Category Archives: Case Studies

Charles 2

Two Years and Counting…

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More than two years ago, Charles was rescued from the streets of Lagos by Fair Life Africa Foundation.  We had spotted him at Kuramo Beach where he hung out with others like himself, who had ran away from home for various reasons.  He had ran away after succumbing to the influence of mischievious boys in his neighbourhood.  However, he realised his mistake too late, and for fear of being beaten by his father, he had remained on the street.

Charles was one of the older boys at the Home.  At the time, he was 16 years old.  He was not the best behaved, either, as he was quite troublesome and overly playful.  We were not sure whether he would see the programme through, as he appeared uncommitted.  Through counsel, discipline and empowerment, he was encouraged to change his ways.  By the end of his three month stay, Charles, like the rest of the children with him, was eager to return home to his family, who had been visiting the Home and were also excited about his return.

In July 2012, Charles went back home to live with his family in a small town in Lagos.  His family depended on his step-mother’s business, which had been neglected for lack of funds after a period of illness.  Fair Life Africa gave the family a financial boost, so that the business could be restarted.  Two years on, the business is still going strong with the small investment we had made in 2012!

Charles also was keen to return to school.  At his age, he should have been at senior secondary level, but because he had dropped out of school at Junior level, without completing his final exams, he would have had to start again at the beginning if he went to public school!  However, private schools were happy to take him at JSS2, which was a year’s advantage.  Fair Life Africa decided to make the additional investment of paying for his private school education, so that he can gain back years lost, and also be assured of a decent education.

Last August, the family had to move from their long-term accommodatiom at the notice of the landlord, and were stuck financially.  In Nigeria, landlords demand a minimum of a year’s rent upfront, and tenants also have to pay agency and agreement fees, which make relocation challenging for many.  Fair Life Africa assisted the family to make this move, by helping them to pay these fees so that they could find a new abode, near enough to Charles’ school and his mother’s business.

Now, July 2014, Charles has finally completed his Junior Secondary education, and done his Junior WAEC (West African Examinations Council) Exams, with the support of Fair Life Africa and our partners.  He is now awaiting his results and transfer into Senior Secondary School.

This month marks two years that Charles has been at home, and we are so proud of him.  He really has come a long way from the boy we first met at Kuramo Beach, and the one who resided in the Home.  Unlike some of the others we worked with, he has shown himself to be committed to rehabilitation, and ready to work for the life he deserves.  We keep hearing good reports from his family about how he is doing at home.  Thanks so much for enabling us to make this difference in his life.

Charles would very much like to continue his secondary education privately, because the public school system is quite problematic in Nigeria.  We are looking for a sponsor who will take on the noble duty of supporting Charles through his final three years of secondary school.  We would love to hear from you, if there’s any way you can assist.  Thank you!

There are still other boys who are celebrating one year and two years at home this month!  We are using the rare opportunity of GlobalGiving Bonus Day to raise additional funding, so that we can encourage these children to stay #home4good!  Today, from 9am(EST)/2pm (WAT), donations raised on our project page at www.goto.gg/9103 will be matched by 40%!  Please help us to maximise the opportunity by making your own contribution and encouraging your friends and family to support too.  Thanks and God bless you as you give.

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Gbenga’s Easter Story

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Gbenga’s name has been changed for confidentiality.

The atmosphere at Gbenga’s house was different around Easter time last year. It was his second home visit, after a lengthy stay on the streets. Fair Life Africa Foundation took him home for a long week with his family, as we facilitated his reconciliation with his parents and siblings.

His stay at home was short and sweet, and all were hopeful for a strong reconciliation. His mother anticipated his final return home in July, after his completion of our academic year programme. She was pleased to learn that he was one of our best behaved boys at the FLA Home. Gbenga was also happy to be with his siblings again, and looked forward to returning home with Fair Life Africa’s support.

However, a year down, the atmosphere at Gbenga’s home was not so pleasant. The novelty of his return had wore off, and every family member had to come to grips with the reality that “we are all human and different and just need to get along!”

Every home has its challenges, and the saying that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is true for all. The reality is that we all must truly desire peace, and be ready to make some sacrifices to get along with our loved ones, because it won’t be happy times all the time.

Gbenga and his mother have their issues just like any other family. Our visit in April, just before Easter, to resolve a major conflict at home was not the first of its kind. It appeared that Gbenga was seeking to prove his maturity prematurely, while his mother had been holding on to some resentment over his past mistakes. It appeared that forgiveness and understanding had no place in their home. We were sad that they were throwing away the second chance they had been given by being disagreeable with each other.

However, around Easter time, something magical happened. Our visit, which seemed fruitless at the time, turned out to have sown some good seed in their hearts. We got a call from Gbenga’s mother apologising for how they have been behaving, and informing us that they had both spoken and are working at being more understanding of each other.

Gbenga also got in touch to apologise for his behaviour and assure us that he is still committed to staying home, and wanted us to continue to support him and his family in this.

Our Easter celebration visit to Gbenga’s home was our last visit of the season, as we had visited the other reconciled children earlier in the month. We were pleased to find the Easter spirit present at this visit. Gbenga and mother were much happier and considerate of each other. We are sure that their expectations of each other are more realistic, and that though more challenges will arise, they will choose forgiveness and understanding to rise above them.

Gbenga’s story shows us that life is no fairy tale, and that happiness is a choice we all must make. If we are not ready to extend grace to others, so that we can live peacefully among them, we do ourselves a great injustice.

We are so glad for Gbenga and his mother, that they have learned this lesson. Unfortunately, we can never control the outcome in the lives of the children who we reconcile with their families. There are so many factors that may take them from the road of happiness to that of breakdown again. But we are always following up on them with phone calls and visits, to ensure that everyone is committed to the objectives of reconciliation, peace being paramount.

Fair Life Africa also lends support to reconciled families, by sponsoring children’s education or vocational training, and helping where necessary with financial support for the family business or accommodation needs in times of crisis. Your support enables us to go the extra mile, so that our persistent support will result in more children leaving the streets and staying off the streets!

Thanks so much for your support. We hope that the Easter Spirit, of new hope and forgiveness, will abide with your family all year long!

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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