Nigeria: Charity Work: Partnership Across Borders

Beginning from July and for several months in 2003 and after, the people of Kwara State became beneficiaries of interventions and endowments from the Kwara Wellbeing Trust (KWT), working under the auspices of The Wellbeing Foundation, a non-governmental organisation founded by the wife of the Governor of Kwara State, Mrs Oluwatoyin Saraki.

Over the last 18 months many have borne witness to the effects of the activities of the foundation in the state and how the foundation has relentlessly tried to bring relief to the less privileged.

The Wellbeing Foundation believes in adding value to the communities in which it operates. It works to support the government of Kwara State, seeing its role as one, which helps to create an enabling environment where people, especially women and children can live in peace and prosperity.

It was not Mrs. Saraki’s first foray into charity work. For five years before her husband was elected governor, she had joined a couple of her friends to champion The Lifestream Charity, which committed itself to giving hope to children with heart deformities. The Lifestream quietly sponsored heart surgeries for children with such deformities to Israel long before it became very fashionable in Nigeria.

Her passion for children went with her to Kwara State, where her first intervention was at the Children Reception Centre, where her foundation with self-endowed funds brought light into the lives of the children at the centre. Perhaps this explains why the KWT intervention began with the renovation of the Children’s Specialist Hospital in Igboro, Ilorin. The foundation has undertaken an extensive renovation of the hospital, transforming the place to a modern, state-of-the-art health institution. This project has in no small way improved health care to children in Kwara State and the KWT sees this as only the beginning. They have also put in place structures to enable the hospital establish a maintenance culture.

It is for the same reason that the KWT recently donated neonatal emergency monitoring and resuscitation aid to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital. Some of them include apparatuses for premature infants like the neonatal resuscitator and pulse oximeters imported by the KWT and donated to the hospital. Already there has been a successful treatment of triplets. The KWT renders further assistance with drugs, baby food, and so on to such parents who have multiple children like twins or triplets.

“Although much of The Wellbeing Foundation programmes have been health based, they are not restricted to health. In 2004, the foundation instituted a monthly financial support for indigent children’s needing help for one thing or the other. Scores of helpless parents have seen their children health, education and feeding needs met by this fund, which is transparently run by KWT.

The Foundation has also carried out programmes in education, social enterprise, HIV/AIDS and even sports. In education, the State School for the Handicapped (which Mrs. Saraki hopes would soon be renamed School for Special Needs) has benefited immensely from her foundation. She has also instituted an annual scrabble award towards the aim of improving the literacy and numeracy level of school children in Kwara State,” director of liaison for the organisation, Mr. Niran Adedokun told THISlife in a recent interview.

Adedokun informed that conscious of the increasing responsibility being imposed on the foundation by the people’s growing needs and the stifling nature of today’s economy, The Wellbeing Foundation has since inception been seeking to collaborate with government bodies, donor organisations and the corporate world in carrying out its programmes. And this is beginning to yield fruits. In his words “The foundation has recently been in talks with US-based developmental organisations: Village Earth (VE) and the Cosmopolitan Allied Health Institute (CAHI). In the bid to bring sustainable development to Kwara State, these talks, which have lasted for months, will be consolidated with the visit of the two organisations from the of February 26 to March 5.

Village Earth is a world renowned consortium for village-based development and an arm of the Colorado State University, USA. They will be working with the Cosmopolitan Allied Health Institute (CAHI) also based in the US, and the Wellbeing Foundation to bring steady but sure footed development to villages in Nigeria.

According to officials of The Wellbeing Foundation, the one-week long visit, which will take the delegation to several rural communities in the country, resulted out of the search by Mrs. Saraki to pioneer a systematic, development plan for the villages.

THISlife was told “Mrs. Saraki holds a view similar to that of the two other parties that the development of people must originate from the rural areas where majority of the peoples, in the country reside. The whole idea is to bring measurable development to the lives of the people in the area of health, education and enterprise. It is to bring quality into the livelihood of our people in Kwara State. It is a thing that Village Earth has done for decades and The Wellbeing Foundation is hopeful that we shall be able to move the country forward through this effort,”

The visit, which will take the delegation round the three senatorial districts of Kwara State, is to enhance the growth of rural communities in the state and the country as a whole in the areas of basic health care delivery, safe motherhood, creating opportunities for self-employment and ensuring that children have more quality life through education and health care delivery.

The organisations have a philosophy of participatory involvement by all stakeholders in the village. According to them, this is vital in creating a positive development climate. The statement quoted one of the co-founders of Village Earth as saying, “Participation is the key to human motivation. Villagers must have the opportunity to participate and have ownership in the decisions affecting their lives.”

The future appears bright for the two groups and more importantly for the people they are making an effort to help. Both the Wellbeing Foundation and the US-based organisations have expressed enthusiasm at how much the collaboration between the two groups will bring a lasting transformation to the lives of the people and also enhance their profile as organisations that care.

Source: All Africa

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