Samuel Oladunjoye, is the Director of Healing Wings Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation fighting poverty among youths and women through empowerment programmes. In this interview with Peter Uzoho, Oladunjoye speaks on the mission of the organisation, the successes and challenges, among others
When did the organisation start?
By the grace of God the NGO started about seven and half years ago.
That time we were majorly into cancer screening and cancer awareness.
Then I travelled to four to five countries doing cancer awareness,
vaccination, medical check-ups and so on. But like four and half years
ago we looked at it that people are suffering. We discovered that a
lot of people were not coming up again for the cancer diagnosis. So on
the process, we now decided that we have to look for another way we
can touch and change the lives of people.
So the idea of empowering
people came to us. We reasoned that people are doing this at a cost ranging
from N80, 000, N120, 000 and above depending on the capacity of an
individual which was so high for most people to afford. So we sat down
and thought that as an NGO we have to do something so that we can take
this challenge off people. Immediately, we went out and did some field
work. We sampled people’s opinions and discovered that a lot of people
want to learn something to be on their own but there is no means. Some
of them said the money was too high and they couldn’t do it again. We now looked at it and said we can actually assist these people.
We now asked them to register with just N5000 and come and receive the training. Sincerely the N5000 is too
small. If we had help from the government the people are not supposed
to pay. They would have just come to receive the training for free. We
have written over 150 letters, it was only Akintola Williams that gave
us N430, 000 and after him nobody has given us any money again. With
the N5000, we looked for professionals in those areas who would bring
out passion in them to come and partner with us in the project. We
pleaded with them not to look at the money but to look at those lives
that were wasting away.
We pleaded with them to look at those single
ladies that have been forced into prostitution that wouldn’t have
liked to go into it ordinarily. After winning their conscience to buy into the
idea we started meeting churches to partner with us. That’s why
anywhere we are going, we try to use the facility of the church to do
the training. So I can tell you that there are some place that we still
have to go and look for money to get some other things. So that’s how
we have been doing it since we started.
So I can boldly tell you that
we have trained over 8,750 people for the past four years since we
started the empowerment and more than 85 per cent of them are on their
own now doing what they were taught and over 500 families are feeding
from them. A lot of testimonies come out from them on regular basis
and that’s gives us encouragement. I can tell you the truth most of
the time we have to go hungry; no food to eat but we still struggle to
make sure that somebody somewhere gets what he is supposed to get.
We continued doing it because we believe that somebody’s life is being touched. By grace of God even with that N5000 we have a lot of professionals doing it the right way. They have a lot of eateries and our students are there and they are doing very fine because God
supported us. He knows what we are doing for humanity. So I’m pleading with people anywhere they are even if they don’t have the money, to come and get the training because God sent us to try our best to ensure that people that do not have the opportunity to go and pay those huge amount of money to get the training are trained through this project. We also ensure that they have good quality training in line with our motto
which is “quality and service to humanity”.
How did the inspiration come to you?
The inspiration came from the fact that a lot of people are outside there suffering without people helping them. I was working in a Specialist Hospital, it got to a stage that my salary was close to N220,000 but my house rent was N180,000 per year and I will go and
borrow before I will pay house rent. I’m supposed to use one month salary to pay house rent and still have some baIance but I can’t. Even when my children did not fall sick, my wife did not go to hospital then I started asking myself what’s happening. Then I heard it clearly that people are suffering and you are enjoying yourself.
So I met some pastors and they said ‘Samuel! You need to go back.’ And I told them
there was no salary but they said if God said go that I should go and I left. But inside of me I knew that a lot of people are depending on what God gave to me. And I knew that when I was with that Hospital I was spending for myself only and that’s why God did not allow me to have peace. Since the day we started this empowerment that happiness has always been with me. I heard it again that ‘by making other people happy that is when your happiness will come’. So all I do every day now is to make sure that somebody is happy through our work. That’s why when I get to a centre I will shout, do everything, try to talk to them and I will tell them that this thing that you have got from us don’t let it be with you, go and bless somebody. If you can’t do that for now go and assist your husband. If you are a student go to school.
Don’t wait for your parents to give you money start doing something. There is no selfishness here because anybody that is selfish, I try and remove that person because it’s in our plan. God really helped in the sense that there is no instructor that joins us that his life will not change. They always testify to me and we believe that when you touch
somebody’s life your life will not remain the same.
As an experienced entrepreneur what are your greatest challenges?
Finance! Finance! Finance because when you get to some churches we
will still pay. The security will collect money; the one that will
wash and clean the environment will collect money; the church
authority gets something. Also we have to pay money for advertisement.
So the major challenge is finance. If we see someone that will sponsor our empowerment programme, it will make the job very easy for us.
What is your advice to young entrepreneurs?
Those young people that are idle that are out there looking for white
collar jobs should go and get something else that can better their
lives instead of idling about. The bible said, “I will bless the work
of thy hands”. When you have something doing with your hand you will be
comfortable. So they should look for something rather than depending
on their parents or somebody somewhere. Secondly, for young
entrepreneurs the beginning may not be easy they should try and then
do what they have passion in .They shouldn’t do what they don’t have
passion in because when you have passion in something you will stay long in
it whether it pays or it does not pay. So let them do what they have
passion in, continue in it and before they know it God will open the
way for them. And lastly, they should pray because work without prayer
will resort to frustration.