Martins Uba Nwamadi
There are people in the society who are bold, imaginative, visionary and tend to see beyond the frontiers of their own social existence, thereby adding value that ultimately improves on the society. Eric Fromm in his book, The Revolution of Hope, said, “Man/woman defines his/her humanity in terms of the society with which he or she identifies himself/herself.’’
But the reality is that there are some people in the society who look beyond the dimensions of their society. Philosophers usually propagate that the survival of any society rests on its own social structure and also on its contradictions, but the supreme goal should be the happiness and wellbeing of all its members, hence we must strive to build an egalitarian society that should accommodate all segments. One acronym, which has been reverberating in all crannies of the Nigerian Society, especially in the North, is Mass Literacy for the Less Privileged and the Almajiris Initiative (MALLPAI), founded by no less a person than Dr. Aisha Bagudu, a medical doctor and the First Lady of Kebbi State. The philosophy behind MALLPAI is to allow the Almajiris and the down-trodden in the society to develop and practice their individuality and, by so doing, “We free their potential, while motivating their creativity, which will bring about a healthy society and aliveness.”
MALLPAI denounces oppression but activates hope for one to develop hidden talents bestowed by nature. MALLPAI is a search to make life meaningful to the society because any purpose in our lives is chosen by ourselves, she said.
Long before she became the First Lady of Kebbi State, Hajia Aisha Bagudu, in 2009, founded a non-profit organisation to improve the lives of vulnerable people within her community. The Mass Literacy for Less Privileged and the Almajiris Initiative, widely known as MALLPAI, was focused on ensuring that Almajiri kids on the streets are enrolled in school and provided with basic welfare.
For Hajia Bagudu, the Almajiris were a potent symbol of underserved and underrepresented groups in society. MALLPAI’s grand vision is to empower these vulnerable groups – including women and the girl-child – advocate for them and create mechanisms that ensure they have the capacity to thrive within the system.
So, the foundation’s core values are driven through community engagement, research and development, and temporary relief efforts such as the donation and distribution of food and health items.
In the past 10 years, the foundation has popularised the duty of care for the Almajiri system, worked to improve access to healthcare, shelter and education in the rural North, and also raised the importance of girl-child awareness. Hajia Bagudu has been relentless.
Perhaps, due to her soft spot for children and sincere desire to improve society, Hajia Bagudu is determined to give every underprivileged kid, particularly in Kebbi, the opportunity to go to school and make something out of themselves. A significant pointer to this drive is the foundation’s long-term goal to enroll 20,000 pupils before 2025.
In January, the foundation marked its 10th anniversary with great fanfare. But Hajia Bagudu was quick to note that work was just commencing. Speaking during a panel session at the event, she maintained her resolution to continue to give back to society through the foundation, and announced that MALLPAI was now commencing training of teachers and mallams across the North.
“We are training them into the new system so that they will be able to train the young ones,” Hajia Bagudu said. “Without primary school education, we don’t have anything because that’s the base. We are also training the Islamic schools as well as the mallams there, so that they will be able also to teach those children properly.”
The calibre of guests at the anniversary event was a testament to MALLPAI’s influence, chaperoned by Hajia Bagudu, over the years. The keynote speaker was former First Lady of Malawi, Calista Mutharika, and she praised the foundation’s work for the past 10 years. The special guest was the wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo.
Other guests present were the Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Atiku Bagudu, the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, the first ladies of Niger, Kogi and Katsina states, and the ambassadors of the United Arab Emirates and Israel.
MALLPAI’s humanitarian work within the last decade cannot be easily quantified. The foundation has purchased drugs and hospital equipment for use in maternity and health clinics in rural and urban areas in Kebbi. It has also helped in revamping many northern schools, providing skill-acquisition training.
To harness the energies of young people and provide jobs, the foundation has also assisted many, particularly students in public schools and Almajiri, with hectares of land and farm inputs.
As the new decade continues to unfold, it is reassuring that MALLPAI, held by the steady hand of Hajia Bagudu, will continue to make lives better for those left behind by the cold, indifferent winds of life.
To Hajia Bagudu, her determinism in the humanistic conscience, which is the readiness to listen to the voice of one’s own humanity, is crucial and innate in our attempt to develop. Her interest in providing for the downtrodden is premised on the fact that she has interest in others, as interest has an infectitous quality that provokes one to help those who can not initiate it without help. She believes that the most important needs are those at the bottom of the heirarchy, who are mostly Almajiris and the less privileged, and once we are able to secure their future, we have laid the foundation for a better society, Hajia Aisha Bagudu posited.