By Remmy Diagbare
The Arrows of God orphanage nestles in the suburb of Ajah,- a collection of three small bungalows and a dilapidated make shift structure at theÂ back serves as school for the primary and kindergarten children .
There are three hundred children housed behind the walls- children whose ages run from zero to twenty. Two of the bungalows serve as boys and girls hostels respectively. While the third houses the administrative block, and the library.
At the frontage, some of the children are at play- amongst them, a cute little black girl of about four, She smiles. Her whiteÂ eyes , like saucers stare up to inspect the visitorÂ The innocence of youth – oblivious of her circumstances, she breaksÂ away from the groupÂ to greet me ,Â Â Having passed through the security at the gate, I am presumed friend,, Stating my mission , I am ushered into mummyâ€™s office. Mummy being Colonel (Mrs.) Deborah Ogo (Rtd)Â Â an officer and a woman of God. Mrs. Ogo, got the call to care for abandoned children over thirteen years ago, but, did not heed the call until it becameÂ a persistentÂ vision. Unable to resist any longer,, Colonel Ogo retired eleven years ago and went full time into caring for children abandoned by their parents and society.
InÂ this chat with me, she tells of the her joy so far; her challenges and the Charity Runway -a fashion show and musical concert being put together by Allure Vanguard ,and some celebrities. The show which is aimed at raising funds to helpÂ Â restore the run down orphanage is slated for SeptemberÂ Â 13th, back to back with WOW.
How has it beenÂ Â since you started the orphanageÂ Â eleven years ago?
There have been many challenges, but I thank God that one by one we have been surpassing every one of them.Â The greatest challenge IÂ had was that, my children had all grown, at least the ones that came in at the beginning. They had to go to secondary school and even university, but we didnâ€™t have money to pay school fees at that time.
ByÂ Â faith, I told my children that, we were going for the best and God did it.Â Â They went for the exams andÂ Â Â came up tops. They did so well, that they were given scholarships.
Now, I have children in Covenant University and some of the top secondary schools in the country. And they are doing so well, I thank God every day.
How do you feel, when you see these children who came to you in hopeless situations, becoming such beacons?
I feel very proud. It tells me, that , there is nothing God cannot do,Â It also tells me, thatÂ if given the opportunity, every one can become someone great , if one works hard to achieve a goal.
How do the children relate to you?
I am their mummy. They have no else but, God and myself. I am the only one they know . They are my children and I love them very much.
You have three hundred children in the orphange, how do you cope with caring for them; feeding, clothing, medicare etc.?
It is by the grace of God and the support of well meaning Nigerians and foreigners. People support us with donations of money, clothes and food stuff.
Churches and different organizations bring things for us. The Lagos State first Lady, past and present have been most generous. International agencies like UNICEF have been most helpful. In fact, they donated the library, where the children go to read
But, I tell you, it has not been easy. But, you know, when God sets you on a mission, he makes the provision. He has always provided for our needs. When we need something badly, some how, it shows up. I give you two examples, when we had challenges with our previous accommodation; he provided this place for us. â€“ and, I must add that, it is our property. We needed a generator to power the whole place- previously, we only had a 2.5. God touched one of the First Ladies; she came here, saw the need and provided one. .
For Medicare,Â the Government has been most generous, as we have free medical care in General hospital.
So in every way, I have cause to thank God. See what is happening today. You have come to interview me today because, you want to help raise awareness to our plight and to raise funds for some our needs. Is it not God that touched your heart?
Let us talk more aboutÂ the needs of the orpanage for which the charity runway is hoping to raiseÂ Â money?
One of the challenges I have is that of education for the children. Some of them have scholarships but, most do not. Those who are not on scholarship have to be placed in secondary schools,, I have to look for money to pay their fees, .Some people adopt a child by paying the fees, otherwise, I have to pay, and it is aÂ serious challenge. So, we need to set up the school properly, so we can teach both primary and secondary,
Right now, we have only primary in the makeshift school at the back but; even that, services the children of people in the neighborhood, because, it is free.
We also, need a clinic- like a sick bay. Most of these children come in half dead in most cases; we need to give immediate medical care to guarantee better chance of survival.
About the charity runway?
The Charity Runway isÂ fashion and musical show being put together by Allure Vanguard in conjunction withÂ actress Genevieve Nnaji,Â Selfaid IntegratedÂ Services, Ndid Obioha ofÂ Enthyst Events, and Chiom Okoye of Leansigma Concept. The show which promises to be a very glamorous event,Â will showcase Genevieve latest collectionÂ being worn Nigerias Celebrities. The KOKO mastr himself is expected to perform at the event.Â I will keep you informed as events unfold in the coming weeks,