By Sunday Ani
Founder of a non-governmental organization, Hope for African Children Initiative (HACI), Mr. Noel Ify Alumona said the organisation has supported over 500 poor, vulnerable children in Nigeria.
According to him, the organisation, which aims to expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education. had supported about 505 children with school materials like bags, books, school uniforms and shoes as well as writing materials among others. “We have also given annual scholarship to 160 pupils, and this has helped to enrol and sustain them in school,” he said.
Speaking to the Daily Sun, Mr. Alumona insisted that education should be for all children, irrespective of their parentage. He also said that the central place of education as the bedrock of sound national development informed the organisation’s focus on education.
“We help children reach school and stay in school because we see education as key to so many things in life. It allows you to grow and see beyond your own world. It creates opportunities and enables you to make the right choices for yourself and others around you,” he stated.
Throwing light on what HACI stands for, he said: “Hope for African Children Initiative (HACI) focuses on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, including those with disabilities as well as young people and victims of disasters and violent extremism. We are committed to helping vulnerable children and communities to access quality, all-round education support as well as vocational, technical and entrepreneurial training aimed at self-sustainability.”
The inspiration of the Enugu State-born young leader to establish such organisation came from the environment where he grew up, he noted.
His words: “I was born and bred in an environment where many children don’t go to school because their uneducated parents place no value on education. They also consider education as being very costly, unaffordable, thus, an exclusive preserve of the rich in the community. It is also an environment where being born a girl-child means a life of illiteracy, poor nutrition, limited health care, marriage before age 15 and pregnancy shortly afterwards, whether or not she is ready to have a child. The social construct developed by my community alienated the girl-child from going to school. I grew up where it was strongly believed that the education of the girl-child ends only in the kitchen. Thus, education was not just for them. Such experiences informed what we are doing.”
Despite paucity of funds, which he admitted has posed a serious threat to the organisation’s activities; he said he remained committed to the ideals of the foundation. “And that has been sustaining the organisation. However, we often appeal to friends and families to raise funds for most of our project activities,” he added.
Speaking passionately about his commitment to ensure that less privileged children as well as female children, who are out of school, were returned back to school, he enumerated.
He also spoke on the organisation’s achievements so far: “We have been able to make modest impacts through such programmes as Girls Not Bride (GNB) programme, which is committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls have access to quality education so as to fulfil their potential; Healthy HACI Kids (HHK) programme, also committed to creating avenues, where beneficiaries can access healthy and sanitary social amenities like hospitals, medicines, toiletries, sanitary pads and potable water, among others, which most rural communities, public schools and internally displaced persons camps (IDP) lack access to and Kids & Kits (KK) programme, which also aims at providing basic educational materials that the children need while in school, like school bags, uniforms, writing materials and books.
“Others include HACI Calls & Campaigns (HACC) programme, which is committed to raising awareness and calling upon parents of street children, who beg for alms as well as school dropouts, especially girl-children who were victims of early-marriage, to return to school; Ability in Disability (A-in-D) programme, committed to advocating equal opportunities for children with disabilities as well as training them to hone their skills in mechanical, technical and vocational areas and Mobile ICT & Library Initiative (MILI) programme, which is equally committed to creating access to Books and ICT through a Mobile Library and an Outdoor Readers’ Hub. The Mobile Library and Outdoor Readers’ Hub, is a unique strategy to address the lack of school, ICT centre or other local libraries for children, both in-school and out-of-school, living in poor communities, slums and IDP camps. It is designed to operate during the weekends, especially on Saturdays.”