Igbobi College Old Boys Association lifts less privilege
Determined to give succour to less privilege in the society and put smiles on the faces of children with special need, Igbobi College Yaba Old Boys Association 1996 Set (ICOBA ’96), paid a visit to the Hearts of Gold Children Hospice, a care and management center for children with mental and extreme physical disabilities, as part of activities for its end of the year celebration.
According to Set Chairman, Mr. Bankole Agunbiade, the essence of the visit is to bring smiles on the faces of the children and give them that love that need, especially during this season of festive celebrations.
He said, “Like we sing our school anthem, ‘wherever there is an Igbobian, there is always a noble Nigerian’. As old students of the great citadel of learning, Igbobi College Yaba, which helped shape us into the men that we have respectively become today, we deem it necessary to put smiles on the faces of the children, who are blessings to us and the society.”
The set donated a sum of five hundred thousand naira (N500,000) to the centre. “It is our little way of saying thank you to the Almighty God for sparing our lives all through the year, from January 1 to date, and blessing us one way or other,” Agunbiade added. He stated that children with special deserve the same love, care, protection, guidance, education, opportunities like others because they are our children.
“Often time they are considered to be an embarrassment; hence we locked them away in various institutions and abandoned them. Because of a lack of knowledge and ethics, we did some very cruel things to many of them.
“We recognise the importance of children’s hospices. We deem it necessary to adapt to the ever growing needs of children with terminal and other life-threatening illnesses, hence our visit to Hearts of Gold Children Hospice,” he enthused.
Decrying the high level of poverty in the country and its adverse effects on the poor standard of living of the citizenry, Agunbiade attributed some of the challenges being experience in the country to failure governance and the leaders fulfilling their electoral promises. He advised Nigerians to vote with their conscience during elections to be able to elect patriotic and capable leaders who have genuine interest of the masses at heart.
Also present during the visit were the past Chairmen of the Association and other members, who all agreed that the initiative is commendable and pledged to make it a yearly commitment. Explaining how the centre came about and her passion for children, Mrs. Theresa Laja Adedoyin, Nigeria’s Mother Theresa, said “The whole thing started in year 2000 – Millennium year. I came to Nigeria for holiday, as I was then based in London, United Kingdom. We went out to the National Theatre, Iganmu Lagos, and I had an accident there.
“I was on the hospital bed for months after the accident with threat of amputation. While on the hospital bed, I prayed to God for healing and spare me of further pain with a promise to work for him if healed. I specifically made a covenant with God that if He would save me and save my leg from amputation, I would work for Him.”
“God answered the prayer and I got healed. I almost forgot the promise I made to Him. Yet He kept reminding me until I took the stand. So when I took the decision, I chose the area of care for physically and mentally challenged children.
“So Hearts of Gold Hospice is a fulfillment of my promise and vow to God; I am still very grateful to God because He saved me and saved my leg,” she added.
Adedoyin further told the old Igbobians that Hearts of Gold Children Hospice came into existence in 2003, and since then “we have continued to wade through the challenges of running the home with more and more children who are regularly dumped or thrown away due to challenging health issues.”
Working with people with disability is no doubt a daunting task as they seem helpless depending on others for everything. For the Nigerian Mother Theresa, she has continued to thank God for the opportunity to walk, work, dine and wine with the special children. “Through them, I have learnt to be patient, humble and more giving.
“My relationship with people with mental disabilities started back in March 1990. I first was privileged to have gained experience in the area of special education with emphasis on children with challenging behavior, especially children with autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, dyslexia and other neurological conditions associated with mental challenge.
“I worked for the Commonwealth as artiste in residence. We were about 48 from Commonwealth countries. I later set up Obatala Disability Arts Vocational and Training Centre. I also ran a centre for adult with learning disability in East London. I also lectured at Newham County College East London,” she stated.