Embracing Society’s Rejects


Out of love for children forgotten by society, the Managing Director, Deksy Telecomms, Mr. Adebowale Ogunkoya, celebrated his 60th birthday with children at the Heart of Gold Children Hospice in Lagos, writes Peter Uzoho

On a sunny afternoon, after several days of torrential rainfall that wreaked havoc in Lagos, a Good Samaritan showered love to the less-privileged children at the Heart of Gold Children Hospice, Surulere, a home for children abandoned by society.

Adebowale Ogunkoya, Managing Director of Deksy Telecomms, attained the age of 60 on Monday, July 10, 2017. Prior to this day, he had been preoccupied with how to celebrate his 60th birthday in a more socially responsible manner and, in a way that would make meaningful impact to humanity.

Even when he has all it takes to hold a trending party in any of the hotels in Lagos, and hire Basket Mouth to make what may pass for the greatest noise in town, he decided to let all that go just to touch the lives of the children. Although, it was not difficult for him to pay a dozen of cooling vans, complemented with all manner of inter-continental dishes on long, extended buffet, to get his guests and well-wishers satiated in such extravaganza, his special recognition for these children was rather more important to him. Ogunkoya deemed it a responsibility to come down to earth to be a blessing to them. The resources that would have been spent on fruitless feast somewhere else; he channeled all to attend to the needs of the poorest of the poor.

Due to his extraordinary humility coupled with his value for the downtrodden, he decided to come low to identify with them. He has seen the sufferings, pains and disconnect experienced by the less-privileged children in the society, particularly, the ones at the Heart of Gold Children Hospice and resolved to defy social norm, to enable him extend love to them during his birthday celebration. “It’s not difficult for me to say I want to rent a hall and move in there with my friends to celebrate my birthday, but I think doing it this way is more profitable to me and humanity,” Ogunkoya told THISDAY.

You could see the joy on the faces of the children as Ogunkoya took them to the dance floor. Balloons exploded at will, as music led by the band, rent the air. Ogunkoya, his ‘beloved children’ and guests, were engaged in a free for all dance session, as hands swung back and forth, legs in motion, even as waists twerked in agreement with the rhythm of the instruments. He was clad in a clean white caftan, with well-polished black shoe to match. Wearing a neatly-cut hair, with designer’s spectacles, he was full of smile as his captivating set of teeth kept sparkling.

The light-skinned, tall, happy celebrant made a special cake not just for his birthday, but for these special children as shown by the cartoon characters designed on the cake. He was doing all these to appreciate God for keeping him alive in spite of his imperfection. “I’m 60 and, I’m grateful to Almighty God for keeping me till this day because quite a number of people not even half my age have passed on but God is keeping me alive. So it’s an opportunity for me to thank God. I think it’s also an opportunity for me to let people know that this Home exists,” he explained.

He did all these to quench his hunger to show love to the unloved. “I’ve been looking forward to celebrating with the poorest of the poor and those that need our presence,” Ogunkoya said with a feeling of satisfaction. Although it was a working day and the peak of working hour, he pulled his family and friends to the Home to bring it to people’s consciousness.
“I couldn’t invite many people because today is Monday and people have gone to work. I expected not more than 10 people but here we have more than that number,” he noted.

Ogunkoya loves putting smiles on their faces as he sees doing that as gain. “Celebrating with them I derive eternal joy and also increase my sense of humility. It helps me to know that I’m not extraordinary. Coming to see them and to celebrate with them I find out that the only difference between us and them is just privilege which God gives to us. Before God we are not better than them. It is God that knows why they are in their situation. So we should show them love.”

According to him, “these are children who we expect to grow normally but you can see that their states are quite pathetic. Almost 90 per cent of them were abandoned. Some were dropped on the road side, some under the gutter and they were brought here. So I said let me come here and celebrate with them and to see what I can do to assist them,” he noted.

There was much for the children and the guests to eat and drink as he ensured that everyone was satisfied. Aside providing refreshment at the occasion, Ogunkoya presented a number of food items, beverages, toiletries and the likes to the Home for the children. He provided the Home with a big power generating set to ensure they have constant power.

To enable him and his guests get a better picture of the condition of the children, Ogunkoya led a tour to the children’s halls. They saw the children in their bunks, as prayers were said for them. His family members and friends having seen the real states of the children and the need to support them, donated money individually to support their friend and relative in his mission of help for the children.

Ogunkoya expects people to, on their own, be visiting the Home for the sake of the children. “I expect a lot of people to be coming here because they really need help just like every other person. We still have a number of them on the streets.”
He used the opportunity to remind government at all levels of their responsibility to society. “I just want to let the government know that they have the responsibility not only for their children but for the society. It’s a responsibility which I think each and every one of us needs to fulfill,” he said.

One of Ogunkoya’s friends and Grand Patron of Children Ministry, Mr. Okaro Ifeanyichukwu, said “We’re here to bring joy to these children. Having come here to celebrate with Ogunkoya and the children, I have had a second thought. So I’ll go home and discuss with my wife so we can come back here to see how we can help.” He also enjoined others to go home and think of what they could do individually to contribute to the welfare of the children. Citing Luke 18: 10, he advised the guests not to despise little children, especially, the less-privileged ones, as the ones at the Hospice.

Another friend of Ogunkoya and Lawyer, Mr. Taiwo Kolawojo, thanked God for Ogukoya’s life, adding “I wish him the best in life. God will take care of his children.” He said he was moved when he came to the Home and saw the children’s condition. According to Kolawojo, “there is no way you will come here without being moved. He donated a cash sum of N100, 000 to the Home in support of Ogunkoya.
On her part, Ogunkoya’s younger sister, Mrs. Bola Ogunkoya-Akpeji, who described her brother’s birthday as a time of jubilee and joy, said the celebration was scriptural, adding that God encouraged people to invite the poor in the society when they are having a feast. She said the essence of their coming was to bless the children.

In her appreciation, Founder, Heart of Gold Children Hospice, Mrs. Lola Adedoyin, thanked Ogunkoya for celebrating his birthday “with her children”. “So I want to thank you for celebrating your 60th birthday with my children. Your 70th birthday you will celebrate here. Your 80th birthday you will celebrate here. You will continue to celebrate here with my children. God will provide your needs for you,” she prayed.

Adedoyin implored the guests to always be coming to see the children and spend some time with them, stressing that “It’s not about the money; it’s about spending time with my children. Money will go so far but your commitment is more important. I cannot be alone without a multitude of people. So I enjoin everyone to come around once in a while to spend some time with them. Only me cannot carry their burden. I expect all of us to join in taking care of them,” she said.