Celebrating our children through polio eradication

Celebrating Children

Written by Lorretta Epuechi

 

Prior to the establishment of the Children’s Day by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954, the rights of children were almost non-existent in a lot of countries around the world. Children were subjected to different forms of abuse, exploitation and discrimination. They were used as labourers, immersed in armed conflicts, living on the streets; their sufferings were as a result of religion, minority issues or disabilities. Child mortality was prevalent largely due to diseases that were otherwise preventable. While these still occur, there is a new consciousness on the rights of a child.

The 1954 proclamation is aimed at promoting mutual exchange and understanding amongst children, and initiating action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world’s children. In promoting the welfare of children, their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, education and good health are imperative in other to enhance their life’s expectancy and development.

Under the UN Convention of the Rights of a Child, all children have an explicit right to achieve their developmental potential and to sustain the highest possible standard of health; unfortunately a lot of children have been plagued by childhood killer diseases, most being avertable.

Polio is one disease that affects children; it has no cure, but it is preventable. It is caused by a poliovirus infection and accounts for major cases of partial and full paralysis in human beings, especially children. Over the past two decades, tremendous progress has been made towards its eradication. In 1988 when the World Health Assembly established the goal of eradicating the disease, wild polio virus was endemic in 125 countries and about 350, 000 people, majorly young children were paralyzed by polio. Immunization efforts have since reduced the number of cases by up to 99% globally. Presently it remains endemic only in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

In Nigeria today, the Federal Government has committed enormous funds to its “Kick Out Polio” campaign. The goal is to completely eradicate the disease especially in the Northern parts where the disease still retains a foothold due to security challenges; challenges that resulted in the killing of health and aid workers, even the abduction of over 200 school girls.

On March 1st 2014 at an event that took place in Oraifite, Anambra State, Nigeria, the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (S.E.O.F) in collaboration with Rotary International launched an immunization program where Polio vaccines were administered to children. The founder of S.E.O.F, Sir Emeka Offor who is also Rotary International’s Polio Ambassador (the first from Nigeria) has shown a lot of commitment to the fight against the polio scourge. As part of his efforts to this crusade, he has donated more than a million USD to Rotary International and is still doing more.

During the ceremony, Sir Offor spoke on the ills of Polio and the benefits of immunization. He called on all Nigerians, captains of industries, the Civil Society and Faith Based leaders to support this noble course of ending Polio in Nigeria. In his words “Polio is an ugly monster that everyone, regardless of age, race, tribe, religion or political affiliation should rise up against, to ensure that we secure the future of our children even those yet unborn”.

As we mark the Children’s Day, let us bear in mind that our children are our future and it is our obligation to ensure the preservation of this future.

Sir Emeka Offor extends support to Benola - A Cerebral Palsy Initiative.

 Written by Dr. Edwin Ndukwe

 

Sir Emeka Offor, on Thursday 22nd of May, 2014 through the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF) donated N500,000 to BENOLA Initiative, a non-profit organization committed to change and progress for persons living with Cerebral Palsy (CP).

 

The donation was made at a gathering for a public presentation of Benola’s roadmap for Cerebral Palsy in Nigeria. In their presentation, the founders of Benola Initiative, AVM Felix Olufemi Gbadebo and his wife Mrs Alaba Adeyemi Gbadebo sought to; raise awareness about CP, create a credible database for the condition in Nigeria and other African Countries, provide care and support for affected families, engage in capacity building for professionals in the healthcare sector on the use of appropriate technology and, in concert with other stakeholders, engage in advocacy for the rights of every individual living with limitations.

 

While addressing the guests, the Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Tunji Funsho, who is also the Chairman of Nigeria National PolioPlus, appraised the significance of the roadmap document on the Nigerian healthcare system. He further affirmed that the document offers a clear direction for effective management of CP in the country, looking at the synergistic roles of government, private and civil society groups.

 

Rosaline Agiamoh, The Polio Ambassador Representative was at the event to stand in for Sir Offor who could not be present due to prior commitments. Conveying Sir Offor’s goodwill message, she commended the Benola Initiative and expressed that the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation was not only supporting the initiative with funds but also open to partner with the Benola team on other programs. Before handing over the donation, Mrs. Agiamoh reminded the founders that Sir Offor felt touched by their efforts and despite the short notice was moved to supporting the initiative with N500, 000 in bank draft.

 

Cerebral Palsy, which can affect children before or during birth and up to 3 years, is caused by damage to the motor control centers of a developing brain. It is accompanied with permanent and progressive physical disability. Only about 2% of CP cases are considered genetic. In Nigeria, about 700,000 children are affected with CP, according to a report quoted by Professor Afolabi Lesi, a Paediatrician and Dean, Faculty of Clinical Sciences at the University of Lagos.

 

Nigerian children affected by CP are largely at an increased disadvantage when compared to their counterparts in most developed countries due to poor awareness, lack of support and management tools, and due to the shame and cultural stigma associated with the condition. As loving parents, AVM Gbadebo and his wife, having a child with CP did not cause them to hide their faces. They worked tirelessly to provide the necessary support their child needed and are now extending similar assistance to others. Their efforts were applauded by the distinguished Senator Khairat Abdulrazaq-Gwadabe, who confirmed that the Benola team has touched “hundreds of lives”.

 

 

 

 

Complimenting Sir Emeka Offor’s Philanthropy

AISA PTA exco members visit Sir Emeka Offor

The President of American International School (AISA) Parents Teachers Association (PTA), Dana Mendelson, on Tuesday, May 20th 2014, led a contingency team of four of its members (Sarah Smith-Gara PTA Vice President, Simona Noca PTA Treasurer, Roseline Wathang PTA food coordinator and Hauwa Maina Maaji Lawan, President of Board of Governors) on a courtesy visit to the Executive Vice Chairman of Chrome Group (an oil & gas conglomerate), businessman Sir Emeka Offor, who is also the founder of Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (SEOF) at his corporate headquarters on 22 Lobito Crescent, Wuse 2, FCT, Abuja.

During the visit, which the group President said, was to extend their appreciation for Sir Offor’s generosity and his recent donation of the sum of N2, 000,000 towards the schools International Food Fair and Festival — a fund raiser held on April 19th at Hilton Congress Hall. Representing Chrome Group at the meeting were Mrs. Joyce Nton Human Resources Director, Group Chief Administrator Chief Innocent Anoliefo and Dr. Edwin Ndukwe Head of Communication/Business Development. Others include Honourable Tony Obi SEOF Coordinator and Rosaline Agiamoh Polio Ambassador Representative ably represented SEOF, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of the Chrome Group. Sir Offor, who was there in person to meet with the group, was accompanied by Dr. Okey Udeh (former Dep. Gov. of Anambra State), Honorable Eluemunoh, Mr Fred Udechukwu (MD GlobalScan Systems Technology) and Dr. Uzoigwe.

Mrs. Mendelson during her opening remarks stated that the purpose of the International Food Fair & Festival was to create an opportunity “for the school to come together as one community, now we have in our school about 48 to 50 nationalities and it is not always easy getting everybody together as a community and that’s one of the things the PTA works hard towards doing. The International food festival is that event where everybody comes together because each community, each nation makes food that represent…we have five tables that represent five continents of the world. And we also try to do some external fundraising, but really, I have said this before; all of us, we are just of course pleasantly shocked and amazed at your generosity and this will enable us to move forward with the project that we have towards the end of this year”.
“We actually came here to see if there is more things we can do together may be in our community or help out with all of your wonderful projects. We have an amazing student body and parents that really want to give back to the community…and so we thought this meeting might be the beginning or continuance of a beautiful friendship that we think is already sprouting, she further stated.

She continued: “Like Dana said, this is an honour for us to come and meet with you and to say thank you for your generosity and to tell you a bit about our school.” She stated that American International School is a non-profit organization that has existed for about 20 years and has been able to give scholarships to students. She mentioned that about 2 of their students have passed into the American International University in Abuja with scholarship but they are not able to do more even though there is a misconception that they have a lot of resources. In summary, the board president said the association would like to partner with a big foundation like SEOF.

Responding to their remarks, Sir Offor said his friend and brother Dr. Udeh urged him to take a look at what the school is doing and in the process he was happy to donate the sum of N2,000,000 Million towards the food fair and festival. He said two weeks later he received a letter of appreciation from the school. There he learned that the PTA body wanted to pay him a visit. To that effect, he said he had invited the Coordinator of SEOF, Honourable Tony Obi to be present to see how this partnership can be developed. Sir Offor pledged to continue his supports for AISA PTA projects and thanked them for the wonderful legacy they have maintained over the years.

Speaking at the meeting, Dr. Udeh thanked Sir Offor for his generosity to the group. He also thanked the members of the PTA for the work done in educating the young minds. As a parent of one of the students from the school, he said, he has witnessed first-hand the quality of academia and training given to the children. Turning to the visiting PTA group, he said, “the most important thing you have to take home from this meeting is that you have to frame a way to partner with what he (Sir Offor) is doing.” He further used the opportunity to enlighten the visitors on Sir Offor’s philanthropic efforts towards polio eradication in the country. “You see, he (Sir Offor) has grown into giving back to the society what the society gave to him,” Dr. Udeh affirmed. Drawing on Sir Offor’s commitment to helping the larger society, Dr. Udeh said that the Founder of Sir Emeka Offor Foundation could be likened to Bill Gates in his giving.

“I want to appreciate your visit coming to the headquarters of Chrome Group of which Sir Emeka Offor Foundaton is an offshoot, a window for showcasing Corporate Social Responsibility to the society. What actually touched me was the aspect where you are not just running that place as a PTA but also as an NGO concerned on collaborating on how to better the lives of younger people. It is very interesting in that we are collaborating with other NGOs like the Yar’adua Foundation. Hon. Obi encouraged the group to look into making provision for what he described as “indigent intelligent students” to gain admission into American International School.

Dr. Edwin Ndukwe wrote via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Former President of Guinea Bissau thanks Sir Emeka

Map of Guuinea Bissau

The Former President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau, Manuel Serifo Nhamajo, had in his capacity applauded and commended Sir Emeka Offor, the Rotary International Polio Ambassador to Nigeria and the Executive Vice Chairman of Chrome Group for his efforts and determination to rid the African continent of the scourge of polio virus. He conveyed his comments through a well-articulated communiqué dispatched to the offices of Chrome Group in Abuja.

While appreciating Sir E on his philanthropy, President Nhamajo wrote, “Myself and the people of Guinea-Bissau, wishes to commend you on your efforts, identify with you and solicit for your support to in the area of education in our country.” He further stated, “It’s my belief that we need to develop sustainable partnership to create a favorable environment to fight poverty and to seek provision of succor for the poor and needy. We are open to meet you to discuss further development.”

A copy of the letter can be read by clicking here.

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