Ahead of the Sallah celebrations, StarTimes Nigeria embarked on visits to select charity homes in Lagos to celebrate with less-privileged children, writes Peter Uzoho
 
Over the last two years, StarTimes Nigeria has identified and adopted charity as an integral part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives aimed at touching the lives of less-privileged children around its host communities in the country.
Every quarter, the company selects charity homes from a pull of many states it does business with, to visit and render some support to them. This, it does by providing them with essential items for their survival, ranging from food items, to clothing, and to even, providing them with important appliances they need for their comfort. The company follows this up by enquiring from them their future needs to enable it make provision for them before the next visit.
When on August 31, it paid a surprise visit to two charity homes in Lagos ahead of the Salah celebrations, there was the feeling of sense of belonging amongst their hosts.
“Thank you for coming to our home; thank you for your kindness to us. God will bless you,” five-year-old Favour warmly said to StarTimes team. Young Favour is one of the children at the Mother Theresa Orphanage, Ketu, one of the homes visited. She was playing with her fellow children under the watchful eyes of their caregiver, Miss Helen Ikogo when members of the team were ushered into their rooms. Favour could not but express gratitude to their August visitors and benefactors. She was full of excitement for seeing such an organisation come to identify with them not minding where fate has placed them.
Favour and her fellow children were indeed overwhelmed by the amount of food and other household items that were given to them for their sustenance. At least, they were sure of what to eat for the next three months. The entrance of the delegates in their rooms, the delegates exchanging handshakes and talking with them, really gave them the assurance that they are not forgotten. Seeing members of the company’s team in their gorgeous outlook would no doubt, make them want to be like them and have a positive view of life other than where they see themselves which was part of the purpose for the visit. 
Joining her beloved children in showing gratitude to their visitors, Chief Matron of the Home, Sister Mary Mbuva, thanked StarTimes Nigeria for extending their blessing to the children and, in turn, prayed that God would reward them accordingly.
Mbuva, a Tanzanian, who is managing the home that has a population of 60 children, must have, through the visit by a responsible organisation like StarTimes, seen the hospitality and caring nature of Nigerians. Even with short notice, she never expected that the company would be that eager to want to come to them to render such kind of support. Although, not given to much talk, her mood really captured the impact of the visit by the organisation. Mbuva was even more surprised when the team requested to know what they would need that were not in the items provided. Hesitantly, she could reel them out.
“We need many things,” she uttered. “We need heater; we need tomato, milk, golden morn, cornflakes, adult pampers,” Mbuva mentioned.
Seeing the team off to their cars, she was engaged in cordial interaction and, her face was full of smiles as she profusely thanked them for coming. At the same time, the delegates assured her that all that she had requested for would be provided to them come next visit.
Leaving Mother Theresa Orphanage, StarTimes team moved to the Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria, in Surulere, where they met with children suffering from Autism and Down syndrome. Due to the holidays, only few, out of about 45 children in the foundation were around to receive the blessing from their kind visitors. They were watching film with the Vice-President of the foundation, Mr. Muyiwa Majekodunmi, in a cheerful atmosphere when the team arrived.
StarTimes immediately presented to them, branded T-shirts as their first gifts, which got them excited and, they could not hesitate to try them out while posing for photograph. Food items of different kinds were equally donated to them by the organisation. 
Speaking after receiving the gifts on behalf of the foundation, Vice-President of the Foundation, Majekodunmi, said the visit by StarTimes was a manifestation of the fact that more awareness was being created on the issue of Down syndrome and other related diseases in the country.
He said lack of adequate awareness of the health defect and its management had led to too many problems in families. He noted that marriages have broken up because people don’t understand anything about the health challenge.
“You see husband blaming wife; wife blaming the husband; family members accusing either of the spouses. Children are abandoned by parents simply because they are confirmed to be patients of the disease,” Majekodunmi said.
“And for coming here unannounced they have done the right thing,” he noted. “It’s really a privilege to have them here and also a pleasant surprise and we’ll like to see more people coming around. We hope this is a sign of a new relationship and, like I’ll always say, ‘the sky is not the limit’; there is more that can always be done beyond the gifts,“ he said.
Majekodunmi explained that the foundation was established because his son, Solomon, is a Down syndrome patient and wanted to ensure that he took adequate care of him through the foundation rather than throwing him away.  He pointed out that the children have some good talents that need to be developed.
“They’re not daft, they have potentials. They have talents that need to be developed to get the best out of them. So we all need to join in ensuring that we render the support they need to be useful to themselves and useful to the society as well. We’re hoping that other organisations will be encouraged to coming in and support what we’re doing as StarTimes has just done.
He noted that there are lots of benefits from supporting charity and called on government, corporate organisations and well-meaning individuals to contribute towards helping the less-privileged children.
Giving insight into the visitations and the donations, Chief Executive Officer of StarTimes Nigeria, Justin Zhang, said it was a way of giving back to the children who, he said, needed the items most, noting that they decided to focus on Lagos this quarter.
Zhang, who spoke through the Manager, Public Relations, StarTimes Nigeria, Mr. Funmi Balogun, said the organisation would lend more support to the children, explaining that the gifts presented to them were all the basic things they needed to keep them going.
He assured that StarTimes would participate actively in the Awareness Walk coming up in October, which is being planned by the Foundation. “We’ll support them with some other things they need. While we were in there, we discovered that they may need a bigger generator set. So we’re thinking big and I know that by the next three months when we’ll decide to go on another drive, we know that for sure they will get better things from us going forward.
Zhang added: “What we’ve given them may appear little to someone’s eyes but to them it’s a big deal. They’re very excited that an organisation like StarTimes remembered them. Look at the gifts we gave them, you could see how happy they were and, it makes us happy as an organisation to see these kids happy as well. So if any organisation who deems it fit to support kids that are less-privileged and does so it will be good thing and I believe  if organisations can partner or come together to do things like this the children will be more better.”