Sunday Ehigiator reports that the newly opened “Sister in the Deen (SID) Foundation Orphanage”, whose inauguration in Lagos coincided with Nigeria’s Independence Day, wouldn’t only serve as hope, but a new lease of life to orphans
Orphans are described as children who are left with no protection because their parents have passed away. It is the right of every child to be protected, taken care of physically, psychologically and emotionally. And these rights ought not to change when they become orphans, which are by no fault of theirs; however, this is mostly the case of orphans in Nigeria.
The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development estimated that there are 17.5 million Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in Nigeria. The World Bank in a July 2021, report estimated that 4,000 Nigerian children lost one or both parents between March 2020 and July 2021 due to COVID-19-associated death.
According to the report, nearly two million children have been orphaned since the global pandemic started in 2020, and “by the end of June 2021, because of COVID-19, our estimates show that nearly two million children under 18 years, would have lost a mother, father, and/or grandparent caregiver who lived in their household.”
Orphans face enormous challenges relating to their health and development and it is estimated that 95 per cent of OVC do not receive any type of medical, emotional, social, material, or school-related assistance.
Also, they are mostly at risk of malnutrition, and some societal ills such as armed robbery, cultism, prostitution, and vagabondism. This is because orphans have no source of income or a guardian to take care of them.
This informed the decision of the “Sisters in the Deen Foundation”, which first set out as “Truth Bearer”, a platform consisting of Muslims, aiming to nurture their faith and make themselves better representative of true Islam’s virtues, to set up the orphanage.
Speaking more on the inspiration behind the orphanage, Chairperson, Sisters in Deen Foundation, and Custodian of the Orphanage, Dr. Murat Babalola, described the home as a story of gratitude.
According to her, “This home is a story of gratitude, in the sense that Allah says in the holy Quran that when you are grateful, I’ll bless you and multiply you.
“There is also great responsibility that comes with taking care of orphans. There are very strict guidelines when it comes to Islam and taking care of orphans. And we as a helping hand for relief and development understand and take them seriously.
“There is great importance set in the Quran and Sunnah (the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH)) in the treatment of the orphans.
“Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, ‘Whoever caresses the head of an orphan in affection, solely for the sake of Allah, a good deed will be written to his account for every hair over which he passed his hand’.
“He said, ‘I and the person, who looks after an orphan and provides for him, will be in paradise like this’, putting his index and middle fingers together. So the whole idea is to fulfill the will of Allah.”
Speaking on the capacity of the home, she said, it was built to accommodate 18 orphans, comprising six boys and 12 girls.
“That’s the capacity for now. We pray that in the shortest possible time, we would be able to get a bigger place with the support of Allah and the general public. This is an NGO founded for the sake of God and benefit to humanity.
“We don’t discriminate; we take children from any lineage, tribe, and religion. Because they are all humans like us and their situation isn’t their making. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean we should now be trivializing their situation.”
On mode of admission, she said, “we receive the children only by recommendation from the government agency in charge.
“We can’t do anything without the government. So we admit only children sent to us by the government. Even if you find a child, you must go to them. It’s in their discretion to decide where they want the child to go.
“And children admitted here are assured to get the best care they can ever imagine getting, should their parents be alive. It’s going to be a home for them indeed.”
In his own remarks, the Chief Imam of of Ansar-ud-deen Muslim Society of Nigeria, Imam Abdulrahaman Ahmad, said it was a religious duty to care for the orphans because of their special vulnerability.
According to him, “Caring for the orphans is a very important part of the religion of Islam. So much so that the Prophet said, ‘I and whoever cares for the orphans are bound as one’.
“There are so many verses of the Quran talking about caring for the orphans, providing a home for them, allowing them to grow in an environment of love and acceptance for them to have quality education, and not become a burden on the society.
“Hence, this is in fulfillment of the religious obligation of those who are behind the project. This is commendable, something that should be emulated and something we need because if Orphans and other vulnerable children are properly taken care of, society will be better for it.”
Also speaking, the MD/CEO, Lotus Bank, Mrs. Kafilat Araoye, said the initiative was one to be encouraged.
“We should have more of this happening because what this is doing is that, it’s taking our children off the street. Children that are hopeless and could become miscreants. It’s helping our society to become a better place.
“A few women have come together to do this. It has to be supported, it has to continue and others have to come in and support by ensuring that it’s not just a place for children to live in but they have a feeling of home filled with love, care and attention. This is a message of hope to everybody,” she noted.
Also speaking with journalist, Chairman, Modesty Capital Ltd. Mr. Sheriff Yussuf said the establishment of the orphanage was a voluntary intention to serve and give back to the society, by helping the homeless children, nurture them, and give them a chance to live.
“I think it’s a beautiful coincidence that its Independence day when we are marking the 61 anniversary of Nigeria with all the challenges the country is groping with right now, and this orphanage is also being launched to help the society.
“Wide spread poverty is one of the major challenges Nigeria is fighting right now and jobless in the society. If every unit that God has blessed to have wealth is able to offer an initiative such as this, it will take away a huge proportion of the poverty that we are talking about. Those orphans that could have become hopeless and helpless now have a chance to be able to stand on their own sometimes in future.
“Once you are able to equip them educationally, give them a sense of belonging and a feeling of love and care, they will not rebel against society. The bandits and criminals of today are rebelling against the society,” he noted.
Also speaking, CEO. Capital Assets Ltd. Ariyo Olushekun, called for multiplicity of such gestures, while also lamenting the current economic situation in the country which has indirectly created more orphans, some who lost their parents to insecurity or armed robbery attacks.
“Nigeria is 61 but we are not even acting like we are 16 yet. So this should be encouraged and I will like to call on those who have been blessed by Allah to support this and even set up more orphanages, especially the Muslim communities,” he stated.