Beware of fraudsters who come on behalf of orphanages, says Rev. (Mrs.) George
Home Religion and Beliefs Beware of fraudsters who come on behalf of orphanages, says Rev. (Mrs.) George
|Beware of fraudsters who come on behalf of orphanages, says Rev. (Mrs.) George
|Written by SAM EYOBOKA
|Saturday, 03 January 2009
|WHEN the Little Saints Orphanage, a divine haven for orphans, abused and abandoned children, was registered as first non-governmental indigenous orphanage by the Lagos State government in June 1994, no body gave the then shy Rev. (Mrs.) Christiana Bamidele George any chance to survive especially because the idea of private orphanages was novel to these climes.
Born on December 12, 1955, the first child of former governor of old Bendel State, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia, the reverend who found favour in a very supportive husband, Captain Jide George, was dogged and now about 15 years after, she is still stands tall. Over 1,000 children have benefitted from the programmes of the orphanage which has also spread its tentacles beyond the Palmgrove initial take-off place.
Today, over 120 children with their nannies reside in four branches of the orphanage in Lagos.
The Little Saints Orphanage has a three-tier programme for the children: Rehabilitation, Reformation and Reintegration.
The first objective is to take abandoned children off the streets and give them a befitting home as the orphanage is structured as a haven in every measure. The children and babies are rehabilitated under the most conducive conditions with unconditional love and excellent care.
Rev. (Mrs.) George told our reporter during a visit to the home on New Year eve that the vision is capital intensive because "we initiate and build rehabilitation centers. The hostel within these centers is called “LITTLE SAINTS HOUSE” for orphans, abused and abandoned children brought into the mission through the police or good Samaritans. Little saints house is home away from home for our precious saints."
The second aspect of the home includes reformation and this is through education and extra-curricular activities. "Education is the best investment in children," the reverend said "the mission is determined to help the little saints as far as they want go to in their pursuit of academic excellence. All Little Saints go to schools located around the orphanage. Presently we have some of them in universities."
The programme of reintegration into the society, according to her, is through adoption and fostering to deserving and loving families. There is also reconciliation to extended family members. "We work in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Youths, Sports and Social Development on fostering and adoption issues. So far the exercise has yielded great results," Mrs. George added, stressing that in the beginning "we appealed through the media for Nigerians to come forward to adopt but as at today the orphanage has a waiting list of adopters yearning for children!"
In her belief, the greatest stride this nation has made since independence after democracy and the GSM revolution is adoption and the impact "we have made on adoption by raising the rate of adoption in Lagos State and by enforcing through interaction and motivation the procedures for adoption. "Abduction is one of the most beautiful thing that has happened to us apart from democracy and the GSM revolution," she added. The best service one can render to God is to raise up a child in His name to walk in His ways. God is the first to have adopted. He adopted us into His heavenly family through His son, Jesus Christ! This is why we must do the same and take every single child away from the streets into the security of a Godly home."
Like many well meaning Nigerian, Mrs. George even after almost 15 years of humanitarian service still wonders why a woman would carry a baby for nine months and after going through the near death experience of giving birth, and decides to throw the baby in a pit or dump him/her in a dustbin.
"Our first abandoned baby was brought to the orphanage in a polythene bag," she told our reporter "we were shocked! Today that baby is enjoying the love and comfort of a loving family through adoption. Presently, all babies in the Little Saints Orphanage get adopted within a few months. Glory to God! Little Saints Orphanage does not charge a single naira for adoption. Ours is a call to serve humanity."
Mrs. George who is already proposing a bill for the National Assembly to punish any woman who abondons her God's gift severely with a view to reducing the menace of abondoned babies in our society, is taking the crusade to rid our society of street kids to a new level where Nigerians are expected to take interest in fostering on a greater scale. She hopes to improve on this in their next stage of impact. How does it work? "When children are brought to us from the streets we seek out extended families for reconciliation, some times we find them but most times we don’t," she said, urging Nigerians with means to take advatange of that window to lend a helping hand to such children.
According to her, most of the ills currently in our society would not be there if we make delibeate effort to reduce the number of vu;lnerable children from the nation's streets.
The mission that now houses the Baby Care Unit for babies from new born to 12 months, at the 6B D'alberto Road, Palmgrove Estate, has other outlets in Akowonjo for boys, which is regarded as the main orphanage because it was the first hostel facility to be built by the mission. It is the Little Saints House or hostel for the boys and their nannies. It is a 200-bed hostel equipped with standard facilities. It runs a small administrative team of cleaners, cooks, nannies and missionaries to take care of every need of the children under the supervision of an administrator. There is another branch at Ogudu which was donated to the Little Saints by the CEO of Fourscore Homes, Mr. Femi Osibona in 2005.
It is occupied by the female saints and their nannies. Like the Akowonjo branch for boys, it runs a small staff of cooks, washers, and volunteers under the supervision of an administrator.
The Abule Egba branch which is currently witnessing some rehabilitation work in preparation for the new year, there are two services which include the complex for our Family Relief Centre---an affiliate of the Little Saints Orphanage where the ministry offers small scale business support to widows as well as distribution of food to hundreds of needy people on regular basis. The Little Saints House in this complex is a special house for objects of love, i.e children with physical and mental challenges. They include the sufferers of different ailments and other physical conditions hence the special demand for extra care. They are cared for by special nannies and administrators.
Mrs. George on that Wednesday decried trend by unpatriotic citizens who use the name of the orphanage to defraud Nigerians, saying that some Nigerians as well as foreigners who pretend to be volunteers go out to collect monies and food stuff from people. "Attempts have been made in recent times to spoil our good name," she lamented "these fraudsters visit places like the Alade Market, Ikeja and some communication giants to solicit for support purportedly on our behalf..
"This orphanage has never sent people to market places or offices to ask for support. We keep our Little Saints boxes in churches, corporate offices and strategic places for people to donate," she said while appealing to potential donors to desist from dealing with such individuals or middlemen and make their donations directly to the home.
Speaking on the attitude of Nigerians towards the plight of the underprivileged in our society, the founder commended efforts by some individuals who have continued to contribute to the orphanage, noting that only few corporate organisations have complimented the efforts. "Individuals are doing very well, but corporate bodies have not done enough. We have written for sponsorship of our pet project where we intend to build a Safe Haven for Children, and have even encouraged them to brand the centre but no respond," she further lamented.
George said that if more centres are built they would serve as rehabilitation centres for the blind, homeless, beggars and mentally retarded children who have constituted a major nuisance to pour spociety. "It is not enough to decorate and beautify the streets, but when we have removed that category of persons from the streets, we can safely say that our environments are beautiful," she added explaining that there was a proposed new cite called Safe Haven for Children, in Lejina Village, Ikorodu which would accommodate the street children next year. It was expected to cost about N600 million to construct through direct labour.
Stating that the land was donated by an individual, she urged corporate organisations, as part of their social responsibility, to invest more towards orphanages, especially in the education of the children, so as to have a better and improved society, saying that it was not enough for corporate organisations to come and take the children pout for parties during Yuletide season. "They should plough some of their profits to human capital development by picking some of these children for scholarships," she added, stressing that a few churches like the Household of God Church, TREM, Guiding Light Assembly and Covenant Christian Centre, Victoria Island had consistently assisted the orphanage.
Mrs. George, who read accountancy at the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, further cautioned parents especially mothers against constant neglect of their kids, while calling on law makers to institute a law that would prosecute guilty parents.
"This will forestall some parents from throwing away children or maltreating them so that we can build a healthier society," she said, adding that the mission normally organises parties for the children in the home at seasons like but of late corporate organsations have taken that responsibility. She maintained that there has not been any dull moment for the children who are well taken care of in the homes.
Also speaking, the administrator of the orphanage in Abule Egba, Mrs. Evlyn Bamgbala said that some of the street children are recalcitant and are not ready to go to school or learn, ading "those who have been good, have been reconciled with their parents except some whose parents could not take care off.''
Bamgbala said that the Abule Egba branch would accomodate children with special needs after the renovation work. She commended individuals for contributing to the home throughout the years, adding that the home also holds special programmes for widows and elderly people twice a month by providning them with food and cloths.
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2009 Jan 3