By Ola Ajayi
The ugly phenomenon of abandoning children has been a social stigma for ages. Just as it is rampant in Oyo State, the story is the same across the country. Only God knows what could have happened if not for the quick and timely intervention of some orphanages and motherless homes. Places like Cheshire, Jesus Kids’ Home for Special Children and Ibadan Motherless Babies Home all in Ibadan give maternal affection and care to these innocent but unlucky children.
Findings by Vanguard revealed that children who are physically challenged are mostly affected. Visits to some of the orphanages in Ibadan metropolis paint a very pathetic picture. But for some kind-hearted people who rescued them, little Yekini and Tayo who now live happily at Jesus Kids Home, would have died of hunger in a room where they were locked after the death of their mother. Even though, they are eight and 12 years old, medical experts, according to Pastor Mrs Ololade Adamolekun, President of Jesus Kids Home for Special People, say hunger has shut their brains.
Though, they are responding to stimuli, their growth is retarded when compared to their ages. These two are among 65 children in the orphanage, which is located at No 18, Ifelodun Street, Monatan area of Ibadan. Speaking with South West Voice on why innocent babies are abandoned, Mrs. Adamolekun , the founder of the orphanage, said parents abandon children for various reasons. According to her, some babies are abandoned because of their circumstances. Children are sent to the orphanage by families, churches and even governments.
She added that some of the children in the orphanage have autism; some have problems which are cerebral while others need physiotherapy and surgery to make them stable. As for Moyinoluwa Oladapo, she was abandoned by her parents about three years ago. “Her mother brought her after her husband ran away and the mother too abandoned her in the orphanage when the little girl fell sick in 2013,” she said.
Enormous cost of fending
One of the children, Odumo Mayowa, aged 11, who speaks English fluently, disclosed that his uncle brought him to the home from Ilesa. Though now in JSS one , he says he is happy being in the home because the proprietress provides everything just for the asking. Asked how she has been coping with various challenges and the enormous cost of fending for them, Mrs Adamolekun said it is not very easy and that is why she is calling on all well meaning Nigerians to help the children in the home.
She says she spends more than N2 million every month to take care of them. Taking care of them, she explains, includes their medication, feeding, salaries of about 14 people working with her among others. When asked why she undertook this challenging task, she told Vanguard that it was a divine call on May 10, 2010 and God has since been her support, adding that some concerned people like members of Ibadan Mesiogo led by its President, Adeola Adepoju have also been very supportive.
On the involvement of security agencies before any child is brought to the orphanage, she noted that they don’t just pick up abandoned children from the streets but would first notify the law enforcement agents who would then issue her a license to be in the custody of such child. When speaking during one of his visits to the orphanage, the President of Ibadan M’esiogo Worldwide, Mr. Adesoji Adeola said,
Like a hapless new born babe, the less able – the visually impaired, the physically and mentally challenged; basically, the bulk of the socially, politically and economically ostracised population cry out for our help, our attention, and our thoughtfulness. These are our society’s secret shame that we conveniently ignore, conveniently forget, and conveniently hide for we must not identify with them openly lest we lose the patronage and respect of our neighbours; friends, followers and benefactors. Yet, we are all bound by flesh and blood – humans born out of humans. Just because they are assailed by one sickness or the other should not earn them the red card to obscurity.
To quote the very words of Cardinal Roger Mahoney in his 1998 letter : Creating a Culture of Life – ‘’Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members – the last, the least and the littlest”
This is why our group – Ibadan Mesi o go Worldwide is making a clarion call to the rest of us that ‘’Whosoever you have the capability or wherewithal to help is indeed your neighbour – help him!” It is high time we shifted our focus onto the less able in our midst. We must all cultivate the good habit of extending helping hands of love, generosity and fellowship to them for without us doing that, what are their chances of surviving in this hard clime where, even, the so called able are struggling very hard to make it?
“We applaud many individuals, families, groups, clubs, religious bodies, government representatives who have at one time or the other been devoted to this cause and pray that God continues to bless them all.” “The journey to bridge the chasm that our society had, over the years, carelessly allowed to separate them from us must be undertaken by everybody with no exception. And so, we hereby call on to friends, families, churches, mosques, inspired individuals, and the government to offer support to the less able in our midst,” he said.
Another motherless home, Ibadan Home for Motherless Babies founded by late Chief Rebecca Solanke in 1960 has rescued countless number of babies especially those whose mothers died during or after childbirth. When speaking with South West Voice, the Assistant Matron of the Home, Mrs. Julianah Oke described mothers who abandon children as ingrates who don’t appreciate God in anyway.
Wondering how a mother who was delivered of a baby would think leaving the helpless and innocent babies in the cold is the only way out, she simply said, “those who engage in such acts don’t have faith in God. I think we should be more responsible. If it is gaari that you feed on, it is okay. Why should you abandon what God has given you. It is because they are not patient and they lack love in its real term. We need to be patient and allow Godly love to govern our lives. You can never tell what those children would become in future”.
In Ibadan Motherless babies home, the assistant matron said they nurse motherless babies from age zero to three years after which they would deliver them to their fathers or families. As for the funding of the home, she said it is funded by churches, mosques, individuals, corporate organisations and schools. Giving details of how the dream of the home was conceived, she said late Mrs Solanke was for many years a health visitor at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, and as part of her duties, she regularly followed up children born at the UCH especially those whose mothers died at childbirth.”