Interviews, People

Supermom Heart of Gold winners narrate with nostalgia how they built the orphanages

The fourth edition of Supermom was a success no doubt. It was quite unique and different from previous ones. It was tagged Supermom Heart of Gold. Three winners emerged on October 5, 2013. So-Said was the overall winner, while Chiprom came second, Vigilant Heart came third.

All three winners are orphanages. Their owners narrated pathetic stories of a humble beginning and how they were able to build the homes into an enviable height.

ENCOMIUM Weekly had interviews with them on their winning strategies and what inspired the berth of the homes, and sundry questions.

‘I have always overcome’ – FELICIA MARTINS, So-Said Charity Home

Felicia Martins

Felicia Martins

How do you feel winning?

I was so glad to hear that So-Said Charity Home  had won, but I was more impressed by the number of people that was calling and congratulating So-Said, which means that the public are really interested in our work. I was also impressed by the amount of cash involved because we have won so many awards before but with no meaningful cash, like the PAN Atlantic University award where I did my Social Sector Management (SSM) course. There, we won reasonable cash award and Coca-Cola company that was responsible for the award doubled the cash for us, unlike other awards that come with image presentation.

What inspired the decision to start an orphanage?

The decision to start the charity organization is from God. It came as an inspiration, this is so much because God is interested in the lives of the people on the street and their innocent children. Human beings are the heart beat of God and God is love and care.

How did the journey begin and what has been the experience?

The journey of running a vulnerable persons home (destitute) started in 2000 when I was a part-time student of Law at the Lagos State University. It came as an inspiration whenever am on the road or in my dreams, I used to hear the voice of God talking to me to take care for the destitutes on the streets and their offsprings. At a time I started calling meetings of my friends on how to care for this group of people, we will cook for them. They will contribute, even though they don’t accept to go to the fields with me to reach out to the destitute. This I did with a photographer and a video boy, before I deferred my course at the university and resigned my job from Kafam Services Limited as a general manager. I started fully with a destitute at 64, James Igbe Street where we built a shanty house and we stayed there without electricity for four years, using only atupa (local lantern) because of hardship. People within the vicinity did not understand that these group of people can be cared for, so we were ignored, until First City Monument Bank came to our life and we registered with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) Abuja and they contributed to the salary that enabled us to employ some staff. Before F.C.M.B came, we were using their pictures to beg for food at the market. We appreciate our friends at Awodi-Ora market in Ajeromi L.G.A, Lagos, our first donors who donated food stuff, Hon. Leke Pitan, former commissioner for health/education Lagos State invited us to his birthday at Ikoyi, Lagos, he also invited us at his office at Alausa where we received cash donation and he gave the home free medical care at Ajeromi General Hospital. This ran for some years until there was a change in the administration, though since then till today, the journey has never been easy.

What are some of the challenges you face running the orphanage?

My experience is so terrible but by His grace I have always overcome. My first experience was with a lady on the street associating with lunatics and destitutes. This experience was the first embarrassment to my friends and family, which scared them away from me for so many years. The worst was when I was beaten up by my husband and my first son. They drove me out of my home for eight months, alleging that I was bringing disgrace to the family by associating with unclean people in my community. People mocked me on the street. Even in the shanty house where I housed them, people would come and say that there is no God in this place, God cannot start with you like this. Even some Christians forgot that little beginning cannot be despised. I run a street project, I have slept on the street, we stayed in the shanty for eight years, I lived there with them till date. We eat from the same pot, we eat what people donate. We were not popular. So it was difficult raise fund mostly when they fall sick. Before F.C.M.B came, I slept with them alone in hospital and it was so difficult to manage these people due to financial constraints, trekking, asking for assistance. Till today, we pass through stress, and we appreciate our board members and patrons who share our burdens, but we feel the pain directly. Most times people would say government is supposed to do things for the people, but we can’t leave it for the government alone. Some of our challenges are finance, medical care, feeding, building materials, drugs, vocational training materials, office equipment, staff salary, provisions and vehicles.

How do you get finance for the home?

We are being assisted financially by the public.

Did you envisage you will win Supermom Heart of Gold?

Yes, we envisaged, winning Supermom because we have won many competitions and prices, due to our work. People are scared of indulging in this type of work but by the grace of God who called us, we have won awards like, Nigerian role model, Mother Theresa of our time, Queen of the downtrodden, Woman of courage, Bold step award, Heart of kindness, etc.

When you were declared winner, what was the first thing that came to your mind?

When we were declared winner, we were all excited. The first thing that came to my mind was the amount of cash involved and all our benefactors.

What will you say gave you an edge over others to win this competition?

Our area of specialization and our achievements.

What did you win and how do you intend to spend the money?

I hope to use the money for the completion of the decking of the female block that has been roofed.

What is the lesson you learnt from the show?

The lessons learnt from the show are: hard work, diligence transparency, accountability and honesty. May God Almighty continue to help the sponsors of Supermom reality show for celebrating people of great impact.

Tell us about yourself?

My names are Concern Felicia R.D. Martins, I am 45, and happily married and a mother of five. I hail from Abia State, but born and brought up in Lagos. I’m a social worker. I attended several schools and the last where I studied Social Sector Management (SSM) was at Pan Atlantic University, Lagos.

‘It’s a good feeling’ – DAYO IDOWU, Children of Promise Ministries

Dayo Idowu

Dayo Idowu

Congratulations on your emergence as the first runner up of Supermom, how does it feel?

It is a good feeling to know that our effort is recognized by many Nigerians across the country.  It also feels good to know that people are beginning to be drawn to the plight of orphans and vulnerable children.

What gave you an edge over others?

We believe it is simply the sincerity of purpose and calling.

Did you envisage you were going to come out tops?

Not at all.

Describe your experience on the show?

It was a wonderful experience, my heart was very appreciative of the team that documented our journey.  In addition, I was happy and prayed that the show would serve as an avenue to change hearts, perception and inspire people to recognize the need to lend a hand to the less privileged.

What inspired the decision to start an orphanage?

Ours was a calling from God to return home to Nigeria to rescue orphans and vulnerable children.  We regularly came home from Canada yearly and our experience of the plight of the less privileged children roaming the street during school hours pushed our emotions to the brim.  My wife and I returned to Canada to formulate a plan of action on how we could be of help to these children.

How did journey began and what has been the experience?

The journey began in 2004 when we started to build the home for the children.  We launched out in April 2005 with a seven year old boy and our first set of twins were brought in.  The journey has been very rough with bumps along the way.  Our experience is that people deliberately try to impede our transparent and compassionate effort to bring smiles on the faces of many children.  Artificial opposition to our work and people putting into contention our intentions frequently back-rolls our effort.  Another great challenge we have is lack of local volunteers.  I travel around the world to solicit for international volunteers to help us out.  There is no greater joy than this.

What are some of the challenges you face running the orphanage?

The work we do requires lot of funds to run efficiently and effectively.  A greater percentage of the expenses we incur in the running of the home come from our personal finances.  We do not get financial support from the government or any sector on a consistent basis.  People feel that an orphanage only needs support during Easter and Christmas.  We would have been very happy if churches see the work we do as an extension of the work of Jesus Christ and thereby support us.  We do not have any commitment from our fellow Nigerians and without volunteers, our work can be very difficult.  But our joy is in seeing the growth and positive changes in the lives of the children we support.

How many children do you have currently?

23 children.

What did you win and how do you intend to spend it?

We have not been alerted of any prize.

Can you tell us about yourself?

Pastor Dayo Idowu is President and Founder of Children of Promise Ministries Inc. Canada (CHIPROM), a non-governmental, non-denominational charitable organization created specifically to respond to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children. The organization operates a children transitional home in Nigeria. He is also the President of Dorvict Resource & Consulting Centre Inc., a consulting and human resources management firm in Canada (Toronto, Barrie). He has served on many boards in Canada, including Etobicoke Extend A Family, International Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services, Ontario Chapter, and Havilah Vines. He is a certified instructor in non-violent crisis prevention Intervention training, a train the trainer instructor in Human Resource Management, conducts management training ethics.  Pastor Idowu has a Bachelor’s degree from Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia and a Master’s degree from McMaster University Hamilton, Ontario, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services at Humber College, Toronto Canada.  A doctoral degree candidate.

‘I have a passion for helping the needy’ – MARIA OSAWEMEN, Vigilant Heart Charitable Society   

Maria Osawemen

Maria Osawemen

How does it feel to be among the top winners of Supermom Heart of Gold?

I never knew until much later that it was a competition. I am happy and I thank Supermom for the publicity.

What inspired the orphanage and how has the experience been?

I have a passion for helping the needy, orphans, abandoned, and motherless children. I had for many years taken it upon myself to be feeding, every Tuesday and Thursday, destitute, orphans, motherless and abandoned children at the Majidun Rehabilitation Centre, Ikorodu, Lagos and other locations in Lagos State. I was inspired to establish the orphanage so that orphans, abandoned and motherless children can survive the bleak and life-threatening condition in which they found themselves. It is an enormous and difficult task but I am not daunted because helping the poor and underprivileged gives me joy.

What are some of the challenges in running the orphanage? How do you get finances for the Home?

The main challenge is finance: We are at the moment in a rented accommodation. A piece of land has been donated to us to build an orphanage and we need support in cash/and in kind to build the home. Another challenge is putting these underprivileged children in school. We have Sponsor A Child Health and Educational Programme for orphans and needy children. Many children in the orphanage are in nursery/primary and secondary schools. We seize this opportunity to appeal to individuals and organisations to take up the sponsorship of these children. Our sources of finance are donations and direct sponsorship of projects. We are looking forward to corporate bodies to come to our aid.

How many children do you have currently?

At the moment we have 26 (twenty six) children.

Did you envisage you were going to come out tops?

When Supermom came to interview me I merely saw it as the usual attempt by the media to inform members of the public. I didn’t know and I was not informed that it was going to be a sort of competition among orphanages or care providers. I have been doing charity for more than 18 years and I have experienced and successfully handled more heart-rending stories than the one that narrated when I was interviewed.

What did you win and how do you intend to spend it?

I am told the Vigilant Heart Charitable Society came third and would be entitled to N500,000 (five hundred thousand naira).The money when received would be used  to pay outstanding school fees for two of the children who have passed a competitive examination to a secondary school.

Tell us about yourself?

I am Mrs. Maria Osawemen. I am happily married and I have four children. The youngest is 27 and is an engineer in a multinational company.

–  AJOKE ONITOLO

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