The third series of Airtel Touching Lives premiered on Saturday in an elegant event in Lagos. The Lantana Hall of Eko Hotel and Suites was decked in the brand’s rich red to welcome high profile guests who had come from the length and breadth of the country.
Apart from the Wife of the Ogun State Governor, Mrs Olufunso Amosun, who was the guest of honour, several other bigwigs were in attendance and made the night a remarkable achievement for Airtel.
Some of the telecom VIP guests included the Chairman of First Bank, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika; Director General of NIMASA, Mr Dakuku Peterside; CEO, Channels Television, Mr John Momoh; afrobeat musician and human rights activist Dede Mabiaku; Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina; Chairman, Brilla FM, Dr Larry Izamoje; and Chairman, Airtel Networks, Justice Salihu Modibo Alfa Belgore, RTD, (GCON), among many others.
On a night adorned with some of the brightest stars from the world of business, entertainment, and politics, Airtel took the stage to spotlight the extraordinary stories of Touching Lives’ several beneficiaries. It also used the occasion to restate the reason it has continued to sponsor the philanthropic programme.
The night’s proceedings, interspersed with heartening performances by comedian Akpororo, Xplicit Dancers, and The Voice Africa finalist, Cornel, culminated in the first ever showing of the first, and tremendously emotive episode, of the 2017 season of Airtel Touching Lives.
The episode features the Aina family, a barely comfortable family of six that was struck with a devastating fire accident in October 2016. In the brutal inferno, the Ainas lost all the property they owned. Three of their children, including a set of four-year-old twins, were killed in the accident, too.
Nearly six months after their shattering nightmare, Olusegun Aina, his wife, and their surviving son Korede, are still struggling with the attendant mental scarring. Now, for the emotional pain, Airtel is offering compassion, and for the physical loss, the company has delivered financial and medical relief so the family can begin to rebuild their lives.
All of this assistance is in line with the grand purpose of Airtel Touching Lives, according to Mr Segun Ogunsanya, Airtel’s managing director and chief executive officer. Wherever the disadvantaged are found in Nigeria, he said, Airtel Touching Lives would make an effort to step in with compassion.
“We will like to restate our commitment to providing succour and hope to the less privileged in the society,” he said. “While the Government and Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs) cannot do it all, we have a responsibility to contribute our quota in making Nigeria a better place.”
For the telecom giant, Touching Lives is a journey that must continue because in its achievements lies its payoff. Since 2015 when the project was launched, Ogunsanya said it has continued to spread inspirational messages to more people, promoting the spirit of “giving, self-sacrifice and love among Nigerians.”
Some of the encouraging stories the company has recorded include those of a police officer who had lost his sight in an armed robbery attack but, in Season One, he received aid from Airtel to live a more productive life. Another involves a businessman who had chosen to become an aid worker after his arms were gruesomely amputated by RUF (Revolutionary United Front) rebels in Liberia during that country’s civil war.
Airtel worked with him to expand his humanitarian efforts. But Airtel is convinced that more would be accomplished when more corporate and private citizens joined in the quest to save helpless Nigerians from vicious poverty, disease, and disasters.
On Saturday, the telco called on these capable persons in the audience to sign symbolic pledge cards as personal commitments to charity giving. “We cannot embark on this journey alone. We call on all well-meaning Nigerians to join this noble cause of giving back to the society because we believe that there are many kind-hearted, empathetic and selfless Nigerians that are willing to render succor to underprivileged people.
“The pledge card is a symbol to underscore your commitment to helping the underprivileged people around you. The truth is, you can make a difference. You may never know how helping just one person will impact tens or even hundreds of lives,” said Ogunsanya.
The third season of Airtel Touching Lives, hosted by star radio and TV personality Wana Udobang, will, as usual, be broadcast on terrestrial and satellite television channels across Africa. The airing schedule, Airtel said, would be announced soon.