christmas, and gave them cash to get the gifts they really wanted, instead of us buying gifts for them this year.  A lot of them seemed to prefer this, while others were spoit for choice and said they'd prefer if we had gotten the gifts for them.  In addition, we sent money to each of the families we support, to help them with their needs over Christmas.  The total costs of these amounted to what we would have spent on a Christmas party (even more), and we hoped that the families would each put these donations to good use in getting the things they really need or just having an enjoyable Christmas.

So, what do you think?  To party or not to party?  Is it a good investment planning activities and events that will help our kids to forget about their troubles and feel loved, once in a while, or are the practical gifts really the way to go?  We'd really appreciate your feedback.

We'd also like to use this opportunity to say thanks for entrusting us with your hard-earned cash.  Really, thank you!  We really want to make the world a better place, and we are trying all we can to make the impact where we are.

God bless you, and have a fantastic 2020!

A wonderful Christmas for the Bunmis
A wonderful Christmas for the Bunmis
The Collins got educational sponsorship!
The Collins got educational sponsorship!
The Bayos were so happy!
The Bayos were so happy!
The Demolas got their wish :)
The Demolas got their wish :)

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Summer Camp outing to Ikoyi Prisons
Summer Camp outing to Ikoyi Prisons

Nooo...  We don't have money to give away.  You may have hoped to read, "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"  Well, get in line!

But really, who wants to be a secret santa?  A lot of people may not mind being santas, who give gifts to children and those in need, but not a lot of people want to do so secretly...  Well, maybe that's you!

Alright, here's the gist.  We planned earlier in the year that, instead of having a Christmas party for the FLA Kids this year, we could do something special for the poor community where we reside.  We would have loved to carry them along each year, but we've only been able to focus on our kids.  However, this year, we thought we would like to link each family with a sponsor, who would give them a special and personal Christmas present.  Though the families won't know their sponsors, the sponsors will know a reasonable bit about their chosen family, so that they can give a meaningful and thoughful gift.  It's really a different way to look at giving at Christmas!

We started the legwork for this in September, after our Summer Programme and much needed break.  Our social workers passed out forms to the residents of the Jakande estate, who are mostly impoverished, struggling families, to learn more about them and their needs, and to know what their Christmas wish was, if they could think of something.  Answers ranged from providing educational support for their children, jobs for unemployed parents to clothing and food for the family.  Though the forms have been slow in coming back, we now have 75 families that we would like to match up with sponsors.

It's November, so we are kicking off with our campaign, while still gathering more information on the residents.  We are hoping to link up 100 families with secret santas this Christmas.  And we are also hoping that the gifts won't just be for the season.  Some of the children we met are really bright, and we would like to support them through our programme, but they need sponsors.  Hopefully, we can make some real, lasting connections between our secret santas and their families!  If this sounds like a great idea, we would really appreciate your support to make it happen.

In other news...  Our kids are doing great!  Most are enjoying the mid-term break now, while some of them are still waiting to get into University or higher education.  We got them together at the end of September, on the Sunday before our Independence Day, to enjoy a play at Terra Kulture, Lagos.  It was a nice, culturally relevant drama, called "The Night Food".  They really enjoyed this social activity.  Though we won't be having a party for them this Christmas, we plan to also share gifts with the children in our care.  This will be made possible through their child sponsors, who have been so faithful!

Thanks for all you do to encourage us, inspire us and bless us in this work.  May God bless and empower you too!  We've added pictures from our recent activities.  More are available via our website.  You can also read our post about the summer programme, which is on our blog.  Thanks again!

Summer Camp Outing to the International Airport
Summer Camp Outing to the International Airport
Summer Camp Outing to Lekki Conservation Centre
Summer Camp Outing to Lekki Conservation Centre
The Night Food at Terra Kulture was great!
The Night Food at Terra Kulture was great!
Group picture in the theatre hall
Group picture in the theatre hall
Thank you for the love!
Thank you for the love!

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Chioma in her graduation gown
Chioma in her graduation gown

Ahead of our Summer Programme which kicks off tomorrow, 5th August, for the FLA Kids, we got to chat with one of the children who has been sponsored through our programme and has now completed her secondary schooling.  Chioma has always stood out in her intelligence and character, as one of the leaders of Tomorrow!  She's an outspoken, bold and bright young lady, who has participated in several of our debates and taken initiative whenever we've organised events.  She's an aspiring lawyer, and she's very grateful to her sponsors, Shiv Lila Polymers Ltd, who have supported her since April 2015 to keep pursuing her dreams.

Below is our chat via WhatsApp.  It has been slightly editted for more clarity and focus.

***

Chioma: Good afternoon, ma.

Ufuoma: Hey, dear.  Congrats on completing your secondary schooling!!!

Chioma: Thank you very much, ma.

Ufuoma: So... How are you today?

Chioma: I'm very good, ma.

Ufuoma: Do you remember when you first learnt about Fair Life Africa?

Chioma: Of course I do.  I heard it from my mum that through my school I would be sponsored by an organization.

When I got the news I remember feeling so lucky. Those things that hindered my education had come as a discouragement to everything I had planned for my self and everything I had hoped to achieve had all been  wiped away.  By that name "Fair Life Africa", I was instantly motivated and everything just seemed to fall in place and it made me feel special and safe.

Ufuoma: Yeah, I believe your school referred your family to us in 2014.  Do you know the challenge you were facing as a family at the time?  Care to talk about it?

Chioma: It's basically financial issues...  We are a big family, along the line I think because of unfortunate circumstances my parents couldn't keep up with our basics.

Ufuoma: You said you had dreams and plans for your future that seemed dashed until FLA came along to revive them...  What are these dreams/plans?

Chioma: Being able to have an effect in productive change in regards to things around me. Being a lawyer also, to be able to determine the importance of the truth... There's nothing more effective than dealing with the law.

Ufuoma: Have you always wanted to be a lawyer?

Chioma: In my heart, yes.  People will always give their opinions on what they think is best for you, though.

Ufuoma: Okay, but you know what you want.  That has been clear with you.  What would you say the greatest thing you gained from your school is?

Chioma: Yes it has.  The greatest thing I gained from my school should be how we were never encouraged to relax.  We were always reminded that immediately you get past a stage you should fight harder with the next one.

Ufuoma: Hmmm....  That's interesting.  So, you found that strategic or motivating towards success?

Chioma: Very!  I feel even to the point where you think you would like to get to, when you finally arrive, move higher than just that.

Ufuoma: Keep aspiring for greatness!  So, how do you feel now that you've completed Secondary School?

Chioma: To be honest. A little tense and there's need for perfection. I keep giving myself these talks to help me focus and grow in order to meet my aim.

Ufuoma: You don't feel relieved, happy or excited?

Chioma: I do feel relieved... So relieved!

Ufuoma: Lol!  One down or two down, two to go...?  Do you plan to do a Masters or PHD?  Or just to get a degree?

Chioma: I do plan to do my masters.  I have always!!

Ufuoma: What type of Law do you want to specialise in?

Chioma: Corporate law.

Ufuoma: Why?

Chioma: I find that if I'm really good at it I can make lots of money.  And then I have always been intrigued at the confidence and strategy that one has to bring to be the best!  I'm also very persuasive.

Ufuoma: Cool.  So, do you know Shiv Lila Polymers are your sponsors?

Chioma: I didn't.  I hope they know how grateful I am.

Ufuoma: Okay. If you could meet one of their representatives, what would you like to say to them?

Chioma: I would say that I am highly appreciative.  And I know how much faith they'd put in into helping me and I would like to assure them how I wouldn't joke with the opportunity. I am grateful and I say a big thank you.  They have impacted my life a great deal and I plan on making an impact to the world with their generosity.

Ufuoma: Awesome!  So, our summer programme is coming up next week.  Are you excited?

Chioma: I'm not because I wouldn't be able to attend, ma.  Aunty Ifeoma mentioned it to me but I started an internship job and I wouldn't be able to make it

Ufuoma: Oh no :(  But great about the internship!  Where is that?

Chioma: It's at Lekki Phase 1.  They are a retail company.

Ufuoma: Okay...  Not related to law then...

Chioma: No...  I tried though.  But with my little or no experience partaking that yet, I was advised to engage in anything else I could gain from.

Ufuoma: Okay, cool!  Only a few more questions...  How have you found the FLA Summer Programmes?  Is there a particular year that you felt was most impactful?

Chioma: They have been wonderful.  The year we talked about inequality and how females should be regarded equally as males.  We got to share different views and we felt people connecting.

Ufuoma: That's great.

Chioma: We also had to help with cleaning the environment as a way of giving back.  That made me really happy.

Ufuoma: :) Okay, our theme this year is “Leaders of Tomorrow, Today!”  What do you think of that, and of the activities we've scheduled for the other FLA Kids?

Chioma: I think it's great.  The encouragement and support is just so awesome and they're so lucky.  Wish I could be a part of it too.

Ufuoma: Yeah!  You're one of those who shows a lot of leadership potential.  I was looking forward to your participation.

Chioma: That means so much   Thank you, ma.

Ufuoma: Okay, final question.  What would you like to say to other children who are in situations like your family was when FLA came to assist...?  And to your fellow FLA Kids who have been given this chance at a better life?

Chioma: To the kids in the same situation I was... I would say, " Don't be to quick to let go of those dreams and ambitions.  I promise if you we fight together we'll make it."  And to my fellow FLA kids...  "Let's do this!!!!!  We've always be determined and with this encouragement and love, let's all work hard and become great so we could give back and make every one proud!"

Thank you very much ma.  FLA has done more good than words could say...  I'm so grateful for it all

Ufuoma: Thanks, dear!  And I appreciate this time you've given for our interview tonight.  Good luck with your internship!  Do keep us posted.

Chioma: I will, I promise!  You are highly welcome ma.

***

We are so grateful to everyone who has come alongside us to invest in these leaders of tomorrow!  Thanks for your faithfulness and generosity in giving.  And thanks for all the other ways you have shown your support to our initiative!  Do check out our post about the Summer Programme to see what we've got lined up and how you can assist: CLICK HERE.  God bless you all!

Oh, happy day!!!
Oh, happy day!!!
When we first met Chioma in 2014
When we first met Chioma in 2014
All grown now... Chioma at Christmas 2018!
All grown now... Chioma at Christmas 2018!

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Organization Information

Fair Life Africa Foundation

Location: Lekki, Lagos - Nigeria
Website:
Project Leader:
Ufuoma Emerhor-Ashogbon
Lekki, Lagos Nigeria
$5,024 raised of $90,000 goal
 
154 donations
$84,976 to go
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