By Idowu Bankole
As both the public and private sectors continue to work to curb the spread of COVID-19 across Nigeria, three female lawyers in their twenties, have kickstarted a program that has already provided over 2000 free face masks to residents of rural communities in Abuja.
Tolulope Salawu, Lily King, and Rejoice Godson-Igwe, the founders of The Blooming Africa Initiative, have been organising mask-sewing training for young women in Abuja over the past few weeks — with the produced masks distributed free in low-income communities around the Federal Capital.
“When the lockdown first started in March, we wanted to see how we could play our part to ensure that low-income families in Abuja were not adversely affected by the virus,” said Salawu, “We had a virtual meeting and decided that the best way to go about this is to hold the mask training and distribute the produced masks in low-income households.”
TBAI, The Blooming Africa Initiative, their foundation, which primarily focuses on education and prison reform, since its establishment in 2018, has helped to provide access to legal representation for scores of prison inmates and assisted in providing access to education to over 270 children.
“The only reason that we are doing this is that we see the effect of the socio-economic situation in the country today — and we believe that young people who have the skills and the network to get involved — should actually get involved,” said King, “From providing access to justice to providing access to education — and now, to providing something as basic as face masks to thousands of low-income families, we are contributing to making Nigeria better in our own little way.”
With schools across the country currently shut down due to the COVID-19 restrictions that have been instituted by the Federal Government, the young women have still been working to ensure that children in the Saburi community of the Federal Capital Territory have access to reading and learning supplies.
“Currently, we provide weekly worksheets to 270 underprivileged children in Saburi who have no library nor access to books in their community,” said Godson-Igwe, “We also provide them with a mobile library every two weeks to ensure that they have access to age-appropriate reading materials. Our plan is to ensure that regardless of their current low-income status, these children between the ages of 7 and 17 can read, write and communicate effectively.”
The Directors of the Foundation all say that they envision a society where quality education is readily accessible to all children and all Nigerians have access to effective and efficient justice.
“For now, we will keep impacting the communities that we can reach, one initiative at a time, and one person at a time,” said Salawu, “We have distributed two thousand masks so far and provided access to education and reading materials for over 200 children in just under 24 months of our establishment. Watch what we do next,” the director said.