Speech by ASOHON President 2017

WELCOME ADDRESS BY THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATION OF ORPHANAGES AND HOMES OPERATORS IN NIGERIA, (ASOHON), REV. MRS DELE GEORGE, AT ITS 2017 CONFERENCE HELD 24TH JUNE, 2017 AT ASO ROCK VILLA

 

(1) Your Excellency, Pastor Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, wife of the Acting - President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, founder of Women’s Helping Hands Initiative and the Grand Patron of Orphanages and Homes Operators in Nigeria, ASOHON.

(2)           The Executive members of Association of Orphanages and Homes Operators in Nigeria   

(3)           Zonal and State coordinators of Orphanages and Homes Operators in Nigeria

(4)           Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

I bring you warm greetings from all the members of the Association of Orphanages and Homes Operators in Nigeria who are not here today.  They all would have loved to be here. 

 

Your Excellency, we all salute your courage and fortitude as a patriot, a visionary   and an outstanding Grand Patron of ASOHON.

 I hereby express the gratitude of the National executive members and all coordinators present for your hospitality today.  We are all very comfortable and really delighted to be here. Thank you so much.

 

Since 2009 as members of ASOHON, we have endeavored to project our ideologies and gain recognition in our various communities. ASOHON set out to be seen as an embodiment of social work coaction for the advancement and development of our children who are the embodiment of vulnerability which has exposed them to a fragmented system of social care.  It   is time to realize that institutions involved with OVC need an overall and universally acceptable operational policies and procedures. Yes, Nigeria has the Child Rights Act of 2007 but how many know what it entails? This is a country where everyone does what is right in their own eyes when it comes to OVC.  (For example, Felicia court case).

 

All operators in the country should unite to ensure uniformity of practices and end the fragmentation of service delivery systems to OVC.

ASOHON is not in competition with any other association in the country, we are   the first of such an association to be registered by Corporate Affairs Commission and we are spreading our tentacles to every state in

the country to enhance effectiveness and instigate positive change in social services.

 

 I must say that this gathering today is a confirmation that our efforts have not been in vain.  I can boast in God that we are rising higher and stronger. The promotion of integrity, accountability, excellence and harmony amongst us is still tops in our agenda.  We are committed to raising the level of trust between us and our donors, between us and the general public, especially between us and all arms of government.  We are asking for Federal Government’s encouragement and support. We are relying partly on our Grand Patron to help us in this quest.

 

We are here to buttress the fact that ASOHON is ready to assist federal, state and local governments to improve and revolutionize the social welfare system to benefit in greater measures the lives of our OVC.  We want to chart a new cause for social works and brainstorm on actionable solutions to challenges confronting our homes and orphanages. 

 

Our objectives are very clear and my appeal to us is to remain focus, avoiding deviation from our original purpose.

 

(1)     TO IMPROVE THE EFFICIENCY OF ORPHANAGES AND HOMES IN  NIGERIA

Most operators are people of deep compassion, zealous to love and willing to impact the lives of OVC, but most lack the knowledge and tools to create an optimal environment for them.  An array of evidence has emerged on the damaging effects of early institutional care on the psychological, social and emotional development of children raised in orphanages.  These studies have shown that they develop slower than children raised in family settings. However, with consistent and well-funded training, workshops and seminars, we will reverse the negative effects of institutionalization.  To improve efficiency in orphanages, social care providers need training. Training needs funding.

 

(2) TO ENHANCE THE REPUTATION AND IMAGES OF ORPHANAGES AND HOMES

This cannot be achieved by running some kind of secret homes. We must be open to enquiries and visitations at any time. 

To repair our image, accountability is the main key. For example, being specific about donations, issuing receipts, sending appreciation letters and providing annual reports will go a long way to increase our trustworthiness.

 

Beggarly attitude to fund raising, sending people to bus stations or parks to ask for money is degrading to the God who sent you and who is able to supply your needs. Design a good strategy. I have a write-up in this current magazine as a guide to developing feasible strategies.

Take good care of our caregivers/ Nannies

 

I want to particularly thank our Lagos State chapter of ASOHON for the improved relationship with the Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Lagos State. I remember just before ASOHON was formed, certain leader in our community said all orphanage operators are 419ners.  To prove him wrong, Lagos State ASOHON got an award for excellence from the Ministry in 2014.

 

I want to also thank our task force in South East led by Chief Godson Akpulonu for the efforts towards curbing the multiplication of fake orphanages and child traffickers. This was achieved as a result of their co-operation with the law enforcement agencies in South East.  Their efforts yielded outstanding results and boosted the morale of ASOHON in the South East.

 

On a sad note, however, I want to officially announce the departure to glory at the ripe age of 84 of one of our own, Prince Sidney Mordi, the Delta State coordinator. May his soul rest in peace. He was the very first coordinator that was appointed and he worked very hard to increase the membership of ASOHON in Delta State. He was a great father to the fatherless. We will surely miss him.

 

To help our image ASOHON NATIONAL has a lot of dreams.

We want to be relevant and present in all the states in Nigeria

We want to have a national secretariat as well as state secretariats

We want to have an annual magazine to be distributed nationwide

We want to get annual subvention from our federal and state governments to implement our goals.

 

(3) TO PROMOTE AWARENESS OF AND RESPECT FOR LAWS RELATING TO THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN

 

Our code of ethical conduct is available for this. We cannot afford to make mistakes. Children are God’s heritage deserving of protection, freedom from abuse and any form of oppression.

 

 

(4) TO UNITE AGAINST THE VIOLATION OF THE CHILD RIGHTS  LAW

 

Every orphanage and home should have the Child Rights Act.  There can be no excuse.

 

(5) TO PROMOTE AND ENCOURAGE A UNITED APPROACH IN THE CARE OF VULNERABLE CHILDREN

 

Our unity is vital to our success. To succeed we must be seen as one undivided association pursuing a common goal, not individual agenda. 

 

In conclusion, we need government and private support to finance some of our projects. To search out rural orphanages to be equipped and upgraded, ASOHON needs technical and material support.  We need encouragement and motivation.  We need a forum with federal and state governments for regular consultations and strategic planning which in the long run will eradicate mistrust and suspicion between us.

 

Truly, without operators the future of OVC will be bleak and hopeless but today we can say with the existence of ASOHON and with Her Excellency, Pastor Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo as our Grand Patron,  and above all, with almighty God on our side,  we declare that THERE IS HOPE  FOR ORPHANS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN!

 

 I want to urge each and every one of us not just to limit yourself to the label of having attended this necessary meeting but to go beyond that level to being a participant and an agent in the new chapter of changing the way we treat our children who are homeless, parentless, desperate, and are yearning for a family. Each and every one of us present today is not here by chance but because there is a calling that we have answered to and a duty we owe our nation and our children to perform.

 

Grace and Peace to You all!