As early as 8.00 am that Friday, scores of the physically challenged persons in Osun State started picking their ways to Ede, the country home of Deji Adeleke, to take delivery of wheel chairs to be distributed to them freely. Spring Time Development Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), founded by the philanthropist, had invited them to give them the facilities to aid their mobility. And they turned out in their numbers to collect the largesse.
Adeleke, chairman of the foundation, said it was part of the NGO’s empowerment programmes aimed at empowering the beneficiaries for self employment and sustenance in the wake of their challenges. He added that most of the beneficiaries, based on investigations, had the penchant to develop and apply their God-given talents and skills to engage in profitable ventures in order to eke out a living without depending on anybody; but lack basic facilities to actualize their dreams.
He disclosed that having discovered that they are handicapped as they do not have mobile facilities to move around to achieve their visions, the NGO considered it imperative to assist them with the wheel chairs to facilitate their movement to do something for themselves for a living. He noted that unemployment had remained one of the basic challenges being faced by the country due to economic depression and had necessitated the intervention of any NGO with foresight to proffer solution in its own way.
Vice chairman of the foundation, Banji Adesuyi, said: “Part of the reason for giving the free wheel chairs to the physically challenged is to discourage them from street begging. Most of them beg because they are not doing anything. They stay in one place to beg for a living because they cannot move about.
“Many of them have talents and skills that are buried in them because they can not move about to do anything for themselves. But with the mobile facilities that we have given to them, they can move about to do something and help themselves.
“Many of them are potential hair dressers. Some of them are good in trading. Some are good marketers. Others are potential fashion designers, shoemakers, vulcanizers and barbers. But when they think of their disabilities, they to move to street corners helplessly to beg for alms. But with the wheel chairs given to them by the foundation, lives will become better for them if only they can maximize the potentialities of the facilities.
“We encourage them to use the facility to move about and actualize their dreams of doing something for self reliance.”
One of the beneficiaries and chairman, Joint National Association of Persons Living with Disabilities in South West, Kehinde Onitiju, lauded the foundation for the kind gesture. He enthused that it had made them proud of their conditions by putting smiles on their faces and urged the management to keep the flag of its philanthropist and empowerment programmes flying. He spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries and warned his colleagues to shun begging. He added that some persons exploit beggars spiritually under the guise of alms giving.
Onitiju, graduate of English from the Lagos State University said some people who gave alms to beggars were not always sincere with the gesture but had ulterior motive to manipulate.
He added that whenever the alms givers were faced with any challenge, which could be spiritual attack against their own destiny and required certain sacrifice to pacify the agents of darkness behind the attack, they would run to herbalists or spiritualists for solution:
“When they are instructed by herbalists, spiritualists or clerics to specifically look for disabled beggars to give alms to them, then they go out in search of them and give their ill-motivated and ill-fated alms them. It could be money, clothes, food items etc.
“If you collect the alms, then you have ignorantly succeeded in mortgaging or exchanging your destiny with theirs. While their own problem is solved, your destiny and glory are at stake, tied down and stigmatized.
“That is why some beggars, including disabled ones, remain in their bad conditions perpetually.
“Don’t collect alms from people any how. You can also do something for yourself to earn a living. The fact that you are physically challenged does not mean that your destiny is over. Your star can also be bright. Don’t allow alms that can not take you anywhere in life dim your star in favour of a deceitful alms giver.”
“I want to appeal to my colleagues who use their disabilities as passports to beg for alms to desist henceforth. You should be wary of some rich men and women who give you alms because they are basically for ritual purposes. Some of them might be instructed by herbalists, alfas and prophets to look for disabled beggars and give their alms to.
“By doing this, their sicknesses, diseases and ill luck are transferred to the beggars. Hunchback victims, albinos and some other categories of special persons are no longer safe in some societies because they are being used for money rituals through ill-motivated alms giving. So, our people should be very vigilant and shun begging.”
The Orangun of Oke Ila, Oba Adedokun Abolarin, appealed to privileged Nigerians to always help the less privileged, especially the physically challenged to earn a living. He added that such gesture would go a long way in reducing crime rate in the society. No fewer than 50 of them benefitted from the largesse.
One of the beneficiaries, Omoboriowo Oladipo, a hair dresser, who hails from Okuku said the wheelchair would help her to do her job with ease as she could now move freely to buy materials needed for the job and also canvass for customers.
Another female beneficiary, Iwaloye Rukayat, a trader, said: I really thank God that I am a part of this blessing. I can now move about to do my business.”
Oriowo Olasupo, said: “Oga has made us proud. He has put smiles on our faces. He does not discriminate. He has made us to feel relevant in the society. I am a shoemaker. Before, I could not go out to buy materials to do my job. I used to send my apprentices. Now, I can move with my wheel chair to do whatever I want to do without much stress. I feel fulfilled. It is like I have my two legs complete.”