As part of activities to improve the lives of the less-privileged in the society, the Good Shepherd Society is building a two storey building to serve as a centre for the deaf and dumb in Shomolu, Lagos, write Ugo Aliogo and Jemaima Bolokor
The hut was made of thatched roof tops. It was lacking in beauty and style. It was small and was in an ugly state. The air in the hut was polluted with offensive smell and the surrounding was littered with rubbish. Inside the hut were a group of people, who had impairment in hearing and communicating. They were looking shabby and unkempt. But despite their condition, they were worshipping and praising God. They paid less attention to whatever was going on around them. They saw every moment as an opportunity to be thankful and joyous.
In 2015, the late president of the Good Shepherd Society, a pious society in Archbishop Vining Memorial Anglican Church GRA Ikeja, Sir Ikechukwu Ezeonyido, visited the small hut located at No 106, Apata Street, in Shomolu Local Government Area of Lagos State. He was shocked to see people living comfortably in a very deplorable condition and finding joy in suffering. He was unhappy and troubled in his spirit to do something to transform the condition of the place. He knew quite well that the task before him was herculean in nature, therefore it required combined effort.
When Ezeonyido returned, he discussed the issue with members of the society on the need to transform the condition of the place. The members keyed into the project having received the approval of the church, but in the process, the president died. They decided that his demise will not put a stop to the initiative. They began by demolishing the hut and built a better structure which people are presently living in.
They went a step further by embarking on a massive two storey building project. The building after completion will house a worship centre, an apartment with rooms for resident pastors, seminar rooms, and other rooms where they will be able to educate their young ones who cannot talk.
As part of efforts to give the project a facelift, the society recently organised a fund raising event at the Rotary Centre in Ikeja Government Reserved Area. The event which was aimed at raising money to complete the project which has reached an approached level, had in attendance the crème da la crème of the society.
Speaking at the event, the President of the society, Mr. Ossie Nwankwo, stated that when they saw the ugly condition which the people were living in, they resolved to help them, adding that the Lord Bishop of Lagos West, Rt. Rev. Olushola Odedeji, who has keyed into the project, donated to support it and promised that the church will also key into the project.
Nwankwo explained that the thrust of the project is to adopt and take care of the deaf and dumb, stressing that they will also focus on what they are doing and see how the church can assist them to have a meaningful life. “We thank Lagos State government for cutting down certain things so that we could continue. Though they have not supported us, and I understand the reason for why it is so,” he noted.
He stated that they have spent 30 million on the building and they require 15 million to complete the project which is expected to be inaugurated in June, adding that the project is being carried out by engineers and architects in the society.
Nwankwo added: “The building is a two storey building worship centre. At the top floor, there will the church, the second floor will be offices, residential place for their pastors, and seminar rooms. The ground floor is supposed to be a hall where they can rent out and get some money.
“The Lord has given us admonition to go into the world and do good. We are trying to give our own cold cup of water to the less privileged. The society is all about helping people, we also help the blind in Oshodi, yearly. We also lend a helping hand to the Spinal Cord Association of Nigeria (SCAN) situated in Amuwo-Odofin.
“Good Shepherd is all about shepherding the flock, doing God’s work and lending a helping hand. Through these societies, the church carries out its mission of helping. The church is very supportive towards this project through prayers, and they are also willing to key into the project. We want a situation where the church will be taking care of them.”
The Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, said the initiative is aimed at impacting the lives of the less privileged in the society who are viewed as irritants in the society, “because nobody is taking good care of them including government.”
He expressed satisfaction with the kind gesture demonstrated by the society, stating that it is a laudable effort which will have far reaching effect on the people and the public.
Ibidapo-Obe added: “This is a great move and this society needs to be commended for it. They have been doing wonderful things in the church. I learnt that some of the members have been contributing actively to the harvest and the growth of the church. Like the Bishop said, one cannot know what he will do to make difference. When you see these sets of people who have been forgotten in the society, it is the responsibility of government to assist them.
“I expect that after they have completed the building, the government should come into partnership with them. Government should give them grants to continue to carry out the initiative because the project is not a one-off thing. The project has to be properly funded and maintained. These people can do everything all they require is the platform to exhibit their potentials.
“Government should give them sustainable support so that the society will continue to provide this type of service. There should be support in terms of food, mobility, a centre for arts and craft, and vocational areas. It has to be sufficiently attractive otherwise, they will not stay there. What is important is that other societies should take a cue from this. Government cannot do everything, but they should do something. Charity makes sense because in doing charity, you are actually protecting yourself.”
In his remark, the patron of the society, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, noted that true Christianity is about assisting the less-privileged in the society and therefore called on Christians to support such life changing initiative.
“When it is God’s work, things are easy and He opens doors. Today, we have realised 14 million out of the expected 15 million. I want to assure that all those who have given here today that they will give testimonies. The bible explained that whoever lends to the Lord, will get it back with interest,” he urged.
He commended the members of the church for the support and donations towards the project, stating that the project will give glory to God and the church, “When the project started, the members were afraid to support. But I urged them that since the project is about God, they will sure receive the reward. Today, apart from the cash donations, an individual has promised to give tiles, another pledged to give the paint needed for the painting of the building.”
Delivering his sermon, the Anglican Bishop of Isiukwuato and Umunneochi, Abia State, Rt. Rev. Manases Okere, urged Christians to be serious in their service to God, and called for genuine commitment from Christians in their service to God.
He lamented that Christians lacked the attitude of giving, therefore called for a change of heart on their path, “Christians should wake-up to their responsibility of giving to support the work of God.”