History was made on Saturday, 30thSeptember when over one thousand recently displaced children from Otodo-Gbame slums, in the Lekki-Ajah area of Lagos State were blessed with a special free medical outreach organized by Ask The Paediatrician Foundation in conjunction with Linking Hands Foundation.
The event, which held at the expansive premises of Redeemed Christian Church of God, Resurrection Parish, Jakande, Lekki will, no doubt remain an experience to treasure, going by the outpour of love showered on the once traumatized and homeless children; all thanks to the organizers of the outreach, the generous donors that gave in cash and kind and the two hundred and fifty volunteers, comprising of both medical personnel and other professionals of repute, who served selflessly and passionately to ensure that all the children had a swell time.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Gbemisola Boyede, Founder, Ask The Paediatrician Foundation reiterated her commitment to the wellbeing of Nigeria’s children, adding that the outreach is specifically designed to educate mothers on the care of their children and also attend to the children one-on-one.
“Ask The Paediatrician Foundation (ATP) is a charity committed to the wellbeing of Nigerian children. This is our third medical outreach since we started two years ago. We have been to Makoko, Ijegun and now Otodo-Gbame. We are blessed with numerous donors, both individuals and corporate organisations that support us tirelessly as we strive to educate mothers on the care of their children and also attend to these children one-on-one so that our children can be protected and preserved from unnecessary deaths as a result of preventable diseases”, said Boyede.
To forestall children dying from such preventable diseases, Dr. Boyede urged mothers to give priority attention to immunization, balanced nutrition and prompt hospital consultation when there are symptoms of sickness instead of resorting to self-medication.
According to the Chief Host and Founder, Linking Hands Foundation, Mrs. Efe Farinre, the “the outreach became necessary because Otodo-Gbame children have been through a lot of distress and rejection; not only because they were born and have lived all their lives in the slums but much more because they are internally displaced children with no access to stable and qualitative education, healthcare and nutrition.”
Farinre explained that “Many of the children have been battered and shattered, so much so that they have come to see life as one-sided and strictly in favour of the rich and privileged few.”
“These children carry a strong sense of pain and the general feeling of injustice and insecurity in their own country, hence the need to restore hope to them by impacting their lives in very positive and practical ways, she added.”
While assuring that Linking Hands Foundation is committed to equipping today’s children to become tomorrow’s leaders, Farinre added that the medical outreach is designed to nourish them both physically and emotionally, hence the bountiful supply of food and snacks, drinks, fruits, clothes, shoes, candies, books, toiletries as well as free medical consultations and supply of medications to cater for their health.
“This outreach is not only to nourish their bodies but also their minds. We believe that this practical demonstration of love will change their mind-set about people; that although they have been cheated and rejected by some people, they can also be loved and supported by genuine people”, said she.
Dr. Belie went on to give practical demonstration on how to take care of the teeth, what to use in washing, what to eat and when to eat it in order to maintain a healthy life style.
Thereafter, the one-on-one consultation and treatment for the children commenced, with each child moving from the registration table to consultation with doctors/nurses, oral test with dentists, collection of drugs at the pharmacy and then to get-away tables where each child got free gifts such as toiletries, books, shoes, clothes, drinks, food, snacks and fruits.
Speaking on behalf of the Otodo-Gbame community, the Secretary to the traditional ruler, Mr. Sunday James Zanmenu paid glowing tribute to the Linking Hands Foundation for their overwhelming support and care for children in the impoverished community in the last three years.
It would be recalled that early this year, thousands of people in the Otodo Gbame riverine community were left homeless after police stormed the informal fishing settlement and set fire to their homes, after firing gunshots and tear gas indiscriminately, thus forcing them onto canoes in the water as their houses were levelled.
James Zanmenu said many of the children that came for the medical outreach were ferried from their new settlements through the support of Linking Hands Foundation that provided free buses to bring them to Lekki and also take them back.
Mrs. Efe Farinre has also promised to go a step further by continuing to support them in their new settlements, especially in the area of education and health. Her words, “It is so sad that as a nation, we only live for today. We do not think of tomorrow because if we do, we will invest more in our children. When a child is educated, he/she can reason well and make informed decision. He/she will not be easily swayed in the wrong direction and that is why at Linking Hands Foundation our core areas are Education, Health and Values.”
“Our commitment to these vulnerable children will not end here. We will pay their way to government school and monitor them, especially those in Makoko and also support them so they can have a stable and better life”, she assured.