The Hill City Foundation has brought succour to a visually-impaired orphan, Blessing Yakubu along with 300 other poor Nigerian youths, Ogechukwu Obi reports
For some indigent students whose chances of living out their dreams became slim by reason of life challenges, the assistance from Hill City Foundation annual scholarship grant has given them rare opportunity to make lemonade from the lemon life has thrown at them.
Nigerian youths are known for their resilience such that in spite of the various challenges they are confronted with, they are hardly deterred from pursuing their dreams. And just like dynamites, a flicker of spike is enough to trigger their explosion into global icons.
Some kind-hearted individuals and organisations have come to appreciate the unique quality Nigerian youths are made of, their commitment towards lifting many out of poverty and other obstacles that tend to swallow up their dreams have remained unwavering.
Just like raw gold and other precious treasures are buried in the ground waiting for extractors and refiners to locate, transform and present to the world in a most acceptable, attractive and appreciable value, so are gifts and talents locked in the lives of the less-privileged youths begging to be located, nurtured and channeled in the right direction. And this is a mission the non-profit organisation, Hill City Foundation has embarked on for a decade and half.
Hill City, a non-profit organisation established in 2004 with the vision to confront and arrest what it described as a monumental threat to Nigerian society – abandoned young people with trapped talents and aspirations in its 15th year anniversary and scholarship award ceremony in Lagos recently, doled out scholarships to 300 students from indigent families.
The event attracted youths from different parts of the country. It was a convergence of resilient minds who earnestly seek opportunity to wangle out of the burden of living with a failed vision. And to many beneficiaries of the 2019 Hill City Foundation’s scholarship award, it was a moment of joy as providence that their future left hanging in the balance rescued.
Outstanding among the recipients of the scholarship awards was Blessing Yakubu, a visually-impaired young lady. To Yakubu, the scholarship award was a jinx breaker and a true case of divine intervention in a hopeless situation.
With excitement in her voice, Yakubu, who is currently a student of University of Jos gave THISDAY a peep into her story. According to the visually-impaired orphan who lost both parents between 2010 and 2018, life has been miserable but she was determined not to give up on life. And just like a patient dog, her prayers and hope that a helper will one day locate her eventually became a reality and has spurred her to remain focused. She said that though bruised by many unpleasant experiences in life that tend to steal her smiles, she has managed to remain strong all these years, adding that HCF’s intervention gave her reason to muster a bolder smile.
According to Yakubu who happens to be the first of four children of her late parents, fate laid on her the burden of being a parent over her siblings. She said: “I lost my Dad during the 2010 Jos crisis, while my mother, who became the breadwinner died last year of breast cancer. I was in senior secondary school, SS3 when I lost my sight as a result of illness in 2008.
“ In fact, I became an orphan within the space of eight years. Having congenital blindness made me repeat classes. I couldn’t cope in science class any longer and I had to go back to start from SS1 where I was placed in Arts department. From there, I wrote the West African Examination Council, WAEC in 2013 with the aid of Braille.”
Continuing, she said, “Schooling as a visually-impaired student isn’t just challenging but also very expensive. At a point, life became unbearable for me and my siblings. I applied for HCF scholarship in 2017 but got the support in 2018 while in my 200 level. Today, I got N100,000 because of my challenge and educational needs. Also, my younger sister is also a beneficiary of the scholarship. We are grateful to them for bringing hope to us again.”
For another beneficiary of HCF, Ajayi Martins, his lifelong passion of becoming an entrepreneur in recycling has been fulfilled. Martins said, “I got to know about HCF through my pastor, Momodu in Port Harcourt. My first application was in 2016 and I got it and from 2016 to 2018 when I graduated, this foundation sustained me and saw through.
“I really can’t tell you how I feel or explain but I am excited and extremely grateful to God for this foundation. For me, I will say that Hill City Foundation is the hand of providence and hope restorer. I say this because aside the Educational Support Programme (ESP) grants, the mentorship programme is another tool of inestimable value the foundation uses in nurturing dreams and vision amongst of their beneficiaries so that are properly guided in life.
“The things one learns through the mentorship programme can’t be found in any four walls of schools and they are things that can help in one’s personal growth both in business and any endavour. After I graduated, I was able to start my own business. By God’s grace, I am doing great in the city of Port Harcourt with my brand “Beauty Martins”. This brand is in existence today because of Hill City Foundation.”
Asked what he does, the young graduate said, “I am a sustainable furniture designer, a sociologist by training and an environmentalist by passion. I convert tyres to furniture, which is up-cycling of tyres. I make tyres into tables, chairs for playgrounds, offices, and homes. I also do interior decoration and home finishing and space design for offices, gardens, playgrounds and schools.”
Founder and lead coordinator of Hill City Foundation, Mr. Obi Imemba in his remarks noted that the NGO that started 15 years ago with five staff and could afford N10,000 as grants to its beneficiaries has within the period in review empowered over 2000 individuals with skills and grants that currently stands between N85,000 to N100, 000 yearly to each beneficiary.
Imemba explained that his love for humanity and a mandate from God pushed him into setting the foundation up with people of like minds. He said, “HCF was borne to reach out to very vulnerable young people in our society. I saw that many of them lacked care, hope and support they needed to become who they are meant to be. And through divine inspiration, I took off the journey.
“15 years after, I would say that I am humbled by the result we have attained. Today we are giving 300 scholarship awards. To date, we have given about 2000 university scholarship awards, and we have also mentored all the awardees. In addition, we are giving those that have graduated what it takes to become entrepreneurs especially for those venturing into entrepreneurship. We do that through our Economic Empowerment Programme (EEP).
“Aside that, from the moment we discover an individual, we start with educational support and mentorship programme. For instance, the people we gave the award this year were camped for three days. They were taught basic skills and mentors were assigned to them. After today’s event, mentoring will still continue.
And moved by the generosity of HCF, the Founder, Leadership Seed Foundation, Austin Ufomba pledged to give N50,000 scholarship grants to 20 individuals to pursue their dreams. “I am interested in the development of the next generation of leaders in secondary schools. So, partnering with HCF is going to help the less privileged.”