Category Archives: Case Studies

A Father’s Appreciation

This post is a cut and paste of an email received from a father of one of the boys (Mark*) reconciled in July 2013. They wrote to say thank you after our most recent visit yesterday. The only corrections we made in editing were in respect to privacy of names and spelling, which are underlined. Please read and be encouraged!

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Ma, I hereby tender my appreciation to fair life africa on behalf of my family for tremendous job that your Organisation have done for my family. You erect my dilapidated family to the standard structure, you refurbish my family from scrap to grade one, IF NOT you, where Mark could have been today? he might be a convict or run into the hand of Ritualist. but i can boast of him. even his attitude are far better than the time he was with us. PARTICULARLY, I direct  my appreciation to the CEO, Mrs Ufuoma Ashogbon, OLOROGUN &    her entire staffs.  May Almighty GOD be with you all{Amen} Today, Mark’s education that was abolished is now continuing, Our business that has crashed is now commencing through your family support of new  BIG THERMOCOOL FREEZER  worth N120,000 and cash of N50,000 for purchasing of SOFT DRINKS and PROVISIONS. and so many other donations that i cannot mention due to the mobile page limit. GOD WILL REWARD YOU IN ABUNDANCE. AMEN

Three FLA Kids

The Prodigal Son – A Story About Second Chances

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Many of us have heard the tale of the ‘Prodigal Son’ as recorded in the Bible. We all know the lesson well. The bottom line is – the Father forgives and receives his child who returns home, even after all he had squandered away.

However, many wonder if this type of forgiveness is possible in real life. Are real fathers able to forgive and embrace a child who may have stolen from them, lied about them, ruined their business and their name, and take that child back believing that he can, or even HAS, changed? Is it really possible to get a second chance?

This is a story for those who believe in second chances. This is a story for those who understand that forgiveness is not based on the measure of wrongs, but on the goodness of the heart that forgives. That is why we can all forgive anyone, and we can all get a second chance. However, this version of ‘The Prodigal Son’ has two parties who need to give and to receive forgiveness…

John is a 15 year old boy from Oyo state, Nigeria. He is the only child of his parents, but has step-siblings. John’s father married two wives, but his mother left their home when he was still quite young. We met John at a Police Shelter, where he was being looked after as a lost child, after he had spent some time on the street working for a woman at Oshodi, in Lagos. Fair Life Africa intervened by taking him along on a home tracing excursion.

On this trip, we located his father in Ibadan. At that time (September 2012), neither of them was ready to be reconciled. John’s father complained that this was not the first time that John had run away from home, and he couldn’t understand his behaviour. John’s initial story was that he did not intentionally leave home, but had lost the money that he was given to go for an errand. The truth was that he had lost the money for his return trip, but when someone offered him bus fare to go down to Lagos, he chose to follow the other child rather than to return home. He said that he was afraid that he would be flogged by his father for returning so late, which was an expected outcome.

John became a resident at the Respite Home in September, with the expectation that in time, he would be ready to return home to his father. He was enrolled into a primary school, despite his age, because his educational standard was low. While at the Home, he also attended group and one to one counselling sessions with our social worker, which he participated well in and he has shown significant progress emotionally.

John proved himself to be hardworking and generally well behaved. He derives joy from impressing people around him and loves to be noticed and acknowledged. He has improved considerably in hygiene, as he takes care of himself and his space well. He also does chores assigned to him happily without grumbling and often offers a helping hand. Academically, John was one of the top scorers in his class (3rd place), and showed that he had potential, but needs someone to encourage and guide him to apply himself.

Efforts to reconcile father and child commenced early, with regular phone calls and invitations to his family to visit the Home. In terms of distance and finance, it was a challenge for them, but they were encouraged by our persistence and honoured our invitation to attend our Christmas Party. After that, they visited again, and the process of reconciliation was well underway…

Most of the boys were initially sceptical about the idea of returning home, but soon, it was the ‘in-thing’. Once a child’s family visited the Home, they all wanted the same experience. And so, John longed for his chance to go home and spend the weekend with his family, after Derek (another child we wrote about) enjoyed this opportunity. Not long after, John also went home for the weekend, and then a few weeks later, he enjoyed a long Easter break with his family in Ibadan.

We are pleased to report that after ten months at our Home, the reconciliatory process with John and his family has been a successful one. John’s father came twice in July to the Home, as the time for the return of his child drew near. He came first to attend a final meeting and assessment session, where he and John were both counselled on how to approach their relationship moving forward. The father was counselled to adopt alternatives methods of disciplining his child, which will not cause him to be afraid of him, but to draw near to him in times of trouble. John was also reminded that running away would not solve his problem, and that his story could have ended very badly, like many of the cases of children who live on the streets and come to untimely death.

On the 27th of July, John’s father was among the parents who attended our Leaving Party for the boys graduating from our programme. We were not sure if he would come, given that he had already come just over a week before, and money and distance were obstacles for his family, but we were sure glad to see him! The boys performed a drama for their families, which illustrated the lessons they had learnt from their time of ‘prodigal’ behaviour. The CEO’s message also re-affirmed each parent’s need to make the sacrifice and come. She recounted how well the Father had celebrated the return of His child, and compelled all that indeed there is a reason for us to celebrate now. Rather than focusing on what was lost (time, money, resources, friends etc), we should focus on what was gained and has been restored. Read The Leaving Party report.

Peter, Derek, James, Andrew and Mark’s families were also around on the 27th to take their children Home, and shared their testimonies during the ceremony. Simon and Thomas returned home the following week, as Simon’s family was unable to make it down, and we needed to stabilise Thomas’s living conditions before he returned home. Peter’s families also received aid from Fair Life Africa Foundation, which enabled his family to rent a new and better suited accommodation.

John and his father left the Respite Home after the ceremony for Ibadan, loaded up with gifts and provisions. We are sure that we won’t find John on the street again. We can testify that he has changed, and we believe also that his father has changed too. Thank you for your support which enabled this miracle of reconciliation. Read up on other inspiring stories of the FLA Kids at http://www.fairlifeafricablog.com.

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Andrew’s Story

(Written with permission, by Emeke Ndego and Ufuoma E-Ashogbon).

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Hi my name is Andrew* (this is not my real name, though). I was born on May 26, 1997 and that makes me 16 years old. I am from Kogi State. I learnt about Fair Life Africa Foundation when Uncle Ayo and Aunty Tope met me at Oshodi and invited me to visit the Home.

Oshodi was my home for three months and I felt comfortable staying there, because I met a lot of young boys like myself who were living on the street. The only people I feared were the Task Force people. While in Oshodi, I used to help people carry their load for some money and later I went to work in a food vendor shop where I washed plates. I didn’t know a place like Fair Life Africa existed and I was glad when I was chosen as one of the twelve boys they took in.

I grew up in Ikorodu town, Lagos State, with my parents and siblings. It was not always happy times as my mother and father were always fighting and, sometimes, it would be long before they would settle. What eventually made me leave home was the separation between my parents. I attended a primary school and went to secondary school, though I did not complete my Senior Secondary School education before I ran away from home.

When my parents separated, my mother took us with her. The decision to leave home was not easy for me but I had to leave when I could not stand the constant beatings from my mother. I had not been so well behaved but I don’t think children should be maltreated the way I was. For instance, there was a time I took a phone that my mother promised but refused to give me as a reward for passing my common entrance examination into secondary school. I forgot it with my best friend while I was playing football and when my mother found the phone, she gave me a serious beating and burnt my chest and hands with a pressing iron.

At every little thing I did, I was punished. This made me fond of running away from home and anytime I came back, I regretted my decision to return. One day, I made up my mind and ran very far away from home. I went to Iperu, Ogun State where we normally went for our church convention. At Iperu, I slept in a mosque, and would go to the stream every day. After that I was free to roam around as I wanted, from video game centres to football fields. At weekends, I would look for any party spot and help them to wash plates and they would give me food and sometimes money.

Things were not easy there, though, as I used to pluck fruits from the tree and ate the burnt part of processed cassava (because that was the major business people were doing there). At first, I was happy because there was no beating like there was at home. But after three months, hunger made me run back to Lagos and I went to Yaba and stayed there for one week before leaving for Oshodi.

Things are not the way they used to be, as Fair Life Africa gave me the chance to go back to school and to reconcile with my family. Before entry, I, Peter and Mark, were made to sit a test at the secondary school, to know if we would be able to cope in school after a long time out. I was glad we all passed! I am so grateful that Fair Life Africa Foundation paid my school fees and that of my friends in the Home. In April, the three of us sat for the West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WAEC). I studied really hard, and I think I did well. A special friend of the organisation paid for us to have tutorial classes with a private tutorial organisation. I hope to be a chartered accountant one day.

I, Peter and Mark, stay in the same room – the “Green room”. Since we finished our exams, we have been staying back every day. For a while it was boring, but then Uncle Emeke and Uncle Ayo started teaching us Computer Skills, and I now know how to use Microsoft Word, Excel and other programmes. Mummy (Mrs Ashogbon) asked us to help with cleaning the Home as well, since we have time on our hands, and we have been happy to help. I am proud of how clean the Home is because I know that I worked to keep it that way. I didn’t really care before when we had a cleaner, but now I know the value of her work.

My stay at the Home has been great! Even though I have to abide by the rules, I think they are good, and I don’t get punished often because I try to be well behaved. I try to look neat at all times and keep our room clean whenever it’s my turn. In February, I actually won the good behaviour competition and I choose a friend to go with me on an outing, which was my reward. We went to the Palms Shopping Complex and we bought trainers for ourselves. I also bought two clipper sets, one for the boys at the Home and one to take when I finally leave for home. We also had ice cream and bought valentine gifts for our friends in the Home and at school. It was fun!!!

I didn’t think I would say this, but I am looking forward to going home now. Since I’ve been here, my mother, father and siblings have been over to see me many times. I visited my mom for a weekend, and also spent Easter with my whole family later. My father even came around to see me and the whole family then. We are trying to learn from our mistakes, and Aunty Ifeoma has been counselling us.

During my stay in the Home, I have come to learn how to live in peace with people and how to speak politely too. I don’t want to go back to the streets. I want a bright future for myself and my family. Thank you for supporting Fair Life Africa Foundation, so that they can help children like me to have a fair chance at life!

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James’ Story

Written with permission, by Ifeoma Keke and Ufuoma Emerhor

Hi, my name is James, I am 15 years old.  I used to think I was born on Christmas Day, but I now know that I will be 16 on the 18th of September.  I am from Ondo State in Nigeria.  I learnt about Fair Life Africa Foundation through Sis. Nishola and Bro. Ayo, when they were at Oshodi looking for boys like me to help.  I used to sleep under the bridge at Oshodi and worked as a bus conductor and carried load for people for money.

When I was much younger, my mother left me and my sister with my father.  I found out that my mother remarried, but died later on during of childbirth.  My father remarried when he could no longer manage taking care of us and working at the same time.  We had to live with my step-mother because my father was transferred to Abuja by the organization he works for.  He is a driver, while my step-mother is a petty trader.

I didn’t like living with my step-mother.  She treated me well whenever my dad was around, but whenever he left the house or travelled, she would maltreat me.  I tried complaining to my father but he never believed me, even though our neighbours also tried advising him to talk to her.  In 2005, when I was eight years old, I choose to run away from home, as things were not getting better.

My father’s relatives looked for me, but whenever I went back home with them, I would end up going back to the street.  They did not understand what I was going through or wanted, and sometimes, I do not even understand myself.  I wanted to be with my father, to have a good relationship with him just like any other child, but the distance his work created between us made me feel alone.  I saw him again for the first time since 2005, when he visited the Fair Life Africa Foundation Home in 2012.

I have been in several other Homes before, but ended up leaving for the street again.  I am glad Fair Life Africa Foundation took me in.  My stay in the Home has brought me so much happiness.  When I started living here, I felt like my freedom had been taken from me once again, and I didn’t like being punished, whenever I go against rules of the Home.  I usually protested and sometimes felt like going back to the street.  But I’m happy I didn’t give up and decided to stay.  I really want to change and make something of myself.  Though I still have some challenges and bad attitudes, I am working on them with the help of the staff and mummy (Ms Ufuoma).

I am back to school and in JSS 1. Fair Life Africa enrolled me in a secondary school nearby.  I’m supposed to be in JSS3, but could not pass the examination as it has been a long while since I stopped attending school.  I have been studying hard to meet up with school work but it has been quite challenging.  I’m not giving up, and will work harder to make sure I pass my second term exams.

My uncle has visited Fair Life Africa severally and whenever he comes around, he brings gifts for me and my friends, and encourages me to continue with the right path.  The best news is that my father has also started visiting!  He came all the way from Abuja to see me in Lekki, Lagos.  He has visited twice and brought along some clothes and shoes for me.

James in his neighbourhood
Home for the weekend

Recently, I spent the weekend with my grandpa and uncle in Lagos.  It was a very interesting weekend. At first, I was not excited about it, because I taught it was going to be boring, but it turned out well.  I chatted with my grandpa and uncle, played with my little cousin, went out with my uncle on Saturday and also helped with the chores at home too.  On Sunday I went out on bicycle ride with my uncle and six friends.  It was so much fun and very competitive too.  We had to return home early because we got news that Sis. Nishola and Bro. Ayo were around to pick me.  I was quite sad to leave them.

I know I have hurt so many people by my attitude and wasted years on the street, but I want to make it right and be a pride to my family, Fair Life Africa, those who are sponsoring this programme and the whole society.  Were it not for your care and generosity, I would not have left the street and would probably get into a lot of trouble.  Please continue to help Fair Life Africa Foundation, and you will be helping boys like me to turn over a new leaf.  Thank you for everything.

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Philip’s Story – Ghetto Child

Philip is a 16 year old boy from Ogun State, whom we first met at Kuramo Beach in 2011, when we were doing ‘Breakfast and Talk’ on Saturdays.   He was always an outspoken young man, and had lots of experience on the streets, because he had been on his own for a very long time.  He had also been at some of the other rehabilitation centres, including the Correctional Centre run by the Lagos Government, where he absconded.   On the streets, he was known as ‘Ghetto Child’.

He came to visit Fair Life Africa’s Home following our outreach programmes to Kuramo last August.  He came on his own, without invitation from us, and with no intention of staying with us.  After his first visit, he became a regular visitor at the Centre and wanted to stay.  However, at that time, he was still not ready to settle down and follow our rules.  So, one day, when he was punished for doing wrong, he decided to go and not to come back instead of enduring discipline.

We continued to see him on the streets, as we reached out to the street kids to leave the streets and seek a new life at our Home, with our help.  One day, he came to the car to talk to us.  He said he was ready to obey and serve his punishment, and wanted us to help him off the streets.  We agreed to take him with us, with the condition that he takes us to see his family first, so that we can learn more about him, and inform them that he’s with us and what we are doing for him.  He came with us that day, and has never looked back.

Philip is from a broken home, and both parents are remarried with kids.  His father is residing in Ogun state while his mother stays in Lagos state.  During a home tracing, his father’s residence was located, but his mother’s whereabouts remain unknown, even to his father.  Philip wants to return to stay with his father, and we are working on rebuilding their broken bonds.  His father first visited the Home for the Christmas Party, on the 23rd of December.  He has not been able to visit frequently due to his job as a driver, but calls the Home occasionally to speak with Philip.

Philip has been a good child at the Home, though he misbehaves occasionally.  He serves his punishment and listens to correction.  He is also proactive at resolving conflicts with his peers and among others who are quarrelling.  He tries to be a leader.  He does his chores and practices good hygiene, and keeps his space and personal items neat and tidy too.  He is doing quite well at school, and scored highly in his first trimester examinations.  His best subject is maths, and he got 100% in his quantitative reasoning test.  However, he needs to improve in English, and needs more coaching to read properly.

He was especially motivated to improve his behaviour, when he saw Derek enjoy his good behaviour reward, by taking two friends to Silverbird last year.  By the end of the year, Philip won the good behavior competition, and became eligible for a reward too.  He cheerfully asked for a trip to GET Arena, with his friend, John.  On the 12th of January 2013, he got his reward and enjoyed a lovely day out.

Good Behaviour reward
Two friends enjoy a day out
Go-Carting at GET Arena
An unusual treat

When he got there, he saw some of his old friends from the streets, who knew him as ‘Ghetto Child’.  They called out to him in envy, as they saw that he was clean and happy.  He waved at them, smiling that his life was taking a turn for the better.  At GET Arena, he went go-carting, wall climbing and played many games at the arcade too.  His favourite was table hockey, which he played about six times, and won severally.  Afterwards, Philip, John, Toju and Ufuoma enjoyed drinks while watching a game of football.

Philip is developing and maturing under our care.  He is learning to take responsibility for his actions, and to learn other ways of coping apart from running and fighting.  He dreams of being a footballer one day, and was encouraged by Joseph Yobo’s (Captain of Nigeria Super Eagles) visit to the Home on the 29th of December 2012.  Joseph encouraged all of them to study hard and complete their basic education, even as they pursue their dreams – because that is what he did.

Joseph Yobo Visits FLA
Posing with Joseph Yobo

Philip needs more people to believe in him and help him to stay on the right track.  You can support Philip by making a donation to Fair Life Africa Foundation today.

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