Recently, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Olive Tree Parish, Banana Island, Ikoyi, through its Liberty School and Soup Kitchen initiative carried out free eye tests for primary school pupils and provided free food to indigent children in Ikota, Ajah, Lagos. Ugo Aliogo writes
When Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, left Redeemed Christian Church of God, Olive Tree Parish, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos State, he was greatly missed by the church. It was not because he was leaving the church for the much coveted position of Vice President, but because he has left a lasting legacy which would stand the test of time. The church passed on their good wishes and blessings on him. They believed that he was God’s sent messenger destined to transform the fortunes of a country broken down by corruption and other vices.
While he was the Senior Pastor of the church, he established 10 pious groups known as kingdom ministries. The ministries were Life Changers, Soup Kitchen, Mercy Cross, Liberty Schools, Women Alive, Hospital Project, Parents without Borders, Just Justice, Friends for Life, and Friendship House. The groups were aimed at meeting certain needs in the church and the society at large. During his stay in the church, he exemplified himself as a man with a large heart. He was concerned about the needs of the downtrodden and needy in the society, therefore it was his wish that these ministries carry out these tasks of meeting societal needs.
Today, these ministries are discharging the mandate handed over to them by the founder. The communities that they live in are feeling their impacts and their contributions are having far reaching effects. The Liberty School and the Soup Kitchen have been working actively to change lives and affect the less privileged in the society.
Liberty School started in 2014, to provide free education in underprivileged areas in Lagos State, and the school fees are paid by the parish. The Soup Kitchen was setup to feed people in the locality and other areas, many of the kids are from poor families, therefore members of the two ministries who come from privileged backgrounds assist in providing good quality foods for them.
Some communities visited by Soup Kitchen include, Basimore Settlement (Banana Island), Falomo Underbridge, Obalende, Iporin Underbridge, Kuramo Beach, contributed to Eleko crusade, Ikota Slum and Ikate Waterside (The Slum). Presently, they have over 200 volunteers, beside outreaches; they are serve free lunch at the Liberty Schools located at Obanikoro and Ikota respectively with over 100,000 packs of food served till date.
Recently, the Liberty School and Soup Kitchen organised a free eye test exercise for some primary school pupils in Ikota, Ajah Local Government Area of Lagos State. The exercise was aimed at treating pupils with various eye defects in order to help them improve in their academic performance. Soup Kitchen also gave out free lunch to the pupils while the eye tests were ongoing. It was a laudable gesture which will create a lasting impression in the minds of the parents of these kids. On their part, they may not have the financial withal to give their kids this sort of medical care.
Many of these parents are largely farmers and fisher men, whose basic concerns are to meet family needs of shelter and feeding. For them, survival is a necessity, giving the child a good medical care and qualitative education may not be in their budget due to lack of awareness and the financial means.
In this community, some of the children have had their destinies truncated not by their own making, but the unfortunate circumstances around them. Many of them become ‘Areas Boys’ and ‘Omoniles.’ While some who are able to break through by dint of hard work, self-determination and focus, become exploits in the larger society. These families live in the coastal areas and face a lot of housing challenges during the rainy season, but they have continued to prevail despite the odds of life.
Speaking at the exercise, the pastor in-charge, Alex Okoh, lauded the good works carried out by the Kingdom Ministries, adding that they are conducting these free eyes tests for the children, because they heard reports that some of them have issues with their eyes, “therefore, we want to help them correct it so that they can learn better and quicker, so it does not affect their future.”
He stated that they were carrying out the free eye test in collaboration with St. Edmund Eye Hospital, noting that the Liberty School and Soup Kitchen came together to see how these kids are progressing and what they can do. “The Soup Kitchen offers three meals to every pupil every day of the week,” he noted.
“We do this to encourage these kids to come to school, because the parents cannot afford the school fees, many of them come to school hungry. The food we offer them is of good quality and it is good enough for us to eat. The parents are very positive and happy about it because they are getting high quality education. Secondly, the parents are happy that their kids get fed very well once daily, so that burden is being uplifted off their shoulders which is very good.
“The far reaching effects we tend to create with this initiative are in two folds; first that free education can be given to people at minimal cost. Secondly, there are people who will ordinarily go to school, we are also taking school to them in order to help them. One of these kids might become the president of Nigeria in the future. These kids are very brilliant; therefore it is not only less privileged individuals, but people who do not have the money. We also help those that do not have the money to go school and we provide them with free education.
“The pastor at the time said these ministries have been setup for anybody so that people can be part of it and people gravitate towards any ministry which they had a liking for. Liberty School was setup to give free education in underprivileged areas. We have one here in Ikota, Ajah and Obanikoro. The Soup Kitchen carries out feeding interventions. Our vision is that in the next few years we will be able to build a couple of hostels where people can sleep over and we feed a thousand people at different locations. At least one thousand people a day.”
The School Proprietor, Mrs. Olabisi Gbenga Awe, who commended the exercise, noted that the pupils are performing very well academically and appealed that more of such exercise will come to the school.
She stated that the aim of the Liberty School is to take the children off the road, in order to prevent them from becoming area boys. “We take them off the road, help to transform their lives and give them a destiny in the future,” she said.
Awe noted that the community members were very much impressed with the free education and the daily feeding Liberty School and Soup Kitchen have been organising, adding that it was a welcome development for them because the free education initiative has helped to assist the indigents students in the community.
“In this environment, we noticed that children who are above school age do not have the opportunity to go to school until we came in. So what we did was to start the literacy class. That literacy class embraced all the children who were within the school age who have never been to school, so they are moved into literacy one.
“When they showed signs of improvement, we move them from literacy two to basic one (primary one). Right now, we have basic one to four, by next year we will have basic five year. In the upper year, we will have our new set of graduates. This is not the only Liberty School, the other one we have is at Obanikoro, and there we had our first set of graduates last year.
“Another set has registered for this years’ examination. The Soup Kitchen organised this initiative in partnership with Liberty School and the church because both are Non-Governmental Organisations in Olive Tree Parish at Banana Island,” Awe said.
The Ophthalmologist, Saint Edmund Hospital, Dr. Ayo Harriman, stated that they were treating those with refractive errors which meant that they were either long or short sighted and those who had astigmatism.
She said refractive errors are errors that do not allow the child to see sharply, therefore, it will definitely have a far reaching effect, admitting that when they pick up those who cannot see well, their vision would be corrected where possible, and they will be able to improve in their school works. “They will be able to see the white board, and they will able to see their books and read properly.
“As I said before, once the child can see what is written on the board, it should improve their academic performance as long they study. We have done this in other schools, but this is our first time in Liberty School today. We will like to come back if we are invited again. We were invited by Mr. Toyobo whom I know personally. He mentioned it to me that there is a school which RCCG Olive Tree Parish looks after and he will like us to come and carry out free eye test for children. I think it is very good initiative,” she added.