It is the mission of Relume Foundation to bring light and hope to impoverished regions of Africa, America and the world at large. Sherri Adeosun, president of the foundation, speaks with VERA ONANA on how it intends to achieve this enormous mission, amongst other things. Excerpts:
The word “Relume” in simpler terms is to make bright again, rekindle; why did you choose that name?
We chose the name because this signifies what we do. We truly believe that Africa and most third world countries had illumination but this light was taken away and quenched over the centuries. Our desire and aim at Relume Foundation is to bring the light back into our sphere of influence. Every smile we see on the faces of the participants is a testimony that a light, a ray of hope has been reborn. Every spark on the face of a child is a constant reminder that hope and faith in themselves and their society have been rekindled. They can now dream again and not allow the limitation of their environment to keep them bound.
Is there any personal experience attached to your resolve to want to touch lives?
Yes. The answer to this question is in two folds. I was born and raised in Nigeria. My parents separated when I was 9 years old. This created a lot of hardship in my family. I know what it means to lack and not have your basic need met. It was very rough growing up.
My desire to give back started when I went to visit my husband’s village in 2008 and I saw the need of the children and the elderly. Additionally, my father-in-law was born and raised in that village and he had prayed to God years ago to give him a way out of the village. At that time, he was working on the farm with his father. After several years, his dreams came true and he was able to come to America. He moved his family to the US and today I and my husband and our children are in the United States.
Your mission is to touch the impoverished nations of Africa, America and the entire globe. Isn’t that almost over-ambitious? Africa alone is huge, how do you intend to accomplish all of that?
I have to agree with you that it sounds overly ambitious. And it can be overwhelming when you look at the need in the world; the need is great. But, I realise that all we have to do is to concentrate and meet the need of the people “one village at a time”, “one community at a time”. That is exactly what we have been doing.
Does your profession have anything to do with Relume Foundation?
Yes, I am a registered nurse by profession. And the compassion of a caregiver has been instrumental in making me who I am today. My profession plays an important role in Relume Foundation.
Since its inception, how much has Relume Foundation done?
Since its inception in 2013, the foundation has coordinated three major medical missions in Nigeria, several health fairs and conferences in the USA.
You mentioned having health care practitioners, teachers, counselors and other professionals on your team. Do they render their services for free? How do you pull them together?
Most of the people we work with render their services for free. Most of our volunteers (50 -70) come from the Household of God in Lagos. They have been instrumental in the success of our programmes. It has been a joint venture with them. Additionally, there are few practitioners that get some stipend. But, what they are paid cannot be compared to the services rendered. Pulling the team together has been a miracle; we were divinely connected to everyone on our team. Some we met through referral, others joined us from when we served their village.
Who has been financing Relume?
At the onset of Relume Foundation, my husband and I, with the support of members of the Household of God, under the capable leadership of Pastor Chris Okotie, financed the project.
As at now, we have a few consistent supporters. Last year we had a fund-raising concert. In the future, we will be conducting local events to raise funds.
What has been your greatest challenge?
Our greatest challenge is year to year financing of our projects. This has hindered us from advancing to other areas that we want to go.
Any memorable experience you would like to share?
I think one of our best moments was last year when we sponsored 30 people to have cataract surgery. It was called the “gift of vision”. It made my heart leap for joy to see some of these men and women that were almost blind regain their vision. I would love to thank the eye foundation and our various other sponsors all around the world.
How do you intend to sustain Relume so posterity can also be touched by these good works?
We intend to continue to reach out to other non-profit organisations, private companies and government parastatals.
We invite partners to come along side with us in our endeavour to create a world free of poverty, hunger and disease. One village at a time. Our mission is to achieve sustainable development in all of its conceivable dimensions and we have taken that necessary first step in bringing this to fruition, in two such villages, Ishaga and Ilewo, suburbs in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.
One might ponder, how in our relative infancy has this become possible? Yet, the response is both remarkably simple and yet provocative. With an intense desire to meet the needs of those less privileged across the globe, and especially in African rural areas, we became a conduit that connects the people that have with those that do not. In order to effectuate the necessary synergies, we availed ourselves of faith in God, and only after that, in human will to serve humankind.
Tell us about your upcoming outreach?
Our upcoming outreach will be at Ibara Orile village in Abeokuta. We will be conducting a two-day medical mission where we will be able to meet the needs of the people medically, physically, spiritually and emotionally. The other area of our programme is to reach out to the children in that village by donating school supplies and they will be ministered to by other children that will be joining us on the mission field. Additionally, we will be conducting some free health seminar for the community.