Nigeria - A place where children no longer have to grow up alone
YOUTH INCLUSION & EDUCATION – COMMITTED TO EMPOWERING SOCIALLY AT-RISK YOUNG PEOPLE
Total has worked with the NGO SOS Children’s Villages in Nigeria for more than a decade, providing vulnerable young people with a home, a sound education and a place in society.
Chibuzor was 13 years old when he arrived in Isolo, one of the NGO’s villages, at the end of 2003. “After my parents died, I lived on the streets in Ijegun, a shantytown in Lagos where I grew up, going from house to house looking for temporary accommodation or food, with my brothers and sisters,” he says. “We were destitute, and SOS Villages saved us. The village restored what had been snatched from me - a new, happy life, in a home, with a family - and much more besides: a determination to look out for myself and safeguard my future in a privileged environment.” Chibuzor is one of many young people cared for by SOS Villages sponsored by Total in Nigeria.
Everyday support and education
The NGO provides homes for 460 children who have been orphaned or left to fend for themselves. They are placed with surrogate families in four Nigerian villages in Isolo (Lagos state), Gwagwalada (Abuja), Jos (Plateau) and Owu-Ijebu (Ogun). The organization also runs a program called Family Strengthening Program for 3,500 other young people. The initiative assists families who find it hard to take care of their children, helping ensure they are not abandoned.
“Total Nigeria has supported our work since September 2010, by providing financial assistance every year to a family house in each of our four villages,” explains Eghosa Erhumwunse, who has been the NGO’s national director in Nigeria for the past eight years. This assistance is used to buy food and clothes for 40 children, to pay for medical care, and to organize social activities. It also covers school fees throughout the children’s education. “Over the years, we have built up a relationship of trust with Total,” he says. “Now and again, we need essential items, like food or water, and we know we can rely on their support. They are deeply committed over the long term and that’s what make their assistance unique.”
We provide support at each stage of a child’s life, and then make sure they are included in society and the workplace.
Empowering young people
SOS Children’s Villages in Nigeria does more than find accommodation for vulnerable children. “Since 1973, we have provided support at each stage of a child’s life, and we make sure they are included in society and the workplace,” says Eghosa Erhumwunse. “They all get an education and appropriate training so they are included in society, can live independently, and succeed just like any other young person.”
Every year, the schools set up by the NGO in Nigeria educate more than one thousand children, from pre-school to primary. “SOS Children’s Villages believes education is an essential tool,” says Chibuzor. “The head of the village is never tired of telling us to seize the opportunity that had been given to us. Without the NGO I would probably have dropped out of school, or worse, because I thought my life was doomed from the start. The organization’s teams restored my faith in the future by supporting me in each area of my life. They develop children’s personal values, empower them and give them confidence. They transformed my life, by convincing me that my dreams could come true. I was able to go back to school, attend the secondary school of my choice, and study law at Igbinedion university in Okada, in the state of Edo. Seeing people who really believed in what they are doing, selflessly devoting themselves to vulnerable children, made me determined to improve the world, which is why I became a lawyer. Without their psychological and financial support, I would never have been able to make it in the Nigerian system, which is competitive. I will always be grateful to SOS and proud to have been one of their children.”
Total Nigeria promotes the empowerment and inclusion of these young people through its Mentor-a-Child-Program. Members of staff mentor young people from the sponsored houses every year. These voluntary mentors give up their time to supervise their education and promote their personal development and inclusion in society. They guide and motivate their mentees by sharing their own professional or personal experiences with them, during quarterly meetings and at special events, such as end-of-year parties organized with the children of staff members.
The organization’s teams helped restore my faith in the future, by supporting me in each aspect of my life. They allow children to develop essential personal values, empower them and give them confidence in themselves.
A mentorship to support young people
“I developed a supportive relationship with my mentee from the Isolo children’s village,” explains Adedoyin Akinrinade, a procurement analyst at Total Nigeria. “She listens to my advice and I hope I’m having a positive influence on her development."
Total also promotes the social and professional inclusion of young people by offering students traineeships and jobs during the school holidays. They include three secondary school students who did vacation jobs at our site in Abuja. “The young people we support run a high risk of being excluded socially,” explains Eghosa Erhumwunse. “We launched the YouthCan! program in 2018 to address this situation. The initiative aims to improve their employment prospects by building their skills based on careers guidance, coaching and traineeships. Total Nigeria is involved in this approach and may combine it with the action we are already taking together, in order to become a national leader in the field.”
Total Côte d’Ivoire, a reliable partner since 2012
Abobo near Abidjan, the first village opened by the NGO SOS Children Villages, which was set up in Africa in 1971, is home to more than 138 young people, who no longer enjoy parental protection, either because their parents have died or are sick, or because they have been abandoned, for example. This village has a medical center and a primary school which is open to neighboring families, of whom 300 benefit from the NGO’s Family Strengthening Program scheme. Total Côte d’Ivoire has supported Abobo’s activities since 2012. Its assistance helps provide food, medical attention and an education for some one hundred children every year. It has also enabled ten family houses to acquire school equipment, such as chairs, tables, boards, etc. This assistance also contributes to the development of an inclusive scheme that helps young people find a training course or job. “Our assistance is based on a long-term support model, and we have significant requirements because we help some 10,000 direct and indirect beneficiaries,” says Koala Oumarou, national director of SOS Children Villages Ivory Coast.
- 5 million orphaned or vulnerable children in Nigeria
- 40 children sponsored by Total since 2010
- 4 family houses sponsored by Total