Hundreds of school-going children as well asÂ their counterparts who are out of school gathered last Saturday at Oto area of Lagos State for an awareness programme organised by the Community Art Development Initiative (CADI), a non-governmental organisation.
Essentially, the programme was to sensitize the large uneducated population of the area. including orphans and vulnerable childrenÂ to the importance of education, the need to improve on their hygiene habit, deliver health and nutritional education and to give training to the care givers of these children on family planning and universal female condom.
According to the Director of CADI, Mrs Njideka Eke, the Oto community was chosen as the area for the awareness programme because it is inhabited by many children who are not going to school, illiterates women who neither do not know anything about family planning nor about HIV.
She said: â€œThe children need to be taught health education, nutrition and the need to go to school. Our investigations informed the choice of Oto as one of the areas for this enlightenment programme because we discovered that many of the children and their mothers are uneducated.
Education of the mothers is very important because some of these mothers have HIV without knowing the disease they are suffering from and they pass it to their children.
It is the educated mother that can enlighten her children on hiegien habits.â€
The pathetic conditions under which these Nigerian vulnerable children live have caught the interest of a ResearchÂ Fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta Georgia, United States of America in the person of Dr Kome Oseghale who is partnering with CADI.
According to Oseghale, what CADI is doing in Nigeria tallies with her areas of interest which includeÂ childhood nutrition, malnutrition and obesity as well as orphans and vulnerable children, adding that she is actively involved in activities such as health education, provision of psychosocial support and capacity building through role plays, childrenâ€™s club and counselling, nutritional and HIV/AIDS counselling and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Oseghale said her support for CADI will be a continous one as its activities are similar to hers, explaning that apart from health and nutritional education, attention should be paid to the growth of children so that those with stunted growth can be discovered at very early stage.
Although CADI made provision for 500 children, thousands of them came out for the programme during which they were given gifts of branded bags, cups and free meals ofÂ indomie.