By Cosmas Okoli
The MTN Foundation was incorporated in July 2004 to offer a sustainable and focused channel through which MTN Nigeria would drive its corporate social responsibility initiatives in all 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory.
Its mission is to improve the quality of life in the areas of economic empowerment, education and health on a sustainable basis to alleviate the health challenges currently facing the country and to facilitate the economic empowerment of Nigerian citizens.
Among the many projects undertaken by the foundation is the disability support project, which is in partnership with two outstanding Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), namely the Mobility Aid and Appliances Research and Development Center (MAARDEC) and Independent Living Project (ILP).
While MAARDEC supplies and distributes the mobility aids and appliances to all the distribution centres across the country, ILP is tasked with the responsibility of selecting the beneficiaries, organizing the distribution of the mobility aids and appliances to the beneficiaries and proper documentation of the beneficiaries for follow up purposes to ensure maximum impact on the lives of the beneficiaries.
The project tagged MTN Foundation Disability Support Project (MTNF DSP), is designed to improve the quality of life of people living with disabilities through appropriate provision of mobility aids and appliances such as wheel chairs, crutches, guide canes, hearing aids, Braille machines, Tricycles etc, free of charge. The first cycle of the project was divided into 3 phases to cover the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, with each phase covering about 12 states and was implemented between 2009 and 2011. The 1ST phase covered: Anambra, Ebonyi, Lagos, Oyo, Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Kebbi, Zamfara, Delta, Cross River states and the FCT, while the 2nd phase covered: Abia, Bauchi, Borno, Edo, Enugu, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Ogun, Ondo and Rivers States. The 3rd phase covered: Niger, Kaduna, Plateau, Sokoto, Gombe, Yobe, Ekiti, Osun, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Imo and Nasarawa states.
By the conclusion of the 3rd phase, over 15,000 mobility aids and appliances had been distributed across the federation, to indigent persons with disabilities who could not afford these items and yet desperately needed them.
June 2013 will mark the commencement of another MTNF DSP cycle of 3 phases, and this time, the target is to ensure the distribution of over 15,000 mobility aids and appliances across the federation. Ultimately, the MTNF Disability Support Project aims to ensure that persons living with disability are more independent, economically productive, socially viable, have improved self-esteem and are free to move around and go about their daily activities.
Beyond the direct impact of MTN Foundation Disability Support Project on the lives of the beneficiaries, the involvement of two notable Non-profit organizations as consultants to the project has another huge impact in the lives of persons with disability in Nigeria. First and foremost, these NGOs namely: Independent Living Project (ILP) and Mobility Aid and Appliances Research and Development Centre (MAARDEC) were founded and run by persons with disability whose mission is to empower their fellow Nigerians who also are disabled. By engaging these organizations as consultants, MTN is helping to build their capacity, while assisting them to achieve their missions. Their involvement also ensured that MTN’s intervention is meticulously executed with maximum impact.
MTN Nigeria corporate social responsibility is outstanding and has no rival. It is corporate social responsibility at its best and the company deserves special recognition and commendation. Nigerians with disability and indeed millions of other Nigerians who have benefited and continue to benefit from MTN’s corporate social responsibility projects are eternally grateful to MTN and wish that other corporate organizations doing good business in Nigeria will emulate MTN.