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The Oratory taking children off the streets

By Florence Utor
10 December 2021   |   3:27 am
The Oratory, a movie, which seeks to raise awareness on the plight of homeless and street children, has been making the cinema rounds in Nigeria, Dublin, London, Turin and Venice since its release.

The Oratory, a movie, which seeks to raise awareness on the plight of homeless and street children, has been making the cinema rounds in Nigeria, Dublin, London, Turin and Venice since its release.

The movie that has received rave reviews features an impressive array of both Nigerian and international movie stars and was filmed at various locations in Rome, Atlanta, Lagos and Turin.

After the movie’s first excellent outing on November 20, 2021, at the Film House Cinemas in Surulere, Lagos, it held its second premiere on Saturday, November 27, 2021 at the Genesis Deluxe Cinema, Ceddi Plaza Abuja.

The movie takes viewers through the life of Rev. Fr, Michael Simmons, (played by Rich Lowe Ikenna), an American Catholic priest on a missionary trip from Turin, Italy to Ikoyi, Lagos.

Once in Lagos, the plight of street children in Makoko catches his attention as he resolves to help alleviate their predicament.

To achieve that, Fr. Simmons must do all he can to confront Shuga, the dangerous Makoko kingpin who has the street boys locked in criminal servitude.

Produced and directed by Obi Emelonye, the film stars Enyinna Nwigwe, Rich Lowe Ikenna, Florence Okechukwu, Lawrence Nwali, Andrea Ferrara, David Davidson, Stephen Ogunnote and others.

Addressing the press during the week in Lagos, Chairman of the Organising Committee of The Oratory premiere, Gbenga Adebija, said, “The Oratory is not just a movie, it is actually an integral aspect of a multi-dimensional initiative of Salesians of Don Bosco, which not only reminds us individually and as a collective of our civic responsibilities towards street children, adding that it is aimed at creating “an inclusionary framework for the upliftment of homeless, delinquent and juvenile youths who are at risk of negative social issues such as violence, sexual abuse, trafficking and crime.”

“The attempt of this movie is to call for action. As Salesians, we believe in faith in action. If we don’t multiply that effect and get more partners to come on board, we can foresee that there is going to be a disaster. The more young people are increasing on the street, the more the threat of insecurity,’’ says, Dr. Cyril Odia, a Nigerian Salesian priest and Executive Producer of ‘The Oratory’.

Odia, who stated that the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria is in millions, expressed how excited some of the street children who watched the first premiere in Surulere were.

On his part, Child Protection Specialist at the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Denise Onoise, said the movie aligns with the objectives of the international organisation.

“At UNICEF, we do partnerships like these even with ministries and government agencies. This is particularly interesting for us due to the work we had done in the past six years. Three years ago, the state governments in the North had been worried about the Almajiris and wanted them to be returned to their states.”

Onoise who disclosed that UNICEF is particular about poor children and how to help them live better lives, stated that “Sometimes, a lot of them, because of poverty, are not able to go to school, so they are on the street. Many of them are not able to access healthcare. Again, they have problems being on the streets. Sometimes, they don’t have a home where they can sleep”.