Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
Over 200 children have benefitted from a scholarship programme instituted by a non-governmental organisation, Shining Light Kids Outreach.
The outreach, started in 2010, has enabled indigent and out of school children to acquire education so as to contribute their quota to the society.
Speaking at a recent workshop titled ‘Building the Nigerian of our Dreams’ in Abuja, the Senior Pastor, Shining Light Kingdom Builders Ministry, Tunde Dada, said the beneficiaries come from extremely rough and underprivileged communities.
“These children are from communities where most men are alcoholics and women are prostitutes. We would love to have a boarding house where we could board some of our children so we can see the transformation we desire.
“It is difficult for us to get the transformation we desire with them living in that environment. Over the years four of our senior secondary students have gotten pregnant and had to drop out of school. Right now one of our high performing kids that was once head girl is pregnant. Her grandmother has driven her out of the house. She wants to stay on in school so we are working with her to make that happen.”
According to Dada: “In 2010 while on an outreach to a community of displaced people comprising mainly ex-soldiers and members of their families that had come to Abuja for their pensions but had gotten stranded, my late wife and I discovered a 13-year-old boy called Segun Adeyemi who had not started primary one. We located his mother who explained that his ex-soldier father was dead and she could not afford to send him to school.
“We were moved enough to find a primary school close by. We found out that for N15,000, we could put him in school, so we went ahead and put him in school. Very soon we discovered that there were many others in the same situation. They were of school age but were not in school because their parents could really not afford to send them to school. With the help of friends we were able to put 40 of them in school. Since then we have had over 200 children benefit from our scholarship programme.”
He added: “We take care of them fully; we buy their textbooks, pay for their uniforms, shoes and school bags. Initially they were not doing so well in school so we did two things that really worked. We started supplying them lunch in school every day. We have done this for eight years and it made a huge difference in their performance.
“We have volunteers that spend two hours with them every Saturday teaching them English Language, Maths and Bible Study. We have volunteers from all walks of life and other churches. All our programmes are open to all people.”
He explained that the outreach has tried to involve as many people as possible in the different aspect of the programme, adding that the thing to note is that “these children are not numbers but precious lives. Once they come on board we have to continue taking care of them. Commitment to them has to be ongoing.
“Over 1,000 children have been powerfully impacted by the feeding programme and Saturday classes that are open to any child of any faith that shows up on any Saturday. Our volunteers spend time with them, loving them, teaching them and equipping them. Some of our children are now in secondary schools and we look forward to having them go to university.”
While stating that the programme has been successful, he added: “We have seen transformation in the children. We send the bulk of our children to the same primary school for ease of administration.
“We would like to replicate the programme in other primary schools in other areas so more children and families can benefit from what we are doing. It costs us N3.2 million yearly to run the programme in a school/community.”
While calling on everyone to play a part in the development of the Nigerian child, he said, “prayerfully find out what part you are to play in the development of your location and environment and play that part faithfully. If we all do this, our nation will be great.”