Supporting the less-privileged has always been the dream of the Director of TLS, Ikoyi, Mrs. Olubunmi Egbeyemi, as she recently renovated the nursery class of Red Cross Orphanage, Makoko, Lagos. Funmi Ogundare writes
The outpouring of prayers and gratitude from parents and teachers of the Red Cross Orphanage, Makoko, Lagos, recently, greeted the completion of the renovation/makeover of the nursery class of the orphanage established by the Red Cross society in 1988.
It was renovated by the Director of Tender Love School (TLS), Ikoyi, Mrs. Olubunmi Egbeyemi, as part of the charity drive of her school.
For a first time visitor or a parent bringing her child into such a class, would have asked if they indeed do a Montessori system in the school, as the class is now wearing a new coat of paint, a sleeping corner that used to have ordinary mats has been replaced by soft puff bed and throw pillows for the comfort of the children, as well as laminated numbers on the wall which the children can recognise and learn from.
Aside this, the playground which currently has weak play gadgets will also be completely replaced and made more child-friendly.
Asked what spurred her interest in the orphanage, Egbeyemi said, “when I was an administrator at Mayday School, Isolo, I have always have a relationship with the Red Cross office, and then I looked at areas where we needed to do more for the children, so I embarked on extracurricular activities. I used to go to Makoko to buy uniforms for the Boys Scout and Girls Guild Society.
“I also needed to have a relationship with the officers to train the children. It was during one of my visit to the place then to buy uniforms that I realised that there is an orphanage and I took interest in the orphanage. I didn’t even realise they have started a proper school.”
She said her school sometimes last year, embarked on a charity drive when it sold tickets to parents to embark on project for children from less-privileged background and realised about N500,000.
“In doing this drive, we didn’t realise we will get so much money, and we looked at what we are going to do with it aside donating old toys and clothes. In the committee that was set up, a teacher that brought the idea for the orphanage said rather than give them the cheque of N500, 000, we can look at something significant that we can do at the orphanage.”
At the beginning of this year, Egbeyemi said she decided to visit the playground and take a picture of what she intends to do, noting, “Fortunately we met the matron and the admin manager and we told them we needed to upgrade the playground. I used that opportunity to go round the classrooms and immediately I got to the toddler class particularly, my heart sank. There were about 30 children there, the moment I entered there, I felt we could do more and make the class brighter and child friendly. They were sleeping on the mats and there was a barricade to divide the classrooms. The children greeted so well and I felt these are children we could do more for.
“When I informed the head teacher of my intentions to improve the classroom, she agreed with me and we got the painting quotation to brighten up the classroom. We had extra furniture from my school which we tidied up and we decided to donate them during the Easter holidays and I told the head teacher that before they resume for the third term, they will come into a new classroom. They also had a box television which we had to replace with a flat screen type.”
Egbeyemi who disclosed that the projects would be in phases said, “the class makeover took us a week to do and we delivered when we needed to do that. The playground is going to be delivered in September 2016, we will clear the old metal play equipment which are no longer safe. When you are looking at safety for children, these are things that could hurt the children and they could be rusty. Clearly with more exposure and enlightenment, we don’t want to have such equipment in a playground where toddlers are playing.
“We also noticed they don’t have the right kind of sand, playing in the playground is not about the equipment. We are going to take the old equipment out, we want to look at the space and pour white sand that is good for playing. We make the space more beautiful, put a bit of gravel and create beauty. The clearing stage will be at the end of April or May, we will get the sand in by June. The whole idea is for them to have room to run around.”
On the impact the project will create on the lives of the children, she said it’s going to be a different orientation for them, adding that it will be like an incentive for the teachers who are there.
“I am sure by the time we get to the older class, some teachers would have got the idea of how to set up their classroom better. In a way, it’s training for the teachers. That was why I told the head teacher that we are not just stopping at decoration and the playground, we are going to be doing a mentoring programme. We will be having an exchange programmes where a day or two, their own teachers will come in free and mentor my pupils.
“Even those in the design team in my school can also have a day workshop with them to teach them how to do little things too. That way we are enhancing the quality of teaching too. I have had this idea for years, we want to go beyond giving food or clothes being an orphanage, why can’t we adopt the school and teach the teachers and create something different. I did it out of something I have always wanted to do.”
The Chairman Sub-committee of the Red Cross Society, Lagos State, Mrs. Omolara Ehindero described the project as laudable saying that though before now, other donors have been coming around, but it is the first time the orphanage will be having someone who will be embarking on such project at once.
“I thank God for her vision, to erect play gadgets for the children. All work and no play, makes jack a dull boy. The children in the nursery school need to play and exercise their body. When children play, the memory lingers on instead of staying in bed for a long time. It’s a very laudable project and we actually welcome it, it will stay long in our memory too as a society,” she said.
She also thanked Egbeyemi for her wonderful work saying that she had to tell members of her society during one of their meetings to see how they could help the orphanage educationally and morally.
“When you do something for the orphanage home, your life is fulfilled. I have been seeing some youths coming in to teach the children out of their own volition, they are helping the society, “Ehindero stressed.
The Headmistress of the orphanage, Mrs. Newyear Iheanacho also commended the efforts of Egbeyemi saying, “It’s already a great thing to the parents and to the Red Cross society. Nobody goes in there and come out without saying kudos, it’s wonderful. When we resumed for the third term, Mrs. Ehindero had planned to bring people together to pray in that class but she couldn’t make it, so she gave an instruction that we should do that.
“We went in there and prayed for her for the great work she has done. It has really been so wonderful. It will take us far as well. It will change the environment and also change the lives of the children. Environment matters a lot in the lives of the children, in a conducive environment, they will learn, it will be an attraction to anybody that wants to bring in their children.”