A Lifeline for the Vulnerable

Silver Lining for the Needy Initiative‎, a non-governmental organisation, has distinguished itself through the support it gives to vulnerable women, youths and children, especially in rural communities. Seriki Adinoyi writes

Worried by the increasing rate of maternal and child deaths especially in rural communities in Nigeria, Silver Lining for the Needy Initiative (SLNI)‎, a non-governmental organisation, recently took love and care to the door steps of two rural communities in Jigawa State, where the people, especially women of child-bearing age were educated on the necessary precautions they need to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding of their babies to reduce avoidable deaths.

During the event, which held on the 20th of September, 2017, the SLNI adequately empowered the women of childbearing age with the basic and requisite knowledge they needed before, during and after pregnancy, and later distributed 400 packs of Birthing Kits for pregnant women at Sundimina Primary Healthcare Centre and General Hospital, Birnin Kudu, both in Jigawa State.

The talks, which centered mainly on educating the women in the community, included topics such as; the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, good nutrition during pregnancy, importance of ante-natal healthcare, essence of personal hygiene and clean environment and demonstration of proper hand washing procedure.

Speaking at the event, representative of Silver Lining for the Needy Initiative, Mr. Uba Salahu said the purpose of the event was to improve the lives of women and children in rural communities by equipping them with the right knowledge on simple strategies to live healthy for themselves and their children, and to educate pregnant women on the different stages in pregnancy and the differences in their experiences.

He reiterated that the event aims at reducing maternal and child mortality rate in Jigawa State by distributing birthing kits and encouraging delivery in health facilities, to create more awareness on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and proper nutrition for both mother and child, and to emphasise the importance of routine immunisation as the best way to reduce child mortality in the state.

Ms. Amina Adam, another staff of SLNI said, “Our sole mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable women, youths and children in rural communities through campaigns and interventions on healthcare, education and empowerment. We are working towards ensuring that no mother or child dies needlessly as a result of pregnancy or pregnancy related issues in Nigeria.”

She also advised the women to take their ante-natal care seriously and should also try to do some exercise to keep fit during pregnancy. She emphasised the need to take their routine medication seriously to avoid congenital malformation associated with newborns.

While explaining that the birthing kits given to them were not for home use, Adam advised them to go along with them to the clinic on the day of delivery.

She also told them that the ante-natal care was to ensure that mother and child were properly taken care of to avoid any form of avoidable deaths.

Earlier in a welcome address, Abdullahi Malami a healthcare provider in charge of Sundimina Primary Healthcare Centre told the women to make utmost use of the opportunity provided them by SLNI, adding that the organisation was a trusted one that has carried out a lot of programmes in different states within Nigeria.

Adam took her time to demonstrate the proper way for hand washing, and strongly advised the women on its importance before breast feeding their babies, cooking, eating, and after using the toilet, noting that proper washing of hand should be done to avoid contamination with germs and diseases. She also advised that mothers should ensure they wash their children’s hands, adding that hands should always be washed properly rather than just running them through water or using the same water in the bowl to rinse hands.

On exclusive breastfeeding and good nutrition during pregnancy, Salahu advised that poor nutrition by mothers during pregnancy could affect the babies’ developmental process, warning his audience to take proper vitamins and balance diet to enable the proper growth of their unborn babies. “This proper feeding also encourages the production of breast milk for the babies when they are born. And the breast milk builds a strong immunity for the babies against infections and childhood diseases such as pneumonia, measles, diarrhea, and the like.”

The women, who were also given the opportunity to ask questions in order to get clarifications on grey areas, appreciated SLNI for the birthing kits.

Hajiya Amina Mohammed, the Nurse in charge of the General Hospital, Birin Kudu appreciated SLNI for helping to make their job earlier, urging it to keep up the good job. She also solicited for assistance on behalf of the hospital for items such as cooker, refrigerator, and disposable hand gloves.

Zayyana Muhammed, the matron in charge of the PHC, also appreciated SLNI for living their dreams of living above the obvious limitations in Nigeria.

Sagir Musa Ahmed, founder of Jigawa Young Professional Forum (JYPF), who was also in attendance, appreciated SLNI’s commitment to reducing maternal mortality in the state by educating the women and distributing birthing kits to many pregnant women throughout the state. “The birthing kits distribution in Birnin Kudu today is a continuation of the great project initiated by the Founder/CEO SLNI, Hauwa Abbas and her wonderful team. Thanks to the SLNI’s generosity because it has helped in combating maternal mortality and improving mother-child healthcare across the state.”
Indeed, the recent programme in Birin Kudu was not the first in the line of humanitarian activities organised by the group.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Silver Lining for the Needy Initiative (SLNI), Hauwa Abbas said his organisation is a non-profit organisation established in 2009 to promote the spread of humanitarian aid amongst the impoverished through its broad spectrum of projects. She added that her organisation works to improve the standard of living of Nigerians, with particular interest in Youths, Vulnerable Children (YVC) and women. “Our mission is to implement projects towards realising the dreams of living above limitation in the society,” she stressed.

SLNI core mandate, according to Abbas, includes; to subsidise for school tuition/boarding fees, giving HIV/AIDS and malaria awareness through voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) in communities, distribution of food supplies, drugs, utilities and other items to the less-privileged, annual Summer School activities for the kids at orphanage homes, and vaccines-related programmes (promoting routine immunisation against pneumonia, measles, poliomyelitis, and others).

Others are fun, outdoor activities and trips to amusement parks for disadvantaged children, to improve the lives of children and ensuring their health and development ought to be a prime concern to all communities, to ensure the health of women preconception, during and the postnatal period, and family planning for adolescents and women to ensure child spacing in order to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality.

Operating along three broad areas; social development, healthcare, and women empowerment, SLNI has for instance, been involved in similar activities across all the geopolitical zones in the country in the past eight years during which it has reached out to the needs of many Nigerians, especially the women.

It had organised several other medical outreaches in Nigeria where the organisation carried out voluntary counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS, malaria awareness, distributed condoms and IEC materials as well as mosquito nets to 280 people in Mpape community, Abuja.

A similar outreach was also conducted for artisans and traders at the Karu Motor Park, in Abuja where over 62 persons agreed to be tested for HIV.

The recent World Humanitarian Day saw SLNI donating about 300 birthing kits and mosquito nets to the pregnant women at three communities in Mangu Local Government area of Plateau State to assist the women meet the requirements for delivery and for malaria prevention for mother and child.
The event which held at Primary Healthcare Centres in Kwombe, Kopal and Bungun-Gida communities witnessed a large turnout of women, who were on ground to learn on ante-natal and post-natal healthcare and life style.

During the 2011 World Pneumonia Day celebration, SLNI partnered with Vaccine Network for Disease Control (VNDC) to execute an innovative programme with the theme ‘Fashion for Pneumonia’. The event was sponsored in partnership with International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC).

In the same year, the organisation undertook a summer school at Bema Homes, Piwoyi with 67 children between the ages of 3 to 18 years in attendance. It lasted for two weeks and presented a unique learning experience for each participant.
With the help of a donor agency, Quanteq Computers, SLNI donated six new desktop computers to the ICT centre of Bema Homes for the less-privileged, and sponsored five children through secondary school education in selected state boarding schools in the FCT-Abuja. All of whom graduated in 2014.

Also, in January 2017, Silver Lining collaborated with Michael Falade, the lead investigator on breastfeeding practices for Sick and Vulnerable Children between the ages of zero to 12 months in Nigeria (an independent study among breastfeeding mothers, health facilities and caregivers). Fieldwork for data collection was conducted in communities and healthcare facilities in Pwoyi and Zhayi II, in Abuja. The national study was expected to document information on breastfeeding within an hour of birth, typical daily diets of babies, breast-milk expression practices, challenges babies/mothers have with breastfeeding and the management practices.

It was also meant to document how health facilities and practitioners support mothers and babies in terms of access to lactation support, to pumps, and to donor breast milk. Partners on this project include; Leith Greenslade (Just Actions LLC), Dr. Francis Ohanyido (WAAPH), and Felicity Ukoko (Wellbeing Foundation).

Recently, SLNI in partnership with Vitamin Angels, worked to promote and ensure healthy lives and well-being of 3,000 children under the age of five by distributing micronutrients such as multivitamins, vitamin A, and albendazole (de-worming tablet) in urban slums, among vulnerable groups and hard to reach rural population groups.

Expanding its frontier to reduce maternal and infant mortality in Nigeria, SLNI opened its Jigawa State office in March 2016 where it carried out community programmes tagged saving mothers and babies in Nigeria; the programme targeted pregnant women in rural communities.

Similar gesture has been extended to Dutse Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC), Zhayi-1(PHC), Zhayi-2, Piwoyi (PHC) and Aleyita (PHC) communities in Abuja; Ambursa (PHC) and Ujariyo (PHC) communities in Kebbi State; as well as Sakwaya (PHC), Yalwan damai (PHC), Unguwar’ya (PHC), Kofar Arewa (PHC), Gauna (PHC) in Hadejia Emirate; and other communities in Dutse, Jigawa State where over 3,000 birthing kits, long lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets, vitamin supplements and chlorhexidine gels were distributed to the pregnant women.

Throwing more light on SLNI programmes, Abbas said, “We also provided support for several community projects in Nasarawa State where we donated birthing kits and chlorhexidine gels to pregnant women.”

She said that in an ongoing partnership with Marie Stopes Nigeria, SLNI has conducted eight community health outreach programmes for cervical cancer screening and uptake of family planning in eight communities (Piwoyi Primary Health Care Centre (PHC), Daki-biu, Gishiri, Zhayi-1 (PHC), Zhayi-2, Jikoko (PHC), Kagini and Dutse-Alhaji communities within Abuja FCT, adding that a total of 189 women have been screened for cervical cancer and 236 have taken up a type of family planning.
Abbas revealed that “Since the inception of an SLNI programme – Pearl ACTS Support Group in 2012, it has shown unprecedented success in empowering and encouraging women who have been recently diagnosed with HIV, such that in the first quarter of 2016 alone, a total of 36 women were supported and empowered.

“As part of our health development initiatives, SLNI has also partnered Rotary Clubs within Abuja for medical outreach programmes to raise awareness, support interventions and educate the people, especially mothers in rural communities about vital aspects of their health and development as well as that of their children. “In the first three months of 2016, we partnered with Rotary Club of Wuse Central, Rotary Club of Abuja, Rotary Club of Maitama, Rotary Club of Abuja Federal and Rotary Club of Abuja.”

In terms of raising vibrant youths, SLNI had embarked on Youth Matters; an insightful programme focused on adolescent and young people between the ages of 12-24 years who make up the majority of Nigeria’s population. A series of town hall meetings aimed at generating nationwide conversation on substance abuse, sexual health issues, youth mental health and its effect on the health and development of young people in Nigeria were held.

In the South-east, SLNI partnered with The Great Foundation, to execute a two-day health awareness programme in Umuoshi community, Umuahia, Abia State where 203 pupils and their teachers were educated on how to prevent communicable diseases such as pneumonia, cholera, diarrhea and many others. Ten desks and benches were also donated to the school, even as gifts were presented to the top three pupils in all the classes, 100 widows and widowers as well as 112 orphans and vulnerable children had access to free medical services, including eye test, blood pressure tests, free medicated glasses and anti-hypertensive drugs, and all participants were presented with gift bags.

SLNI became one of the major partners of the Federal Ministry of Health which planned for the three-day event to celebrate World Prematurity Day, which also included a one-hour live radio talk show to educate the public on prematurity issues.
On World Pneumonia Day, SLNI partnered with FMoH, Save One Million Lives (SOML), Wellbeing Foundation, Little Big Souls, UNICEF, USAID, WHO and other partners to conduct a seminar on how the government and other partners could collaborate to reduce the pneumonia death toll of children in Nigeria.

It also organised an outreach for flood victims in Taraba State in January 2013, during which medical, sanitary and food supplies as well as stationery were donated to victims of the flood disaster in Ibi Local Government Area of the state.
Recently highlighting on the vision that gave birth to SLNI, Abbas said it was conceived to provide free healthcare services for women, children and youths in rural communities in order to reduce pregnancy related complications, maternal and childhood mortality in these communities, and to provide health and moral support for women living with HIV/AIDS in rural communities in Nigeria.

She added that aside from raising awareness and educating people living in rural communities on health related issues, especially preventable communicable diseases. “The organisation was to provide support in healthcare for orphans and vulnerable children as a way of reducing childhood mortality in Nigeria, and empower communities to be self-sufficient through a wide range of community and social development programmes.”

To think that a Nigerian non-governmental organisation, owned by a Nigerian lady, has made this giant stride is something that should excite every Nigerian, and should indeed encourage everyone to believe that with focus and resilience the nation can collectively be changed into the ‘Nigeria of our dream’. Thumb up for Hauwa Abbas! She is indeed the face of a true Nigerian woman.

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