Providing Relief to the Underprivileged

 Providing Relief to the Underprivileged

As Nigeria’s economy continues to bite harder and more people are continually thrown at the bottom of the poverty pyramid, Sunday Ehigiator who recently attended the ‘Ramadan Lecture and N200 Million Fund Raising’ event, held by the ‘Sisters in The Deen Foundation Orphanage’, writes on how the foundation has been providing succour to the underprivileged

With the current inflation rate now over 30 per cent and a currency in freefall, Nigeria is facing one of its worst economic crises in years, provoking nationwide outrage as hunger is now on rouge in the country.

Amidst all these, the ‘Sisters in Deen Foundation (SIDF)’ has remained a beacon of hope and a nurturing ground to the less privileged, especially orphans, as they now seek to acquire a bigger space, to widen the number of children in their care.

The ‘Sisters in Deen Foundation’

The foundation consists of a group of well-meaning pragmatic Muslim women desiring to make a difference in society by supporting vulnerable youths, most especially orphans.

According to the Secretary of the Foundation, Fatima Bakare Monguno, “Sisters in the Deen is a foundation set up to take care of orphans and vulnerable children in society.

“The foundation began from a WhatsApp group, and we started with visiting orphanages during Ramadan. Later, we decided to open an orphanage also. So, 11 of us came together from different walks of life to set it up with our monthly commitments before going to register at Alausa.

“We established the orphanage out of the need, which was lacking in society. For example, we only had one Muslim orphanage we were opening, so we saw it was very compelling to at least have another Muslim orphanage, and that was why we established the orphanage.

“We have our home here in Ogba, and it has been there for 2 years. The home was donated to us by one of our trustees for a couple of years, but it has become small for us right now because we have growing boys and girls most of whom are now teenagers. Hence, we embarked on this fundraising event to solicit support from all well-meaning Nigerians.”

The fundraising event

In the spirit of Ramadan, on Saturday, March 16, dignitaries converged at the Ifako-Ijaye Local Government Headquarters in Lagos to raise funds to the tune of N200 million for the continuation of the good works of the ‘Sister in the Deen Foundation Orphanage’, just as a lecture was held by Guest Lecturer, Sheikh Muhammadu Taofik Akeugbagold, to further position humanity to seek peace in all ramifications.

Dignitaries and members of the initiative, who were present at the event, included the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT), Prof. Fatima AbdulKareem; President, Dr. Nurat Akinlabi-Babalola; Vice President, Hajia Binta Adisa; Secretary, Hajia Fatimah Monguno; Welfare Secretary, Hajia Basirat Oladosu; and the Treasurer, Hajia Abisola Aminat Dina.

Others include the Chairman of the Occasion/Group Managing Director, Courteville Business Solution Plc, Alhaji Ismail Adebola Akindele, represented by Alhaji AbdulAzeez Adewale Abdullahi; Guest Lecturer, Sheikh Muhammadu Taofik Akeugbagold; Alhaji Kamorudeen Oladesu; Alhaji Olori Aje and Hajia Yinka Kareem, among others.

Need to simplify processes of adopting a child

In his speech, Chairman of the Occasion, Alhaji Ismail Adebola Akindele, who is also the Group Managing Director of Courteville Business Solution Plc, Lagos, expressed delight in the programmes and activities of the organisation, while also speaking on the need to address every bottleneck discouraging citizens from adopting a child in Nigeria.

Represented by the Chief Strategist and Head of Risk Management of Courteville Business Solution Plc, Alhaji AbulAzeez Adewale Abdullahi, the Chairman said, “What we are doing here today is to support what ‘Sisters in the Deen’ is doing to take the vulnerable in the community away and support them to become someone or something very useful to the society and this is why this programme is ongoing here today.

“People have this notion of the process of adopting a child; seems to be difficult, seems to be tight and some are very afraid to go into that because of some kind of issues that come afterwards.

“So, we think that if Sisters in the Deen can come together, bring up processes that will be seamless and easy, we have more capable Muslims that can adopt the children and help them reduce their burden at the same time to do a lot for the society.”

He said, “Currently we do not have many Islamic bodies that are into orphanage homes, adoption of children, taking care of the less privileged apart from the Bab-Salam at Ikeja GRA. 

“So, I commend the organisers for what they are doing and they should come more prominent to let people know about them. There are lots of people, Muslims that want to be part of a success like this. They should reach out more, align with some organisations that could be of help in having this as a reality.”

Establishing a peaceful society

Speaking on the topic, ‘Establishing a Peaceful Society: A Compulsory Duty of All Muslims’, Oyo State bases guest lecturer, at the lecture themed, ‘Expansion for Greater Positive Impact’, Sheikh Taofeek Akeugbagold, harped on the need for the Muslims to unite with every member of the society and stop finding faults or make enmity against one another.

He listed four ways to achieve peace in society including love, the spirit of forgiveness, justice and respect for human dignity.

According to him, “There are 4 things required to attain peace. The first thing is love. Until you love your neighbours as you love yourself, you cannot have peace. Love the Christians in your house. love to the traditional religion practitioners in your environment as you love yourself even though you have no business together.

“One of the major problems of Islam in Yoruba land is the misinterpretation of verses of the Holy Quran. Some prophets existed during the war era., just as some existed after the war era.

“Just like a war commander, if those that existed during the war era want to address their subordinates when going to war, he doesn’t talk peace. He speaks about war and killings. But those that existed when there were no longer wars were also recorded by the Holy Quran. But here in Yoruba land, they misrepresent both.

“They referenced the ones for war during peaceful periods, instead of the ones that existed during peaceful periods. This cannot work.

“As a good Islamic student, it’s not everything the Alpha teaches you that you should follow. Learn to sieve out messages that you don’t feel comfortable with, especially when they are not in line with the true Islamic teachings and doctrines. Learn to read your Quran and learn the truth yourself. Islam does not teach us to be foolish.

“The second thing needed to attain peace is to have a sense of forgiveness. We must learn to forgive irrespective of who offends us without retaliation. However, there must also be justice, which is the third thing needed to attain peace.

“We must not say because we want to forgive someone and then allow justice to suffer. If every offender evades justice, there will be more crime in society. Offenders must first be made to realise their mistake and make them face the consequences according to the law of the land before you can then forgive them.

“The fourth and last thing needed to attain peace is respect for human dignity. We must respect each other. Christians should respect Muslims and their religion, and Muslims should likewise do the same. People in the same community must learn to respect one another if they want to coexist.”

Appreciating the orphanage home, the Sheikh said, the effort of ‘Sisters in the Deen Foundation’ was one of the duties that Muslims of Nigeria had reneged from carrying out but which the NGO has now taken up to do.

He therefore urged the rich among the faithful to invest in uplifting the orphans and the less privileged being done by the organisation as, according to him, “they will be leaders of tomorrow”.

President’s remark

In her remark, the President, ‘Sisters in The Deen Orphanage Foundation’, Dr. Nurat Akinlabi-Babalola, described the project being raised money for as one that is divine.

According to her, “Sisters in the Deen Foundation was established in 2021. Allah has blessed the efforts, and the foundation is full, our children are grown teenagers now, both boys and girls, and there is a need for us to separate them in line with the Sharia standard.

“So we need to move them to a more gender-specific accommodation, and that was what birthed this quest for fundraising, ‘Expansion for Greater Positive Heart’. For every organisation, you have your short-term goal, medium, and long-term goal.

“We have already fulfilled our short-term goal while we established the foundation at its current location. Now, we are aiming for our medium-term goal, which is to separate the boys from the girls.

“To achieve this, we need a facility within our domiciled estate in Ogba that can afford us that. Our long-term goal is to move to our permanent site in Epe.”

Significance of funding

Speaking on the significance of the funding to the day-to-day running of the home, the Foundation’s Treasurer, Abisola Aminat Dina, noted, “We realised that there was so much need for more money to run the home. From educating the children, and feeding them to paying the staff, caretakers, cooks, security, etc. all of these cost so much money.

“So, we began to seek donations from individuals to support the home. Fortunately, we had some people who supported their education and some who usually brought foodstuff to the home.

“Despite this, there were still other needs to be met, such as paying for utility bills, staff welfare, hospital bills, etc. Recently, we just had a major surgery done on one of the children through the support of a Muslim woman, and it was quite successful.

“Be that as it may, there is still a lot of funding gap that needs to be filled. To get more impact, we need to start to develop our Epe site. The Epe site has been there long before we fully opened the orphanage here in Ogba.

“We are calling on well-meaning Nigerians and individuals from all over the world to help us develop our permanent site. We are open to partnerships.  People can come up to help develop segments of the site such as the mosque, hostels, admin block, school, vocational skills centre, recreational centre, etc.

“The plan for the place is to integrate everything the children need to develop well. So we are aiming for a more encompassing home that has everything within it.”

Adding her voice, the Foundation’s Welfare Officer, Hajia Basirat Oladosu noted that presently, the foundation has 11 children but has the capacity for 17 children. She added that the foundation’s projection is to expand to be able to accommodate at least 50 children comfortably.

According to her, “There are other vulnerable children and orphans out there who need our assistance, and from time to time, we get calls from the ministry that they need to bring in more children. But as it is now, space will not allow us.

“We have grown up children between the ages of 12 and 14 years and the likes which we don’t want to put them together for too long so we don’t give room for things we wouldn’t like to happen. Hence, we need to expand. We want to space them out, if possible, the boys should be separated from the girls, because now they are growing up.

“We are hoping to be able to accommodate over 50 children if we have the space we require, and funding is very important to achieve this. Hence, we are seeking support from all well-meaning Nigerians.”

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Amidst all these, the ‘Sisters in Deen Foundation (SIDF)’ has remained a beacon of hope and a nurturing ground to the less privileged, especially orphans, as they now seek to acquire a bigger space, to widen the number of children in their care

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