Fatima Ganduje: Touching Lives Across the Country

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Jameelah Nuhu Sanda writes about the efforts of Fatima Ganduje, the daughter of Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, to help people in communities across the country through her non-governmental organisation, Let’s Talk Humanity (LTH)

First class graduate of the American University of Nigeria, Fatima Ganduje has for long been fine-tuning her plans to penetrate and change the face of indigenous NGOs in Nigeria. After leading a Nigerian delegation to the United Nations (UN) for a youth leadership summit, she grasped the basics of what it means to be a policy maker and through volunteer work within IDP camps in Yola as an undergraduate, she has come to appreciate what gaps in leadership could mean to ordinary citizens, the great majority without a voice or the energy to articulate their pain.

Let’s Talk Humanity, as an initiative, was born in Maiduguri and became active even before officially being registered in 2015. The thought process, the vision, was the starting point. Essentially the basis of the NGO was to attempt to make a change in the lives of the weakest in the society.
The modus operandi is simple – identify the gaps in the delivery of social services and then attempt to fill these gaps by active engagement with concerned agencies and institutions to complement existing service delivery.

To this end, Let’s Talk Humanity tailors its approach to be environment specific, in areas where it would be best to enrich the lives of the children by empowering their mothers and families.
LTH has designed initiatives such as LTH women empowerment projects. Let’s Talk Humanity partnering stakeholders and community leaders kicked off an ambitious rural women’s empowerment scheme, the rationale being every young child would benefit in families where the mother is economically active, if the women were given support.

A seven-week programme was then embarked upon, which first identified women who were registered with the local government development agencies, and many had been trained in formal and vocational settings.
Over 260 groups in Kiru local government and also Bebeji local government were granted interventions, costing over N20 million and benefiting over 2,000 families across the state. The impact was quickly felt after the planting season when it became clear that the injection of funds, fertiliser, high grade seeds, modern design and sewing machines, electric and diesel driven industrial grain grinding machines were driving down costs and prices. A 5 per cent drop in the cost of food stuffs and services was noted.
In other instances, LTH has direct engagement with the disabled and impaired, conduct a needs assessment and design programme around enriching and broadening the opportunities of the children.

These include LTH Projects for the disabled and impaired: The youth, particularly, the visually and hearing-impaired have found a voice in LTH, the organisation works directly with academic administrators to develop a framework to enrich the lives of impaired children across the nation.
The first project was a workshop at the SES Special Education School Tudun Maliki Kano, where 1,500 hearing and visually impaired students were put through an intensive three-week workshop to reorient their focus and sharpen their ambition.

LTH provided the school with a hundred special desktop computers which utilised modern text to speech technology, teacher training was the first phase of the project then the students formed the nexus of phase two. It provided intensive teacher training that lasted over three weeks, benefiting over 1,500 pupils who had learned about computers but never touched or seen one before.

The organisation also provided a basic welfare package for the institution based on the needs assessment carried out independently by staff members, in which it was observed that though the instructors were capable, the school was in dire need of basic support material, such as braille paper, mosquito nets, exercise books, antibiotics, collapsible walking canes for the visually impaired, sanitary materials and much more.

This first project kicked off a steady stream of projects which has touched the lives of many across the nation.
In other instances, LTH finds communities with very little footprint of disabled children, and the fact that LTH is active within that community prompts the organisation to execute a direct programme to benefit children regardless of their physical status.

For instance, while the women empowerment project was being designed, LTH also engaged the local community to develop a project to directly benefit youth who had no disabilities.
Another example of the LTH youth education projects is the Makama Memorial Primary/Secondary School Kano, where a modern computing lab complete with printers and scanners was built, benefiting over 500 pupils.

Another avenue by which LTH often indirectly opens up opportunities for youth development is by conducting special projects where it is evident that the result would benefit more children.
In Nasarawa State for instance, the NGO found a community in which many children spent their days travelling many miles for clean water for their families use, leaving little room and time for education; water being such an essential resource for human survival. LTH designed programmes which then opened up avenues to enable the children focus on education and other essentials and the community recreation centre have been catered for to a measurable degree.

This problem was solved by initiating the Yeyedu Community village clean water initiative in Badna, Nasarawa State, completed in January 2017, which is benefiting a settlement of over 5,000 individuals.
The LTH team recently engaged consultants in the medical profession to kick off a nationwide intervention for children in need of hearing aids, to cover much ground before 2017 World Hearing Day coming up on March 3; by providing 1,000 hearing aids first in Imo State in February and then Oyo State before shifting focus back to the northern region.
The core of LTH human resources is drawn from volunteers, professionals in different fields all lending their expertise to further the cause of elevating the Nigerian child.