Adebimpe Tejuoso-Alafe-Aluko is the daughter of Oba Adedapo Adewale Tejuoso, the tradiitional ruler of the Osile of Oke-Ona Egba in Ogun State. The University of Buckingham-trained lawyer speaks with WOLE SAM-WHYTE on what her NGO, Branches-In-Vine-Initiative (BIVI), is doing to reduce the growing number of children living on the streets; the less privilege and how widows and widowers are being empowered to fulfill their God-given potentials in the society. Excerpts:
What actually is the driving force behind this initiative?
Well, there is always a reason for every season. My NGO, Branches-In-Vine-Initiative (BIVI) is registered and we are basically out to take good care of the less-priviledged children in our society. Although we are not up to one year, but we thank God for our achievement so far in the area of our specific objectives, which also include empowering and taking care of poor widows, widowers and the physically challenged children by helping them become meaningful and significant people in the society. But I can tell you that we are getting good result, especially in the area of children ministry, which is our starting point.
How many poor or less privileged children have you been able to train and empowered?
Our NGO has been able to lay our welfarist hands on 68 children as part of our starting point and we thank God that we’ve been able to bring out the skills in them in the areas of tailoring, fashion designing, hat, shoe and bag making, as well as art designing. Not only that, we have gone to some public schools to search for those children whose parents could not afford to sponsor or fund their educational requirments. For example, we have been to a public school in Ibadan known as Lam Adesina School to access poor students and support them with text books, writing materials, learning and skills sharpening equiplents, food and all those educational support initiatives. Our empowerment is only for students below 18 years of age.
Is that all you’re doing, because there seems to be nothing new in it?
Well, I like your submission and the angle at which you’re looking at our free services to humanity, your perception is common to many Nigerians and that is one of the major problems afflicting our country’s development. There are many fantastically rich in the society who don’t believe that their wealth is not meant only for themselves and their families alone. Many people are extremely poor and find it difficult to feed and cater for their families, yet some people have in great abundance and cannot help the less privileged. Are you going to heaven with all these wealth? Do you know what will happen to all the acquired wealth when you eventually die? Even your so-called children whom you think you’re building all these business empires for may end up bastardising all those properties you laboured to gather. So what are we saying? Nobody will receive medals or trophy in heaven for gathering wealth or properties and God will not put the rich in a separate paradise and heaven. We will all stand equally and empty before the judgment seat of God.
I hope you are not out to use your NGO to make more money and get support from some international organisations, because many people have used that method in the past to dupe people and raise money for themselves from some global donors?
I belive Jesus Christ died for all, irrespective of religion. It is the love of Christ and what He commanded us to do for humanity that is driving my passion for this ministry through the NGO.
We have trained many children on basic elementary foundational etiquettes and moral behaviour. Many of our children don’t know how to greet their elders, they don’t have culltural and moral values. No social norms. So we are out to mould their character and behaviour from primary school level, especially early in life. This is some of the foundational problems of many youths in our society today. Many parents believe that sending their children to expensive private schools is the best without knowing that schooling is just one aspect of education.
How would you be getting funds to carry out all these humanitarian services. Don’t you think it is a very diffiult task to achieve?
Thank God for my parents and my husband. I referred to them because of their little support for this initiative. My father is a good christian and a God-fearing, Jesus Christ-obeying traditional ruler in Nigeria and my husband, Chief Femi Alafe-Aluko, is also a good motivator and has really encouraged me a lot to go on. So I’m not discouraged because I’ve developed the passion for this humanitarian services since I was young.
Tell us about your father and in what way have your parents brought you up to have feelings for the less priviledged people in the society?
I don’t like to publicise my generosity for extremely poor women and children. I have a good name to protect, especially that of my husband and that of my father i.e – Oba Adedapo Adewale Tejuoso – the Osile of Oke-Ona Egba in Ogun State. As a good and God fearing Christian, my NGO is not out for fraudelent activities like we’ve seen with some NGOs in the past. I can say to the glory of God that I am comfortable in life but how many children in the society can afford to feed twice a day? Many children cannot afford good clothing, shoes and cannot even afford to cut their bushy-hair. Yet, many rich people in the society drive past those children on daily basis without stretching out a helping hand to them.
Life after death is what I’m working for because the author of eternity will ask us many questions on how we made use of our God-given wealth and riches.
How are you coping with the enormous work in the NGO. Do you have other Nigerians assisting you in terms of human and materials resources?
The work is plenty but the labourers are few, yet, we still thank God for support from people like Mrs Peju Babalola, Mrs Bukola Gbenebichie, for both financial and emotional supports. Also, we are open to more help and assistance from other well-to-do Nigerians, if they so wish.