Why parents should be more approachable -Dame Wuraolami Williams

Dame Wuraolami Williams is the founder of Impact and Inspire Wuraolami Foundation, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that focuses on the less privileged. In this interview by BOLA BADMUS, the London-based philanthropist tells what motivated her to award scholarships up to university level to some students at the Social Correctional Center for Girls in Idi-Araba, Mushin, Lagos. fragments:

What motivated you to do projects like this that address the needs of the less privileged in society?

The suffering I went through in life… it was a very bad experience. I went through a lot growing up and it came to a stage in my life where I almost gave up. I prayed to God that if he would give me a second chance, I would take care of the youth and be a good example, a good role model for them, and that I would take pleasure in smiling myself. to conjure people’s faces.

You said that the students found it difficult to get along and that was one of the reasons you organized a lecture for them. What do you think could be the reason?

We actually organized the lecture for the less fortunate. Like I said, it was a case of inequality. We wanted to give them that sense of belonging. We wanted to show that if both the minority and the majority are given the same opportunity, they can all do better. We hosted the event at the Sheraton; I deliberately chose that location to show them that there is nothing and to give them the feeling of belonging. Yes, it cost us a lot, but we didn’t mind. We invited professionals from the diaspora; the kids literally studied them and that’s how we realized 75-80 percent of them weren’t sure. I think it was the first time they went somewhere like that. It was so shocking; they lacked a sense of belonging and trust. So we have now evaluated everything and considered doing a permanent evaluation. We got together and agreed that it was better for us to increase their confidence and self-awareness and give them reassurance that this place they are now is not the end of their lives. At the end of the event, they can be like normal youngsters.

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During the event, a salon was unveiled by the wife of the governor of Lagos state, how much did it cost to install?

We can only say that it has cost a lot of money to put that in place.

Who are the beneficiaries of the 14 scholarships you have given?

During the event, we realized that we have brilliant students among them who are exceptional. Instead of limiting them, we agreed in the board of Impact and Inspire Initiative that we can take them to the other side; this is so that they know that the life they are living now is not the end. We host what we call ‘Part of the Empire’ where we would adopt them and give them the love that most of them lack in their individual families. We want to show them unconditional love and maybe we can take them abroad from there. Because we are an international initiative, these children can benefit from the NGO.

This is just girls, what about guys?

We work with both boys and girls. There was a program on February 14 last year for those at the Boys Correctional Center. The guys were also at the event which also took place at Sheraton Hotels. So we worked together. To be honest, we actually had plans for both girls and boys, but in general I think the girls centers were more active, so we changed the whole plan. Maybe we can move to the Boys Correctional Center in December.

What is the current population of beneficiaries?

The girls are 60 because we merged them with another house, while the boys are over 100.

Do you think you are making progress when you assess the impact of the NGO on the student?

To be honest, yes, we are reaching our goal. It’s not just about me, but my team and I are really reaching our goal. On the first Saturday of November we have another fantastic program for them. We are trying to convert the main center into a computer lab so that students can access their individual computers. If we don’t achieve our goal, we are not encouraged to do more. I remember the third day of this summer lecture, some of the students collapsed, they cried. They admitted that they had never seen anything like it before. Parents just dump their kids in the correctional house. When they come by, we accompany them, now they feel free to come to the penitentiary to look after their children. Look at the parents who used to be even ashamed of their children and therefore dumped them here, now they are coming back. This is an achievement for us. For us it is an achievement that their parents come to the penitentiary to celebrate with them. We are really very happy.

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How did we as a country get to this stage?

Okay, it’s a very simple analogy. What we have to do is for individuals to take responsibility. I have said that we know that our governments are not doing quite right, there is always a need for change for our government. We cannot leave everything to them. I am an individual, I have no connection in the governor’s office. I came from London, I challenge them. I go online, I did research about Nigeria and I got all this information. So if individuals can do this, touch one, reach one, we will have a better Nigeria. We need to stop being selfish, where one person wants the whole world, forgetting that there is always a limit to what they can have in life. So if we can share this with our neighbors, with our family, and be selfless, we will have a better Nigeria that way.

I left my children there, I left my family and I left everything in London to get here. This is my second time now in this year. The other time I came I had to change my ticket twice to meet the first lady of Lagos state, and it cost me a lot of money to do that, but I never saw her. That didn’t make me disappointed or discouraged and I left. And I came back again because I’m not doing it for any political gain, but to support the good work of the state government.

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How do you raise funds to do all these things, do you get money from other organizations or do you just spend your income on the projects?

That’s a deep question because I’m an international person and because of my profession there, which I don’t want to talk about, we’re not getting any money from the government for a while. As I said, Impact and Inspire is an international initiative and I believe this answers it all.

What message do you have for parents in this regard?

My message to parents is that all parents should keep it simple. I dare say that our parents need to be more considerate, they need to be approachable. If you look critically at the Nigerian culture, it is too hard for these children. Most children do not have a good relationship with their parents. You see most of our fathers, at home they are lions and at home are mothers lionesses. For example, if I take myself, my kids can say ‘oh! Honey, how are you?’ ‘How are you?’ “Mom, I saw something…” That shouldn’t deprive them of parental care. They should be kinder, humble and forgiving towards their children no matter the situation. I saw a child of about 11 years old in the correctional center and I cried. I cried… 11 year old? What is she doing here, where are the parents? I don’t judge anyone. So I want all of our parents to be more approachable, kind, and forgiving. If God can forgive us, we shouldn’t find it difficult to forgive and love our children. That will change a lot in our families.

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