Financial support for special-needs focused NGOs

Mosunmola Ogi-Olu

“Worship for Change has successfully raised N120 million to support 38 charities dedicated to caring for thousands of orphans and children with special needs across Nigeria”.

In Nigeria, children with special needs often face neglect and discrimination, with inadequate infrastructure, non-inclusive learning environments, and widespread stereotypes. Many schools and religious institutions fail to accommodate these children, while others reject them, even when parents are willing and able to pay for their education.

Tobiloba Ajayi, Executive Director of ‘The Let Cerebral Palsy Kids Learn’, highlighted the challenges faced by these children, including being labeled as “evil” and deemed unworthy of care by society. According to beneficiaries

“The absence of inclusive education for children with special needs denies them numerous opportunities, resulting in many being unable to attend school. School owners frequently cite challenges and additional expenses associated with integrating children with special needs into mainstream education. These include acquiring facilities, equipment, and trained facilitators capable of effectively supporting such children””.

Depending on the type of need, a child may require various assistive devices and services. According to the World Health Organization, in low-income countries, only 5–15 percent of those in need of assistive technology can access it, with cost being the primary barrier for the majority who cannot afford it.

To address the growing demand for improving the future of children with special needs in Nigeria, many non-governmental organizations focus on enhancing their living conditions by providing safe environments where they can access education and healthcare, ensuring they have a quality life.

However, the organizations often face financial challenges due to the increasing number of children they serve, leading to rising costs in education, healthcare, and social services.

To support the organizations, Worship for Change, a non-profit enterprise, has been instrumental in raising awareness and funds for orphans and children with special needs. Established in 2006, Worship for Change has raised N120 million ($74,696.55) to support 38 charities dedicated to caring for thousands of orphans and children with special needs across Nigeria.

Recently, Worship for Change donated a N33 million ($20,541.55) to four beneficiaries, each receiving N8,250,000. Some of the beneficiaries noted that this was the largest donation they had received from a single entity, underscoring the lack of government support for these children in Nigeria.

While presenting the funds to the beneficiaries, Chief Responsibility Officer for Worship for Change, Wale Adenuga emphasized the organization’s commitment to improving the lives of children with Special needs and indigent children nationwide.

Kawan Aondofa-Anjira, the Founder of The Sedoo Initiative for Children with Special Needs, shared her journey after receiving the donation. “I’m a mother of two children with Cerebral palsy. Sedoo died about two years old, while the Aondofa died at about seven years old”. In the community, it’s commonly believed that children like hers are viewed as curses, burdens, and unworthy of life.

Reflecting on the challenges faced by children with special needs in society, Aondofa-Anjira recounted the heartbreaking attitudes and comments she and her family endured. Determined to provide support and care for mothers in similar situations, she and her husband established the center in 2011.

Over the years, The Sedoo Initiative has made a profound impact, including the rescue and rehabilitation of a boy named Tesu, who was slated for termination. With the help of previous donations, the center has expanded its services, employing additional therapists and providing essential supplies for the children and caregivers.

Transportation remains a significant obstacle for the center, as lack of adequate means has led to tragic losses. Aondofa-Anjira expressed hope that the latest donation would enable the purchase of a bus to facilitate hospital visits and emergency therapies for the children.

Grateful for the support from “Green Worship,” she said it will significantly enhance their ability to provide essential care and support to children with special needs.

Executive Director of The Let Cerebral Palsy Kids Learn Foundation shared her personal journey as an adult living with cerebral palsy during a recent interview. She recounted how, as a child, she faced societal pressure due to her condition, with some suggesting her parents abandon her. She is however grateful for her parents’ decision to support her.

In 2016, Ajayi became aware of the widespread belief that individuals with cerebral palsy are undeserving of life and education. Determined to address this injustice, she founded the foundation in 2017. Since then, the organization has directly impacted over 650 families, enrolled over 120 children in school, and trained more than 600 teachers from over 50 schools.

Ajayi highlighted the challenges of supporting children with cerebral palsy, emphasizing the need for healthcare and assistive devices to ensure their well-being and inclusion in mainstream education. She noted the increasing demand for support services and rising medication costs, particularly in 2024.

Another recipient of the donation, Samuel Ajayi, Executive Director of ‘Tó Omo Ré’, expressed appreciation by sharing the center’s journey. He recounted how the center initially started as a conventional school, but soon began admitting children with special needs. Despite initial apprehension, Ajayi sought guidance from a training school in Oyo State, where he gained knowledge and encouragement from an experienced educator. Starting with four children, the center now accommodates 81, with 32 residing in the hostel. Ajayi reflected on the providence of support, noting that whenever needs arise, divine assistance manifests through people.

Joy Iselobhor, Executive Director of the Joy in Africa Foundation, upon receiving the cheque recalled that, “For 15 years, I’ve been in this role, and it wasn’t until February, with the arrival of the governor’s wife, that we received support, despite the tenure of three different governor’s wives in Delta state.” She noted that the foundation began with five children, expanded to 63 by the time of the concert, and now cares for 80 children. Iselobhor expressed gratitude to the organization and affirmed that the funds would be used to purchase land, as the current rented space is insufficient for the foundation’s needs.

While the recent donations will help in supporting children with special needs in Nigeria, it’s important to acknowledge that they only address a fraction of the population. Many children with special needs continue to face challenges such as stigma, stereotypes, and lack of access to social security. Unfortunately, the government appears unaware of their plight and has yet to implement concrete plans to safeguard their well-being. Despite these ongoing challenges, the efforts of NGOs like Worship for Change serve as a beacon of hope, demonstrating the potential for positive change and advocating for a brighter future for all children in Nigeria, regardless of their abilities.

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