Apostle Samuel Ogbonna, manager of the Ighalo Orphanage at number 39, Olasuji Oladapo Street, Ijegun, Lagos Nigeria. Ighalo Orphanage Home was founded by Nigeria/International striker, Odion Jude Ighalo with a burning desire to make a difference in the lives of those who have had rough starts in life.
According to Ighalo who was born in Ajegunle, ‘Life was tough growing up in Ajegunle and I vowed that if I eventually had a breakthrough, I’ll give back to the society that made me.’ Hence, the Ighalo Orphanage Foundation berths.
Before Mr Ogbonna an Apostle of the ‘Word’ took up the mantle to manage Ighalo Orphanage Home three years ago, he had previously managed a cosmetic company as a production manager; quality control officer; marketing supervisor and has also worked as an admin manager of a manufacturing company in Agbara.
Mr Samuel Ogbonna holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nnsuka (UNN), class of 2010 and did his mandatory youth service in Lagos.
CREEKVIBES OLUWADAMILARE DANIELS had an interesting interview with the Apostle in charge. Excerpt;
Let’s talk about the Orphanage. What are the most necessities for an orphan?
The most necessity of an orphan… let me correct an impression. The word ‘orphan’ if you look up in the dictionary, states a child that is motherless or fatherless. But with the 21st Century situation, you and I have become fathers to many.
So the necessities of an orphan, mean what an orphan needs to survive? An orphan needs most importantly good health care and shelter, in Economics we have three basic needs of man: Food, Shelter and Clothing the orphan needs these including medical care, due to the circumstances they found themselves the majority of them were abandoned some were abused.
I can tell you that we have two types of abandonments of a child:
Abandonment at a certain age of a child, there are some children government brought to us they are between the ages of nine months to one year you will know that they were under the care of some certain parents who later abandoned them, some of them got strayed and couldn’t locate their homes.
Some we brought in at tender ages to do menial jobs and the communication links got broken and couldn’t go back to their roots anymore.
Some can’t give you valid addresses, they don’t know the name of their guidance or the parents they lived with. So, the moment they were brought to Ighalo Orphanage Home, the first thing we do is to give them comprehensive medical attention to know their medical status, government hospital will come in handy, no matter how bad the economy of Nigeria is, some of the hospitals are trying in cupping this kind of situation.
So, once the medical history is established we commence treatment from there and absorbed them properly in the home afterwards we get them ready for school.
Have you succeeded in tracing some contacts?
We have succeeded in tracing a lot of contacts, by next week we are tracing another in Lagos and soon we will move to Ibadan to trace families and God has been helping us.
Do you know how we trace the contacts? When the police hand over a child to our orphanage home from the Child Protection Unit, Alausa; at the Ministry of Social Development. There is always a location where the child was found or the person that took the child to the Child Protection Unit or the police, we’ll get that person’s contact go one-on-one with that person to get a clue.
We will inquire on how he or she found the toddler, whatever we deduced from that person, we forge ahead, by contacting 3, 4 or 5 related people we may find one of the parents. But if in the end there is no family or parent insight, we will report back to the Ministry of Youth and Social Development, precisely the Child Protection Unit, and then get a ‘Care Order’ so that they are not kept illegally or molested.
So at that point, the government comes up with a vision of adoption/fostering because every child must be under the care of a family.
Do people come to adopt children from your Orphanage?
Yes, but the person must come with a letter of adoption given and signed by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Youth and Social Development.
Concerning the children in your orphanage does Ighalo pays the school fees or how do you run the school fee packages/responsibilities?
Ighalo, not only pays the school fees from the lowest naira he takes care of the medications, and food according to the Home statement of account, we spend a bit over N600,000 (Can you imagine?)
The least we have spent is N370,000 in a month on feeding and medication. Then, the School because we enrolled them in a private school, as I speak one of our children is writing NECO/WAEC, on Odion Ighalo bill. He pays not less than N480, 000 every term.
So, by and large, do people come to support, or give care, maybe bringing clothes and food items to the orphanage?
Yes, people do come to give donations, they come with food items, and clothes as well, some with cash while some demands account details and do the needful.
Have you encountered a scenario where children taken from dumpsites were dropped at your gate?
No child has been dropped by our gate rater people do come to say they want to drop their child because they can no longer care for the child. Maybe they have five children and can only care for four or three, so I and my colleague, a social worker and also a Professional counsellor do advise them to go and register their children with the Ministry, the Ministry will know the best place to place their children for security reasons because if they place that child here without government’s knowledge and approval somebody can come and say I am looking for my ward and if they find that child here, it becomes illegal adoption.
If a child is found at a dump site, even if we found that child we don’t have the right to keep that child at Ighalo Orphanage Home rather we will contact the Ministry, and the Ministry will come and pick that child and go because the person that dumped that child may be hidden somewhere watching who picks the child and where the child is taken to. So, what you do is when you find something like that or somebody called your attention to it because they do call our attention on several occasions.
We will call the attention of the Ministry, the Ministry will come with their rescue team and pick up the child.
As a manager of an Orphanage Home, what is the biggest challenge that you have ever encountered?
I’ve encountered several challenges.
Number one, when a child is brought to the Orphanage home, you don’t know the family setting he/she has passed through, that child is coming with a different character and challenges that you must accommodate; there is what we call Assimilation and Association in government.
You will try to assimilate what the child is coming with then analyze and adapt to associate that child correctly.
So the child will not feel stigmatised, like feeling… this is not my home.
So that depression does not set in. You must devise a pattern and also create a kind of environment that will be conducive for that child to get along with other children in the home and when he goes out, he will fit in properly, into society.
The number two challenge is some of them come with a lot of sicknesses at inception or in the case of child abuse, the trauma of the physical abuse still affects them.
We engage them in counselling and check their spiritual well-being as well by praying with them.
(cuts in) Like a deliverance?
Yes, If the need for that arises because everything we call deliverance may not be deliverance, it could be talking to the child and not necessarily mean shouting at one demon that does not exist.
Sometimes we apply simple psychology not every time is for deliverance and prayers, so with simple psychology approaches our challenges become minimal.
As an Apostle of the Word; a word for our readers?
You know, we are following the footsteps of our boss, I called him ‘Apostle of Charity, you may be seeing him on the field playing football but what he does is enormous.
Some people go to pay tithe in a church where the Pastor is already a billionaire, you know a teaspoon of water can’t fill an ocean, So I will advise those patriotic Nigerians to pay their tithes in Orphanage Homes, they need it more.
The dream that gave birth to Ighalo Orphanage Home is the Vision we are following and that is this: People should stop abusing children; stop throwing away children, they are the future leaders.
Sorry to say this, but it is possible that why Nigeria is going this way, maybe because the children that would have been better leaders were thrown away and probably died.
Until we get those people and bring them up alive, things may not go well.
Sometimes while driving along the road and noticing some children, I can predict three over five of what their problems are.
We are not only taking care of orphans or motherless children, we care for the widows in this community too.
We carry out our social corporate responsibility, during the Pandemic Lockdown, we shared palliatives and during the EndSARS protest, we distributed Palliatives as well.
Mr Odion Ighalo is someone that God has blessed, he provides food for people in this community.
We also help other orphanage homes that are coming up with items.
I will want you as a reader to love your neighbours as yourself, when you say, you love God and you don’t love the next person, you don’t love God. Have you seen God before? Is God a White man or black? Is He short or tall? Is He fat or slim? If God says he made man in His Image and likeness, it means you look like God, If I love you, I love God If you love me you love God, If I love my neighbour, I love God If I see them in need, I will help them.
So, that is my message to Nigerians.
Ighalo Orphanage home was built due to what Mr Ighalo saw while growing up in Ajegunle, as a growing lad he told God to establish him so he can shelter those children which are thrown into the gutters and God heeded when the international star started making money, he built this orphanage and today we have 21 children, 20 are in school, and one is a month plus old.
Ighalo built this orphanage on the 15th of December 2018 and it started operation on the 3rd of January 2018. Currently, we have 11 staff.
When the Home started, how many children do you have?
The home started with a baby girl, she was brought here on the 5th of January 2018 in less than 2 months we had 12 children.
Do you know the name of the first child that was admitted here?
Yes! Her name is Gift, a lot of them have come and gone we were able to unite some with their families through contact tracing some were adopted through the appropriate channel.