By Emma Elebeke
The dream by MTN to empower some disabled Nigerian youths to be self sufficient as well as contribute their own quota to the economic has finally yielded result, when 45 disabled young men and women emerged graduates in skill and vocational training.
At the graduation ceremony of the pioneer students of the project at Oj-Oba, Lagos, MTN about 45 disabled youths graduated on various vocation modes of skill acquisition. The training ranged from tailoring, fashion design, welding, fabrication, shoe making and leather works among others.
It will be recalled that a recent study on Nigeria showed that about 26 million Nigerians are living with one form of physical disability or the other.
Out of this number, the majority are said to have no access to facilities that will enable them to conduct their day-to-day activities.
This same population to a large extent also do not have proper motivation and assistance and are unable to go to school like their able bodied peers.
Speaking at the occasion, the Chairman, MTN Foundation, Amb. Hamzat Ahmadu said it was in the light of this that MTN Foundation, under its economic empowerment portfolio two years ago introduced the MTN foundation skill acquisition project in partnership with the friends of the disabled in Lagos.
With this graduation, Amb. Ahmed said that the foundation would continue to monitor the progress of the beneficiaries as well as provide them with opportunities to showcase their products to a wider audience.
In doing this, he the foundation would facilitate their attendance of trade fair, exhibitions and workshops, airing documentaries to promote their products
“It is our pledge that we will continue to strive to positively impact the lives of our people, not only because this gives us joy, but also because corporate social investment is an integral part of MTN’s business strategy,” he added.
While commending the graduands, he announced that the foundation with its partner would soon commence phase 2 of the project, with plan to train a total of 50 trainees .
It will be recalled that in 2009, phase one of the project kicked off with the formal commissioning of the centre. Also commissioned was an agriculture unit introduced which comprises a poultry farm and a fish pond. It was at this stage that these youths began the journey of becoming self reliant.
In her keynote address, the permanent secretary, federal ministry of women affairs and social development, Hajia Zainab said that the ministry was pleased pleased to partner with the Friends of the disabled and MTN Foundation in bettering the lots of the disabled in the society, which form part of the responsibilities it was charged to do through the relevant department.