Helping Hands from the Indian Community in Nigeria

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Chief Sanjay Jain, President, Indian Cultural Association in Nigeria

Iwonume Ekeghe writes that in its five decades of existence, the Indian Cultural Association, the apex umbrella body of all Indians in Nigeria, has impacted it’s hosts communities through charitable donations in areas of community development and health interventions

For over five decades, the Indian Cultural Association, the apex umbrella body of all Indians in Nigeria, has been in existence. And for those five decades, their activities have been tailored towards providing succor to their host communities through charitable donations in areas of community development and health interventions. The organisation has equally provided a veritable platform for interaction between the host and the guest communities.

Recently, the organisation embarked on a visit to Ikorodu Rehabilitation Center with the objective of providing charitable succor. Meanwhile, their visit to the centre was not a one off-thing. It started over a year ago with countless visits to enquire what their immediate needs are. It was gathered that although the Lagos State Government provides for all their needs, the centre is always in short supply of food due to the increasing number of inmates, which affects the balance of supplies. Having identified the core need of the centre, the association donated three truckloads of utility items and gave them equipment like fridge and deep freezers as well as drugs, which they needed badly.

Charitable Impact
Speaking at the sidelines of the event, the President of Indian Cultural Association, Chief Sanjay Jain, who has been in Nigeria for close to three decades with a wide range of experience in almost all the sectors of the Nigerian economy, emphasised that the organisation plans to continuously provide the centre with food supplies and other items as well as special drugs they may need on a regular basis.

He further said the organisation has in the past made impact with their charitable events in the country. He said: “We have visited Okobaba Destitute Centre, as well as the Little Saint’s Orphanage, where we provided items for their daily needs/welfare. We have also supported and offered relief materials to the Old People’s Home in Regina Mundi Church, Mushin for over fifteen years which is still ongoing. We have made some amount of money available to them to be used to buy the items they need monthly in conjunction with the authorities.

Recalling their impact when there was a bomb blast at the Ikeja Cantonment that saw many people injured and several others displaced he said, “our organisation moved in to provide millions of naira worth of goods ranging from utensils, beds, blankets, clothes and household needs for almost seven days. Also, the organisation has a flagship charity project to provide drinking water facility and we have provided over 100 clean water facilities to various schools in Lagos. We have equally provided clean water facility for budding doctors at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and have also continuously provided succor to indigent Nigerians to take care of their health challenges.”
Again, in doing these charities, the organisation admits its dependence on funds to embark on these projects. To assuage that need, they have a major event in their calendar which coincides with their national festival, which is designed to raise funds for the charity projects they are involved in.

The beauty of the charity projects is that the process of identifying the areas of need for these charities has been simplified. According to Jain, “we have a committee of 32 people as well as a community of over fifty thousand people, so everybody is aware of our activities and mandate and we are in close contact with our people, the Indian High Commission and the host community to seek and get information where people need help.
“We have simplified the process by asking for a request letter from the community and when these request letters are collated, we evaluate the letters and send our team on a fact-finding mission to know if they are really in dire need of what they requested. We have also ensured that our projects are selected where a larger number of people will benefit, even as we evaluate their need in terms of priority before embarking on the project.”

Positive Feedback
According to Jain, the feedback from the impacted communities has been ernomous. He expressed belief that with the support of everyone, they would be able to do more for the host community, so that they feel their presence in a more positive way.
He said: “The positive feedback we get from the host community encourages us to do more. My community has excellent and huge faith in me and I Thank God for this honour and it propels me to put more efforts in my service to the people. I strive to be better because of the high level of expectation from my people.”

Relationship with Host Communities
On the relationship the association has with the host community, Jain reiterated that it’s has been excellent. He said: “The relationship between the Indian and Nigerian community has been excellent and I can confidently tell you that through several interactions, I have come to realise that there’s mutual respect for each other. For example, high profile Nigerians attends our events willingly and sometimes they will make enquiries when the next cultural event will take place. Most corporate executives in Nigeria who are aware of our events always look forward to attending those events. So, evaluating the enthusiasm towards our events and the brotherly interactions with the Indian community shows ‘loud and clear’ their love and warmth for Indians in Nigeria. So far, so good, I would say that the relationship between Indian community and Nigerians all over the country has been very excellent over the years.”