Iyabo Ojo marked the 5th anniversary of her charity organization, Pinkies Foundation, on Sunday, May 1, 2016, at R&A City Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos. Celebrities who stormed venue include Mercy Aigbe, Sunkami Omobolanle, Muyiwa Ademola, Doris Simon, Fathia Balogun, Adedimeji Lateef, Adunni Ade, Ade Banks, Biodun Okeowo, Liz Da Silva, Adediwura Gold, Regina Chukwu, Dayo Amusa, Tayo Sobola and others.
ENCOMIUM Weekly had an interview with the celebrant who was grateful to God for the success of the foundation.
How do you feel about today’s event?
I am excited, I don’t know where to start from but I just thank God everything was a success. I give God the glory, it is not easy to gather people together to do an event like this, but I thank God that the people came and you can see those children, they are so happy, and everyone is smiling and interacting with one another, I feel blessed and fulfilled today.
Being the 5th edition, what inspired the theme of today’s event?
It is to create more awareness for people to celebrate with these special kids, because most times they don’t have the opportunity to go to events like this to interact with everyone. So, I decided this will be an avenue where they can interact with everyone, feel happy, feel good, feel like they are also one of us and also to bless them in our own little way. So it’s been something I have been doing from time to time, so this is just one of it.
Five years down the lane, what has the experience been like?
It has not been easy, because people did not understand what the foundation has been all about become it is female dominated. But I thank God that people are beginning to understand what the foundation is all about and there is no stopping, we are going to keep giving. I will tell you that one of the secret of my success is by me giving and by encouraging others to be a giver.
What has been the challenge of running the foundation?
It has not been easy, when you have to run a foundation that has over twenty something women, you know some come, some goes and some remains. It has not been easy, but as a president, you have to accept things the way they come, you have to be cool about it, you have to be patience about it and very diplomatic also about it. So, it has not been easy, it has taught me to be more diplomatic, it has taught me to be more enduring, it has taught me to me be more reserved, it has taught me to understand people, and to take time to do things.
Initially, when this foundation started, you started as Pink Ladies Forever, there was an erroneous impression that the group was meant for lesbians, how were you able to convince the society?
Like you said initially what the challenges were, and I told you that the beginning of the challenges is that people did not understand the group and one of the reason why, was because of the name the group was bearing then. A lot of people took it the other way round, thinking it was a lesbian group. But I used to tell people that I am not going to get discouraged because people say it is a lesbian group, because those that have come and gone, they will testify to what we are doing and people began to see what we are doing. So, when you have a positive project or message, sometimes, the way and manner, been an actress, people tend to term it in different forms and different fractions. But if you know where you are going and you are focused and you know you have a positive aim, it is just a matter of time. So Pinkies Foundation have been able to show itself that this is who I am, this is what I am made for and this what I have come to represent.
How many people have you touched their lives?
I have countless people that we have touched their lives. We have been to over 15 schools and some we have been thrice twice or thrice. We have gotten awards I can’t even count. We thank God we are still doing our humanitarian services. I have one of them here that is on our scholarship and we have been sponsoring the boy for the past two years now and we are still doing it. We have never stopped. I am just seeing him for the second time in two years. But we have always been sending money to him to help him. His life has been touched, his mother saw me and she was almost in tears. She was telling me how much the contribution we have been giving him every month has done to their lives, and it has taken them off the streets that they don’t have to beg for food. So, in that alone, even if it is just one person, at least one life is been touched and been saved, it is a whole lot of blessing to me.
This kind of foundation should have made a kind of arrangement for government support, why have you not been doing that?
You see, I am not having this foundation to make money back from people, I am having this foundation to give back to the society. So, if I say I want to do something, the few people I can invite, I will invite, but when I want to start looking at the government to come into it then I am trying to make some money out of it. I am doing this because this is how I and my friends want to give back to the society. So, I am not looking at it from the point that I want the government to come in. When it comes to my profession, then I want the government to come in, but when it comes to this foundation, if they chose, like the First Lady of Kwara State, Mrs. Omolewa Ahmed heard about it and said I also have a foundation like this and I am willing to come to support your foundation, that is a good one. So, in situations like that, if they want to come and show support, it is fine, but it is not that we really need it, because whatever they give to us we are giving it back to those special friends of ours.
Been the president of the foundation and a star actress, how do you get to combine the two, does it distract you?
No, it doesn’t. What we have to do is, we plan ahead by sending them notice that we are coming, all they need to do is they send us their quotation about what they need, things they want us to help them get. So, I have to talk to all my friends that are involved so we take out time, especially on Sundays when the road is free and people are not going to work or doing business. So, we plan ahead. I am a very organized person, so I always plan everything that I do so that one does not affect the other.
Where do you see this foundation in the next five years?
We are going to keep doing what we are doing, we are going to keep putting smiles on people’s face. So, in five years from now, I pray and hope that we have our own home where we can actually have our own students that are going to take care of.
What is your membership strength?
We are about 25.
-TADE ASIFAT and GLORY OSIGWE