Nigerians’ collective resilience was put to test in 2020 when the deadly COVID-19 virus hit the country. The nation’s economy was badly affected due to the restrictions and lockdown put in place across the country to curtail the spread of the virus as leaning and becoming each other’s strength was Nigerians best option.
It became clearer that to overcome the pandemic, it wasn’t just the government’s fight as every individuals and organisations have a role to play and many supports were needed as much as possible.
Over the years, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have been actively involved in battling challenges associated with the environment, education, health, poverty, women empowerment, child protection, social justice, and human rights among others.
Hence, when the COVID-19 pandemic spread to Nigeria, Dreams From The Slum (DFTS) empowerment initiatives, was actively involved in giving grassroot communities in Lagos State, South-Western Nigeria, a shoulder to lean on by donating food items, toiletries and also caring for the vulnerable.
Despite the health risk, DFTS team were out to distribute relief materials in order to mitigate the economic effect/hardship of the pandemic on people.
The team provided cooked food everyday and every week during the lockdown and donated foodstuffs to some others in Ajegunle.
“We started since 29th of March and have been doing it on daily basis, serving people cooked food. We also included an area in Orege area where several houses were recently burnt in an inferno. We provided breakfast, lunch and dinner. We fed adults, pregnant women, the elderly, teenagers and children and they all come here at our office to get the food,” the founder of the organisation, Isaac Success Omoyele had said.
DFTS, realising that for Nigerian children to become the leaders of tomorrow, teachers who will groom them, need to be well taken care of, launched an initiative called ‘Project Ajegunle Emergency Food Relief’ in a bid to provide food to the people of Ajegunle especially private school teachers after schools were shut in March.
700 teachers from low-cost private schools in Ajeromi and Ifelodun local council development area of Lagos were also reached in batches of 30, 50 and 100.
In Omoyele’s words: “We remember our teachers in low-cost private schools that cannot have access to online learning. Majority of the teachers haven’t been paid since March, and they haven’t been earning this period. This is why our COVID-19 intervention, Ajegunle Emergency Food Relief, reached out to 700 teachers from about 250 private schools across Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government and Ifelodun Local Council Development Area with food packs and toiletries that will last them for at least two weeks.”
The 250 schools were selected through the following bodies: Private Education Developers Association -Ajegunle; AFED – Ajeromi Chapter; League of Muslim Schools (Ajeromi Chapter); Family of School Network; National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (Ajeromi Chapter).
The school owners enlisted teachers who were in dire need of relief materials and the team also considered schools that couldn’t pay their teachers’ salaries during the lockdown.
The non-profit-making community-based organisation which operates in three States and five communities in Nigeria and in a remote village in Ghana has continued to use its platform to seek financial assistance for those that the pandemic disrupted their means of livelihoods.
Till date, DFTS still provides a healthy meal to school children through its @AjegunleFoodBank in a bid to ensure no child learns on empty stomach.
DFTS has made an impact in Lagos, Oyo, Kogi and Edo States in Nigeria and it is gradually growing in Ghana and Uganda.
Omoyele, a multiple award-winning social activist and child advocate, founded DFTS in 2013 with the aim of making the dreams of vulnerable persons a reality through access to quality education, empowerment and mentoring.
He is an Alumni of the United Nations University of Peace, Aileen Getty School of Citizen Journalism, Pan Atlantic University, Leap Africa Social Innovators Programme, and the Commonwealth Discovery Young Leaders Program.
Omoyele grew up in Ajegunle and as a child, lacked basic supplies which is why he is committed to helping the vulnerable get scholarship opportunities and access to basic school materials such as notebooks, bags, shoes, e.t.c.
DFTS reaches out to majorly children, young mothers and rural women using formal, informal and apprenticeship education as a tool for transformation and promoting literacy among the economically disadvantaged.
For the amazing support the teachers, children and others received from the Dreams From The Slum, its founder, Owoyele and his whole team are #ALEDEHCOVID-19Hero/#ALEDEHCOVID-19Heroes for the week.