By Morenike Taire
Maryam Abdullahi lived with her family in a shack in Ilupeju, Lagos, where her father worked. Life was uncertain and tough, but the illiterate couple from the northern part of the country was able to manage to send Maryam- the last of four children- to school.
It was at that government school that little Maryam met her destiny, borne in the sensitive hands of a non-governmental organization. Representatives of Courage Education Foundation relocated her to a better and private school, from where she proceeded to Day Waterman College, a high profile boarding school and finally to Caleb University, where she currently schools.
It was to a silent, emotional and spellbound audience that she told her story last week as leader of the foundation’s board of trustees Pastor Ituah Ighodalo and Project Director Mrs. Abimbola Ajagunna welcomed guests, benefactors and beneficiaries alike to an evening of comedy and fundraising in Oniru, Lagos.
Now an articulate teenager, Maryam vows not only not to let down those who had invested in her but also to give back to other unprivileged children as well as the society at large.
Meanwhile, the First Lady of Lagos State, Dame Abimbola Fashola, who was the special guest of honour, has called upon privileged Nigerians to invest in the education of children.
Represented by Mrs. Abisola Oshodi, the first lady thanked the foundation and appreciated its work. In her address to the children, she stressed: regardless of where you are coming from, it is where you are going to that is important. She enjoined beneficiaries not to follow bad company.
It was an evening of glitz, laughter and ideas exchange as the best Nigeria’s comedians turned out en masse to give their own support by their different brands of comedy.
Giving the pledge form was Mrs Adeyanju Olomola, one of the benefactors of the foundation, who opined that the best investment you can make is not a property in Lekki, Ajjah or Bond street in London but in the life of a child. Other special guests and benefactors include Mrs. Kaine Dosekun, Mrs Temilola Adepetun, Dr. Onye Kamanu and Mr. Seyi Akinwunmi amongst others. They all had the same message: let’s create more Maryams!
Courage Education Foundation is a registered non-profit dedicated to empowering the Nigerian child through the provision of quality education. It functions by taking children who are unable to attend or continue school due to insufficient parental resources and takes over their education. Though founded in Lagos with 12 recipients in 2004 (now 145), the focus is national as beneficiaries include children from Abia, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Jigawa and a dozen other states across the country.