Leadership (Abuja)

29 December 2012

Nigeria: How Orphans Celebrated Christmas in Lagos

Although destiny may have stripped them of parental love, orphans in Lagos state believe that they deserve proper education to have a place in the future.

The orphans in an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP WEEKEND thanked their stars for leading them to the Little Saints Orphanage, saying the family love they lost by nature was regained in the orphanage.

Paying glowing tributes to their proprietor Rev. Mrs. Dele George, the orphans said the woman has remained a good 'Father and mother to us', pleading with well-meaning Nigerians and government to assist their proprietor to get them educated.

Sandra who is one of the orphans said she enjoyed her Christmas celebration with more than enough to drink and eat, saying they "live a normal life in the home".

"Sometimes it is natural to have this feeling like I don't have parents of my own but all that is no more .We are all sisters here in Ogudu Home. Our mother, Mrs. Dele George and the administrators always make sure they pamper us with love and care. We sing, dance, learn and I have never been sad since living in this place. May God bless my mother; she is a very good mother".

Sandra, a 14-year-old who did not disclose the name of her school said" I am in secondary school and Mrs George is the one paying my school fees. I'm not the only one being sponsored; we are many in the school. She wants all of us to read to any level we want. Education is the key in life and what makes a person what he or she becomes.

"I want to appeal to the government and prominent Nigerians to support our mother to give us education. It is not going to be easy for her to do alone. Take us as your own children and provide for us as God blesses you", she added.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, the administrator of Little Saints Orphanage Mrs Seun Ilori said the wards had a swell time celebrating their Christmas, adding that well-meaning Nigerians flooded the orphanages with gifts and donations to make the wards happy in the yuletide season.

"You can see that people are still coming with items for the children. We are very grateful to all of them for their kind gestures. But caring for the huge number of children at our orphanage is a huge challenge. We need financial support to cater for their education. Individuals and government can be of help in this.

"We need education sponsorship. You can sponsor a child's education in Nursery, Primary and University. We need a school bus for the children, dining tables, mattresses, bed sheets, pillows, food stuff and at least a 10-20 KVA Generator.

She said the orphanage, established in 1994 has been a haven for orphans, abused and abandoned children, saying they currently have wards that were adopted by parents who live in Netherlands and America.

"We regularly pay a visit to our children that were adopted by parents who live in Netherlands and America to see how they are doing. They are well taken care of and we are happy about the progress they are making in those countries". Ilori said.

Meanwhile, Khadijah Ayanwale, an orphan at Bab es Salam Muslim Orphanage home situated at Joel Ogunnaike GRA, Lagos said she normally feels sad whenever she dreams of her real mother.

According to her, "I got here in 2003 through my aunty because she could not take of me and my brother together but I only feel like an orphan when I see my mother in my dream."

Ayanwale who is 18 years old explained that she knew her mother before she died and since then, she has been dreaming about her.

"If I think of how she cared for me and some other things, I always feel sad but I am well taken care of by Bab Salam orphanage; I attend school like other children who have parents", she said.

When asked of her father, she could not explain where he is or if she would recognize him. "I don't know where my father is but I bear the name of our family which is Ayanwale", she added.

She therefore advised children with parents not to look down on the orphans, saying that they are not better than them.

Another orphan, Adam Hassan while narrating his story said, "My father died when my mother had me in her womb and because she has no money to take care of me I was brought here to continue with my life".

Hassan who has finished his secondary school maintained that he has learnt many things in life as an orphan, saying if he had an opportunity of staying with his parents, he wouldn't have learnt better.

"As a 17-year-old boy I have no regrets being an orphan because by next year, I will sit for my JAMB."

Speaking on whether the home receives assistance from the Christian, the supervisor of the home, Nurudeen Bakare told our reporter that there was a low turnout from the Christians. "Though, we get assistance from the Christians, but it is like other orphanage homes receive more attention.

The home according to Bakare is financed by the children of the founder, Late Abdulwahab Folawiyo, adding that they also get contributions from outsiders.

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