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Taming youth vulnerability, building peaceful society

By Sulaimon Salau
02 April 2023   |   3:58 am
Nurturing has its influence on a child while nature (destiny) also is very important, but a child who is destined to lead a nation but lack moral, education and religious understanding has already railed off the track.

Chairman BoT, Sisters in the Deen Foundation (SIDF) Orphanage, Hajia Rafat Sanusi (left); Guest of Honour, Hon. Justice Sherifat Solebo; Chairperson of the Foundation, Dr. Nurat Akinlabi-Babalola; Dr. Islahudeen Sakahudeen, Guest Lecturer/Director General, Daaru Naim Academy for Sharia Science of Nigeria, Sheikh lmran AbdulMajeed Eleha and Master Eleha at the lecture held in Lagos

Nurturing has its influence on a child while nature (destiny) also is very important, but a child who is destined to lead a nation but lack moral, education and religious understanding has already railed off the track. These were the point of concerns for Islamic scholars who gathered in Lagos to examine Islamic solutions to youth vulnerability in the present day Nigeria.
Juvenile delinquency is described as the habitual committing of criminal acts or offences by a young person, especially one below the age of maturity.  Every society often witnesses an array of gangs who have become menace to the society why the vulnerable ones have been left to fend for themselves. There are genuine cases of orphans who are left to their fate. But majority are ‘self- inflicted’ having been neglected by the parents who have failed in their parental duties. Of course, these children have continued to be an albatross to their parents, community and the society at large whereby peace has continued to elude the environment.

Irked by this situation, Sisters in the Deen Foundation (SIDF) Orphanage Home in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, organized a public enlightenment lecture on curbing youth vulnerability themed “Our Youth, Our Future” in Lagos, parading top Islamic Clerics, Muslim faithful and top management of the outlet addressed the challenges associated with youth vulnerability in the country.
The forum agreed that the role of family unit, government and religion couldn’t be over-emphasised in shaping a peaceful society.
The Guest Lecturer and Director-General, Daaru Naim Academy for Sharia Science of Nigeria, Sheikh lmran AbdulMajeed Eleha, said youth menace in the society emanated from poor family setting, poor education, lack of religious knowledge and moral ethics.
He said: “If you want good children, it starts from the foundation of whom to marry and that is why it becomes imperative to carry out background checks on your prospective spouse morally, spiritually because this plays key role in your life trajectory.”
Eleha underscored the need to be spiritually grounded in life, noting that Allah (SWT) is the only one that can guide truly.  According to him, being a faithful Muslim goes beyond paying Zakat or being benevolent, but your conduct by exhibiting moral behaviour in front of the children will help and guide them.
Talking about the impact of parents in showing love, Eleha admonished husband and wife to live in harmony. He, particularly, urged the men to uphold their responsibilities by providing for their families and taking care of their wives. He commended the management of the Foundation for their collaborative efforts in bringing soccour  to the less privileged.
Another Guest lecturer and lmam Oluwole Ogba Central Mosque, Shaykh Sa’adallah Bello emphasized the duty of parents in shaping the society, saying: “If we want to enjoy peaceful co-existence where our children will be a shining star, we need to go back to the basics.
“Why is this necessary? It is because family unit is like a foundation of a home under construction without supervision or necessary materials that will make it stand the test of time, it will suddenly collapse. These days may be due to societal pressure, what transpired in the olden days have disappeared. There is no love while spirit of tolerance has gone south. Westernization is contaminating our original culture ethos.”
On the role of parents training children that will be a torchbearer in the society, he said: “We are all involved. Both parents are involved in child bearing. And once you fail in parenting, the children will fall into the society prey. It is worrisome the kind of names emanating from criminality.  We now have ‘Awawa Boys’, ‘One Million Boys’, and ‘Onyabo’. The girls address themselves as ‘Black Bra’. These are as a result of failed parenting. These children have falling prey into the society. It is disheartening.

“How do you achieve your mission in life if you are already destroyed due to bad behaviour? Citing two adjectives: Nurture and Nature, which are driving force in human race, the lslamic scholar said nurturing has its influence on a child while nature (destiny) also is very important. But a child who is destined to lead a nation but jettisoned education has already destroyed his/her future.”
Bello advised parents to take care of their children so they won’t become menace to the society, adding that well-educated children will be a pride of his/her parents and the nation.
On how to achieve harmony, Bello said it is by being tolerant. “Let’s have diversity in thoughts, relationships as it fosters peace. Don’t impose yourself on people, learn how to tolerate opinions of others because there is always ‘sense’ in ‘nonsense’ because each individual are created with his/her uniqueness. Sheikh Bello commended the foundation for this laudable initiative of taking care of the orphans and the vulnerable in the society and pray for more strength as they forge on.”
Chairperson of SIDF, Dr. Nurat Akinlabi Balalola said ‘Baytu Shekeenah’ is a story of gratitude. She said: “The Sisters in Deen Foundation emanated from the Truth Bearer Platform, a platform where we motivate ourselves by sharing knowledge on how to forge ahead in life in line with Islamic virtue.
“Exactly one year after it was established, we decided to visit an orphanage home. Since then, we had visited an orphanage home twice on a yearly basis. We are so close to the only Muslim orphanage in Lagos that existed and identified their needs. We observed that often times, people donate carbohydrate food products to the orphanage homes such as rice, noodles products among others.
“I started my career as a Food Scientist. You know children thrive in taking protein in their growing year. During the month of Ramadan, we visited the home, we took councilors there to find out that beyond food what their needs are. To motivate them career wise. We are so passionate about it and their caretakers too. While doing this, we became closer and we observed that as much as the caretakers are interested in taking care of these children, they can’t overstretch their facilities. So, there are children with genuine cases that they cannot accommodate. What will be the fate of these children? This is what prompted the group to establish an orphanage home? So, it is a story of Gratitude.  So far, over 15 children have passed through our orphanage. We have integrated some back to their families. We also initiated scholarship scheme for children outside the orphanage home.”

Speaking about this year’s lecture, she said everything about SIDF
is about the youth, the orphan and the vulnerable. “We are here to address the menace of youth problem and finding solutions to it. Last year’s lecture was to educate people about the importance of social and economic inclusion for vulnerable, but today, we are addressing youth vulnerability with the aim of curbing it. We recognise the United Nations voice that no Sustainable Development Goals can work without peace.

On this year’s lecture and family, Dr. Akinlabi Balalola said: “In addressing youth vulnerability, we also observed that most of the youth we come across their trouble emanated from troubled homes and they become endemic to the society. It is either one partner neglects the children or some can’t take care of their children because they are not financially buoyant. Even a single mother is going through a lot. This becomes an endemic, which turns to menace in the society. So, we are collaborating with the government to see how we can reduce this to the barest minimum. We are not establishing just an orphanage home but we want to get involved and find solutions to the youth vulnerability and eliminate it.
Chairperson, BoT of the Foundation, Hajia Rafat Sanusi, commended her team for their dedication to the noble cause. She said:“From the inception when we started and got the approval to accommodate children in the home, we have tried our best. We also have adult children that we are sponsoring in the university. We are proposing a permanent site in Epe to develop a massive all encompassing building to take more and more children. Apart from the children in the orphanage, we are also working on how to take vulnerable children out of the street, how to make them secure, to help them to have life and become somebody in life.
As a mother, Sanusi said she is worried about the menace of the youth and that is why all hands must be on deck. “We are trying our best.  There is an adage that if you train a woman you train a nation. If you are able to train or impact a group of vulnerable children to become somebody in life, they too will replicate themselves positively and in the process we will have a better society.”
Corroborating, the Welfare Officer, SIDF, Hajia Bashirat Oladosu, said it has been an eventful journey so far. “It hasn’t been that easy, but we have been able to achieve a lot. We have touched a lot of lives and even reaching out to families. We are delighted that we have been able to take some children out of the street. We have some in the university those ones are not resident. We have about 13 that have passed through us. Five of them have been re-united with their families.
“Everybody is saying that youths are the leaders of tomorrow.  But the situation is worrisome. The effect of the social media and others are lowering their morality. We need to create more awareness and those who are already on the street should be rehabilited.”
While admonishing the participants to continue to be a good example to emulate, the Guest of Honour, Justice Sherifat Solebo, said the Holy Quran is very clear about the duty as parents. “Husband is the caretaker and protector of his home.”

She said mothers should always be at forefront to ensuring that their offsprings are on the right track in the areas of education, which is the only liberator from the shackle of poverty.

The Director of Social Welfare, Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Mrs. Jaiyeola Oluwatoyin, who was represented by Mr. Eyiowuawi Sikiru commended the Foundation for putting together such programme . He also believes as parents they all have one role or the other to pay simply because the nation emanates from the family units which is a reflection of family setting.
According to him, economic situation, social, family and political institutions have failed. “With the collapse of the economy, the parents are not often financially buoyant. And in running up and down, they neglect their roles.”
Noting that his ministry is doing its best to address the issues raised under this year’s theme, he said he is hopeful and believes that all is not lost.  According to the Youth and Social Development advocate, a stitch in time can still save nine if all can put heads together and save the nation by taking care of the youths who are the leaders of tomorrow.
Sisters in the Deen Foundation Orphanage Home, which was first set out as a “Truth Bearer”, is a platform consisting of Muslim sisters with the aim to nurture their faith and makes themselves better representative of true Islamic virtues.

And having identified the needs of the orphans and the vulnerable, they decided to float an orphanage home, which was officially commissioned on October 1, 2021.  Over the last 16 months, the home has become a transformational centre where orphans and the vulnerable in the society are molded.