By Mohammed Takura
About 500 lucky pupils in two Lagos public primary schools have become the first beneficiaries of the One Child, One Schoolbag project, launched recently by Save our Needy (SON), a non-governmental organisation.
The pupils of St Michael Nursery and Primary Schools 1 & 2, and Alaworo Nursery and Primary school, both at Ojo, on the outskirts of Lagos, smiled from ear to ear and prayed for SON as they received their school bags and writing materials at a brief ceremony.
According to Ms Marvella Odili who established and runs SON, the donations were aimed at encouraging schooling among the pupils. “We will soon be launching the Better Life through Education, project, she told the magazine, “with the aim of promoting early childhood development, encouraging basic education and creating a conducive atmosphere for learning.
“We’ll be donating basic school necessities including whiteboards, chairs and desks. We’ll also be undertaking renovation work in some of the damaged classrooms. The project will be implemented in partnership with the Shoprite Community Network and it will take place in Festac Town, Lagos.”
The SON was founded on April 11, 2011 in Cotonou, Benin Republic and also operates an office in Lagos. Its principal objectives include poverty alleviation, through the promotion of education, youth and women empowerment. It also works with others in creating awareness about killer diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria.
Besides, the organization focuses on children, women and youth. Odili said the SON has, since its inception till date, implemented “a number of life-changing projects, touching thousands of lives in very positive ways.”
She explained: “Our projects include: One Child, One Schoolbag, Happy Day, Reaching out to the Needy, SON Youth and Women Entrepreneurship Programme, Feed the Needy, Santa comes to Visit, SON AIDS Awareness Programme, STOP Malaria NOW and One Wish Granted.
“We have visited orphanages, hospitals and disadvantaged homes both in Nigeria and Benin Republic, spreading hope to the hopeless and the abandoned, through donations of cash, food items, clothing, toiletries and other basic necessities.
“In the near future, we hope to touch more lives through the One Child, One Schoolbag Project, where 1000 disadvantaged kids, particularly girls in Nigeria will be given free schoolbags, writing materials and water bottles in order to promote education and encourage girl-child enrolment in schools.
“We also have the Project SAVE (Skills Acquisition, Vocational training & Empowerment), where we intend to give free training to widows, single mothers and school dropouts, to enable them become self-independent. We also hope to launch our education scheme through which we will award scholarships to deserving disadvantaged pupils and students, as well as encourage worthy initiatives. We are committed to putting smiles on the faces of the downtrodden and the abandoned in our society. We hope to avail the less privileged of opportunities to attain sustainable human development.”
Odili was a former Cultural Affairs Officer at the American Embassy, Cotonou. She holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from Universite d’Abomey-Calavi, Benin Republic.