Muslims commend SID Foundation Orphanage, urge Nigerians to emulate initiative
The newly opened ‘Sister In the Deen (SID) Foundation Orphanage’, launched last Friday, which coincided with Nigeria’s Independence Day Celebration, held at Harmony Estate, Ogba, Lagos. The launching of SID wouldn’t only serve as hope, but a new lease of life to orphans described as those children who are left with no protection because their parents have passed away. It is the right of every child to be protected, taken care of physically, psychologically and emotionally, but unfortunately this is not the case of orphans in Nigeria. Based on this ‘Sisters in the Deen Foundation Orphanage’, which first set out as ‘Truth Bearer’, a platform consisting of Muslims, with the aim to nurture their faith and make themselves better representative of true Islam virtues, decided to set up the orphanage.
Kind-hearted Nigerians put their resources together and built a befitting home to cater for the orphans and vulnerable in the society.
Speaking on the rationale behind the orphanage, Chairperson, Sisters in Deen Foundation, and custodian of the orphanage, Dr. Nurat Babalola, described the home as a story of gratitude.
According to her, “This home is a story of gratitude, in the sense that Allah says in the Holy Quran that when you are grateful, I’ll bless you and multiply you.
“There is also great responsibility that comes with taking care of orphans. There are very strict guidelines when it comes to Islam and taking care of orphans. And we as a helping hand for relief and development understand and take them seriously.”
Dr. Babalola explained that Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him – PBUH) was himself an orphan and there is great importance set in the Quran and Sunnah (the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH)) in the treatment of the orphans.
“Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, ‘Whoever caresses the head of an orphan in affection, solely for the sake of Allah, a good deed will be written to his account for every hair over which he passed his hand,” Dr. Babalola said, adding, “He said, ‘I and the person, who looks after an orphan and provides for him, will be in paradise like this’, putting his index and middle fingers together. So the whole idea is to fulfill the will of Allah.”
On the capacity of the home, she said, it was built to accommodate 18 orphans, comprising six boys and 12 girls.
She said: “That’s the capacity for now. We pray that in the shortest possible time, we would be able to get a bigger place with the support of Allah and the general public. This is an NGO founded for the sake of God and benefit to humanity.
“We don’t discriminate; we take children from any lineage, tribe, and religion. Because they are all humans like us and their situation isn’t their making. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean we should now be trivialising their situation.” Dr. Babalola, who also addressed the issue of mode of admission, said they only receive children based on recommendation from the government agency in charge.
“We can’t do anything without the government. So we admit only children sent to us by the government. Even if you find a child you must go to them, it’s in their discretion to decide where they want the child to go,” she said.
In his remarks, the Chief Imam of of Ansar-ud-deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh Abdulrahaman Ahmad, said it was a religious duty to care for the orphans because of their vulnerability. He explained that caring for the orphans is a very important part of the religion of Islam. So much so that the Prophet said, ‘I and whoever cares for the orphans are bound as one’.
To buttress his point, the Chief Imam said: “There are verses in the Quran that talk about caring for the orphans, providing a home for them, allowing them to grow in an environment of love and acceptance for them to have quality education, and not become a burden to the society.”
Continuing, he said: “Today is a moment of sober reflection because in our closest we have the best we can ask for. Meanwhile, there are children who are out there orphaned and vulnerable. Some of these children are orphaned by no fault of theirs. These children lack basic things. Every child is entitled to necessity of life. This is a challenge and Allah is telling us to take care of them.”
The Chief Imam, while commending the gesture, called on Nigerians to emulate the people who put their resources together to build the orphanage.
“This is commendable, something that should be emulated and something we need because if orphans and other vulnerable children are properly taken care of, society will be better for it,” he said.
Also, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Lotus Bank, Mrs. Kafilat Araoye, said the initiative was one to be encouraged.
She said: “We should have more of this happening. Because what this is doing is that, it’s taking our children off the street. Children that are hopeless and could become miscreants. It’s helping our society to become a better place.”
Mrs. Kafilat Araoye, who called on Nigerians to support the initiative, said: “A few women have come together to do this.”
It has to be supported, it has to continue and others have to come in and support by ensuring that it’s not just a place for children to live in but they have a feeling of home filled with love, care and attention. This is a message of hope to everybody.”
Chairman, Modesty Capital Ltd. Mr. Sheriff Yussuf, while addressing journalists said the establishment of the orphanage was a voluntary intention to serve the society and give back to the society, by helping the homeless children, nurture them, and give them a chance to live.
He said: “I think it’s a beautiful coincidence that it’s Independence Day when we are marking the 61 years anniversary of Nigeria with all the challenges the country is groping with right now, and this orphanage is also being launched to help the society.
“Wide spread poverty is one of the major challenges Nigeria is fighting right now and jobless in the society. If every unit that God has blessed to have wealth is able to offer an initiative such as this, it will take away a huge proportion of the poverty that we are talking about.” He said those orphans that could have become hopeless and helpless now have a chance to be able to stand on their own sometimes in future.
According to him, “Once you are able to equip them educationally, give them a sense of belonging and a feeling of love and care, they will not rebel against society. The bandits and criminals of today are rebelling against the society.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Capital Assets Ltd., Ariyo Olushekun, called for multiplicity of such gestures, while also lamenting the current economic situation in the country, which has indirectly created more orphans, some who lost their parents to insecurity or armed robbery attacks.
He said: “Nigeria is 61 but we are not even acting like we are 16 yet. So, this should be encouraged and I will like to call on those who have been blessed by Allah to support this and even set up more orphanages, especially the Muslim communities.”
Those in attendance were the Managing Director, LOTUS Bank, Hajia Kafila Araoye; Chief Missioner, Ansar-Ud-Deen Society; Sheikh Abdulraham Ahmad, Chairperson, Sisters in The Deen Foundation Orphanage (Baytu Sakeenah), Dr. Nurat Akinlabi Babalola; Mr. Kola Abiola and Chairman, Ibeji Foundation, Alhaji Rafiu Adisa Ebiti.
Others were wife of Senator Abiru, Mrs. Feyisola Abiru, National President, Association of Orphanages and Homes Operators in Nigeria, Dr. Gabriel Oyediji, Executive Director, LOTUS Bank, Alhaji Al Hassan Abdulkareem, Mr. Lanre Adisa, members of the orphanage home and well-wishers.