By ANOZIE EGOLE
Oruh Ugonna Mary is the African Coordinator of The Life Changers Group, a non-governmental organization that gives succor to the less privileged, particularly abandoned children. In this interview, the Abia-born graduate of Economic and Statistics from the University of Benin talks about the organization and her challenges so far as the regional head of the international organization floated in Nigeria in November 2012.
How far would you say you’ve gone in achieving your set goals?
We have achieved so much. Where you are now is our orphanage. That is a clear demonstration of how far the organization has gone in achieving set goals. We go to different schools and hospitals to give hope to people by providing them with some basic needs.
We also give to widows and so many others. Our activities are not just restricted here in Lagos. We go to almost all the states in Nigeria except the northern states which we have not been opportune to go. Our mission is to give succor to the less privilege and our vision is to see that every abandoned child gets a better life tomorrow. We are also planning to set up a refugee camp in Lagos
You studied Economic and Statistics; why did you choose to work in an orphanage?
I have always loved calculations and being a graduate of Economics and Statistics does not mean I must end up as an Economist. I have flare for helping the poor and I’ve always wished to have my own orphanage.
Why the love for having an orphanage?
I see myself as a very compassionate person. If I see someone in need, I always love to help the person; it is just my nature. I have also discovered there is high rate of poverty in the country.
Some weeks ago, you sent food items to some Muslims; what’s the brain behind that and were you accepted?
Yes, we were fully accepted because this organization has no religious undertone. It is all about giving to the needy. We actually thought some Muslims were fasting without having any food. So, we decided to take some food items and fruits to a Mosque.
Being the African coordinator of an international organization like this, what have the challenges been?
The major challenge has been fund. It has not been easy sourcing for fund to run this class of organization and also, trying to carry people along has been a very big challenge. As an African coordinator though, the challenges are not new.
So, how do you fund your projects?
Our basic source is through membership. A certain amount of money is expected of all new members. That’s why we encourage good-spirited Nigerians to come join us so as to save more lives. We are also soliciting for sponsors from corporate bodies. As we all know, running an orphanage is not an easy task. The kids here have no parents and they do not do anything for a living. So, their feeding, schooling and everything are strictly done by the organization. We encourage a payment of at least N8,500 from members.
Has there been anytime in your life as the coordinator of this group that you feel like quitting?
Yes. There was a time we had a baby that was HIV positive here in this home. This baby was consistently falling ill and it was tough. The baby was later referred to Ikeja General Hospital where he finally gave up. What kept me moving at that period was my passion for a better tomorrow.
What do you think would be the reason why people abandon their baby?
Some times, it bothers me a lot. I have seen hardship. I was not born with a silver spoon; I grew up in the worst condition. So, I can understand poverty. Some people can hardly feed. So, when they consider all those things, they conclude it is better to drop their innocent child where someone can find him or her and give him or her a better life.