I am happiest when helping underprivileged people –Ozolua | Independent Newspapers Limited
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I am happiest when helping underprivileged people –Ozolua

Posted: Apr 4, 2015 at 3:11 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Pretty socialite, Modupe Ozolua, sauntered into the Nigerian social circle some years ago with her beauty enhancement project but all of a sudden, she went out of social circle. Recently, Assistant Editor, Sam Anokam, caught up with her for this interview



You suddenly went off social circles to concentrate on your charity works; what is your humanitarian work about?

It is called Rehabilitate Internally Displaced Women and Children (RIDWC). Since we took on thechallenge of rehabilitating internally displaced Nigerian women and children displaced due to insurgency caused by Boko Haram, our focus is to rehabilitate them, not give them relief.

Giving donations of food, mattresses, etc is giving relief; it’s not helping them get back on their feet and reintegrating them into society. Of course they need relief, as they have no means  of fending for themselves, but that is what they have been receiving for months.

In order for them to regain their dignity and start earning a living again, regardless of what petty trade they used to do before becoming displaced; they have to be assisted via enabling them to be self-sufficient again.

We have already started this process in Gombe and Adamawa states. As you know, there are many displacement camps in different States and the number of occupants differ due to the size of the camp.  In Gombe, we rehabilitated women in two camps after conducting a survey of their skills, ages, village of origin and how many children each woman has. Something no other organisation had ever done. Not even government officials had asked these people what they did for a living prior to being displaced.

After getting the information, we purchased all they needed to commence their businesses. We gave them sewing machines; money for petty trade, fabrics to trade, paid their rent, gave items needed for local food processing, clothing, food and also toys to the children.

In Yola, we set up a school for 501 internally displaced children at a camp between the ages of one to 14 years old. We gave them uniforms, shoes, writing materials and have hired the teachers amongst the displaced Nigerians at the camp; and now pay them monthly to teach the children.

That’s why we have registered and started an international awareness campaign called RIDWC, which spells out to achieve two aims; one to create awareness of their plight and also to raise funds to help rehabilitate them.

What inspired your charity work?

Anyone, who is a sincere humanitarian, knows that charity work consumes you. It is like a spirit. It takes complete possession of you. Regardless of the unbelievable challenges, sacrifices and hard work required; it fills you with unbelievable happiness and self worth.

Once you are in, there is no going out.  In addition, at this point in my life, I only do things that bring the maximum happiness and fulfilment to those I love and myself. I have discovered I am happiest when helping underprivileged people. Although, I have been doing this since 2003, I now understand it is a calling for me.

Yes, I spend more time doing charity programmes; I also balance the demands of my various businesses too.

What else have you done so far in your charity work?

Too many things. Our activities are not only in Nigeria. We have done many medical programmes in Ethiopia and other African countries. Some of our outreach programmes are free medical missions, food drives, educational programmes (free uniforms and educational materials for underprivileged children in rural schools), women empowerment, clothes and toy drives (we give toys to underprivileged children).

So far, which has been your most challenging work as we have seen some of your photographs in the creeks, far north, among others places?

Each programme is very unique.

Different challenges, different participants, expectations, funds required etc. Each is very high tension, but I would say the most challenging are the medical missions. Absolutely, the medical missions because the tension level, expectations and complexity are unbelievable! During this programme, we dealt with life and death situations because we are performing surgeries for underprivileged people that don’t even know their medical history. Although we run mandatory medical tests on each patient, it’s not the same as having an extensive physical examination done.

During the mission, different medical specialists came together in a large team, plastic surgeons, general surgeons, GYN, ophthalmologists, orthopedics, etc.

Each had different requirements for surgery, different instruments and operating room set up; different pre and post surgical instructions.

At the same time, there is so much tension because we work extremely long hours daily within a short period of time; surgeries can start at 8am to finish at 9pm for maybe five days. We push ourselves to give quality surgeries and help as many people as possible within that short period of time.

I am the magnet that holds it all together. It is me everyone wants to deal with and have handle situations, and I am the one who puts it together, deal with the surgeons, hospital personnel, media, staff, ensure proper crowd control, etc. The pressure on me before, during and immediately after cannot be explained.

How do you fund your humanitarian works?

That is certainly our biggest challenge. Body Enhancement Limited along with my other businesses are major sponsors of our humanitarian activities.

We have an official partnership with the Nigeria Customs Service through which they give us foods and relief materials to give at our discretion, and DANA Group supports us with medication to give to the poor; but that’s not enough to accomplish all the programmes we have to do.  We need more corporate sponsors along with individuals to financially support our programmes. These programmes are capital intensive and we need all the donations we can get, both in cash and kind.

Are you still in the plastic surgery business, if so, how do you combine that with your humanitarian works and if no, why?

Yes, we do. Previously we used to conduct surgeries for clients only twice annually, we now do it every quarter.

My involvement in humanitarian activities does not prevent our cosmetic procedures from holding; after all I am not the surgeon doing the surgeries.

Although, I must admit it does keep me out of the office much more, but we are still on schedule.

What keeps you going against all odds?

I honestly don’t know. I wonder sometimes, but I know God carries me through it all.

What in the long run do you hope to achieve with your projects?

My ultimate achievement in life will be to help countless people the best way I am capable of. I cannot be a role model to anyone if they leave me less than they were when they came. I have to improve their lives one way or the other; either materially or the other.

I also sincerely hope I am motivating more young men and women to be more compassionate for others in need. Yes, we all have needs, but some needs are greater than others. I pray more people will understand that one’s true worth isn’t evaluated by material assets but by how many lives you impacted positively.

In addition to the RIDWC campaign, will the foundation conduct other humanitarian activities this year?

Absolutely. We will still do food donation programmes in conjunction with the Nigeria Customs Service and are currently wrapping up preparations for a huge free national medical mission that will hold very soon. More details will be released very soon regarding that.

What is your view about women in positions of authority?

We are naturally created for positions of authority. I don’t understand why people make naïve arguments about women occupying political positions. Women are created to multi-task; run their homes, businesses, manage their children, etc. After all, what greater test of capability is there than that of being a good mother or wife? Other positions are peripherals.