We Are Prepared To Flush Out Fake Orphanage Homes –George | Independent Newspapers Limited
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We Are Prepared To Flush Out Fake Orphanage Homes –George

Posted: Sep 10, 2015 at 12:55 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Founder, Little Saints Orphanage, Lagos, Rev (Mrs) Christiana Dele George, is the National President of Association of Orphanages and Homes Operators of Nigeria, (ASOHON). George, who is a trained accountant from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State is the first daughter of retired Major-General Samuel Ogbemudia, the military administrator of the then Bendel State. In this exclusive interview with Emmanuel Udom, she spoke on the successes and failures recorded by ASOHON under her leadership and  the role of government in the humanitarian mission of catering for unwanted and abandoned children in Nigeria, among others.

As National President, what has been happening in your orphanage association?

Rev (Mrs) Christiana Dele George

Rev (Mrs) Christiana Dele George

A lot has been happening. Our first preoccupation was to get the Lagos State chapter fully organised and effective. Members of the national executive have been presiding over it for over five years. 

We have now elected a new Lagos State executive board which is being coordinated right now by  Mrs. Maria Osawemen, founder of Vigilant Heart Society Orphanage in Ajah supported by Mr Victor Uzoma  of Friends of God Orphanage and Mrs Bola Martins of Bola Mofo Zion Shelter.

Can you precisely list out your achievements so far?

We have increased the number of membership to include 20 more states. In some states we were able to get uniform signboards for all orphanages, which enable the public to differentiate between unregistered or fake and registered orphanages.

Many fake orphanages have been shut down as a result of our input. There is a better rapport between the state ministries and ASOHON members making room for greater cooperation in defending and upholding the rights of our vulnerable children.

We have organised seminars in the states on such issues as safety, medical emergencies, prevention of accidents in homes and child rights law. In some states like Oyo, Edo and Delta, ASOHON is more involved in policy and decisions of the state government on issues affecting the orphanages and children welfare.

What about challenges?

It was not difficult trying to unite orphanages under ASOHON in Lagos state because we were working with a very faultfinding and pessimistic arm of government in the past, so the need to unite under ASOHON was imperative. We made haste to come together. 

However, getting to the state orphanages was a big challenge as some of the state officials were very suspicious of our motives. They wrongly assumed that ASOHON wanted to incite orphanages against government. We are proving so far that our intentions are noble.

The orphanages are willing to join but most do not have websites or even email addresses. They lack the man power and technical support.  ASOHON main challenge is lack of funding and support.

Majority of these orphanages need to improve on their standard because they are genuinely caring for our children especially our special needs children. Some of them are so remote that donors cannot get to them.

We still need support from the government. It does not matter how many homes government run without these orphanages they still cannot carry the burden that these orphanages carry. They need to step up by including funding of orphanages in their state budget.

Has the federal and state government assisted the association in any way?

In the approving families for adoption, fostering and in regulating the activities of orphanages they have been very zealous and proactive. In Financial or material supports, government has been very slack in almost all the states.

How is the association tackling quarks in the orphanage sector?

We cannot close down these orphanages ourselves but we work together with the state ministries to investigate and act. We report and they act. We also accommodated a huge number of the children brought from the closed orphanages. 

So far the exercise has been very fruitful in many states. Very soon the wheat will be separated from the chaff permanently.

What is happening at the Little Saints Orphanage, which you are the founder?

We have been working hard to continue to blaze the trail. Our main focus is education and we have been able to raise many graduates who today are in full employment. The rest of the children are in school and we have added two more states to our spread in Delta and Oyo states.

Our plan is to open orphanages in five states-Lagos, Oyo, Delta, Edo and Ogun. The only state left is Edo. Our God will make a way for us to do that.

What is your take on the attitude of Nigerians on adoption of children?

Just wonderful! When we started adoption in 1996, very few people were interested. We practically had to beg couples to come forward. Today we have a long waiting list. Nigerians have imbibed adoption of normal children. However we need them to take a step further by adopting children with special needs. Adoption is an act of love and these children need homes too.

Who would you hand over your orphanage to when you retire?

I hope to hand over to some of our children to be supervised by the board of trustees. Some of them are already doing social work in the orphanage.  They love each other so much. I see them doing better than I have done.

How do you combine your role as a mother, wife, and orphanage home owner?

I have a very understanding and supportive husband who gives me all I need to be at my best. I have a wonderful team of missionaries who are highly dedicated to God and committed to the mission. 

My children who are adults already are very diligent. I am so blessed to have them all. This is what the grace of God is all about. When He gives you a vision He gives the grace to accomplish it. I am grateful to God for all the loving people that surround me.

Beyond work, how do you relax?

I just rest and listen to music. We have a great band in the Mission headed by my daughter, Temitayo and listening to them relaxes and inspires me a lot. I love to read inspirational books and watch good movies.