By Esther Ijewere-Kalajaiye
Adetoro Omoba’s story reads like a movie script. She lost her mother at the age of three and also lost her dad some years later. Living life without a mother’s care and love was painful. She would later devote her time and other resources towards caring for the motherless and less privileged in the society. Through her pain, Adetoro found purpose and established the Adetoro Omoba Cares Home (ADOCA), a non-governmental organization (NGO) geared towards the welfare of the poor, rejected, motherless, physically and mentally challenged and the less fortunate in the society. She shares her story of triumph.
Growing up without a mother
I lost my mum at the age of 3 and was raised by a guardian. He is a Christian and a very devoted man of God. While I was growing up, I realized that the paradise of every child is connected to their mothers. I felt odd among my friends when I saw all of them in church and parties with their parents. I was raised in a CAC home where we were trained as if Jesus Christ would be coming next day. While growing up, I would tell my friends, “I don’t want Jesus to come now because I want to grow old and build homes for the motherless children.” I intended to give the love I couldn’t find to these children. I never knew there was anything like an orphanage.
As God would have it, these experiences prepared me to be clear about what I would do in the future. In 2005, I lost my job with a Telecoms company I was working with. I had to look for another job in a school. While working there, sometime in May 2005, two women who lived within the vicinity of the school died. When one of the teachers came into the staff room to announce the passing away of these young women, I felt something on my inside and the passion for the less privileged overwhelmed me again. Two days later, two of the prefects came to me persuading me to help them establish a social group. As they left my office, I thought that instead of establishing a social group for them, I could actually do something focused on taking care of motherless children. I shared the idea with the prefects and they fell in love with it. I also shared the idea with the proprietor of the school. He didn’t believe me at first; he said some teachers had tried doing something similar and had failed to do so. I now had to convince him by sharing my personal story of losing my mom at a tender age. He became convinced and told me to go and start. The deal was that if I could run it for 3months, he would support me with 30,000 Naira. We started in May 2005
The initiative grew beyond the school it started from. The students started telling their mothers about it. That same year, we gave two of the senior students scholarships for their NECO exams.We also supported students who had lost their mothers. The following term, what we were given became more than what we needed, so we had to start extending our scope. I decided that even if we didn’t have the money to build the motherless homes, we could collaborate with the existing ones. I visited existing motherless homes like Little Saints Orphanages. The passion became so much that I couldn’t do something else.
One major challenge I have faced is the negative opinions of people. When we started, some people would advise some of my staff members to get another job, saying the children they take care of are aliens. People started dissociating themselves from us as if we were running a shady deal. Last year, when we celebrated our nine years anniversary, we had a challenge with transportation. My team and I were waiting for the other caregivers to bring the children to the venue. Each time they got a bus and the driver saw the children, the driver would zoom off saying they could not give them a lift. The one that eventually gave them a lift was paid double of the amount he was supposed to be paid. People have stigmatized these angels. It’s like the society doesn’t love them. It hasn’t been easy financially, spiritually and otherwise. It has been challenging. One thing that makes us happy is that God has been faithful and God has been making it easy.
Persisting against all odds
We are all humans. There are times that you will face some challenges and you will be like “God! What is happening”? But honestly, I never felt like giving up. When some of our friends come here, it is either their love for me increases or reduces. A friend once suggested the idea of me relocating to the USA because I am a single mother. She also considered the fact that I am doing all these alone without support from anywhere. I told her I can’t leave these children whom I call my angels.
Meeting the ‘Angels’
There has never been a time when we picked them on the street. All those we have met came as a result of referrals. Some of them were brought by their parents and some have been abandoned by their parents as a result of their birth defect. We have 24 of them here, but we still have more than 40 that we ought to have admitted. As a result of space constraints, we couldn’t admit them.
We need support from the government. We are under Ogun state jurisdiction, but it happens that if you have 24 children here, 19 of them are usually from Lagos. ADOCA Home is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission and also registered with the Ogun State government in Abeokuta.
Nigerians’ approach to philanthropy
It’s not as if we have all the support we need, but we need to be grateful for the little we have gotten so far. I want to say “thank you” to those individuals who have supported us so far. We could get more support through awareness in the media, much of which we are yet to receive. A man recently saw us on Facebook and sent us a message saying he would love to contribute his own bit. I never knew he was an Oba. We met him; he saw some of the things we have done and decided to give us one hectare of land to build a more comfortable apartment for the angels! It amazed us. Some of our donors are here in Nigeria and some are from the United States.
I will consider the hectare of land as the greatest reward so far. We have also received media support from Orisun TV. When we started out, we paid 15,000 Naira for a five-minute TV interview. For the past one and half years, Orisun TV has been of great assistance and we have not had to pay.
In dire need of assistance
Our 10 years anniversary is coming up very soon and one of our major constraints is transportation. We lost one of our angels, Tobi because we couldn’t get quick transportation to the hospital. He died by the time we got to the hospital. It was a sad moment for us. We need kids’ wheelchair. We also need physiotherapists who can volunteer to help these children. When we take them to churches, people don’t usually want to associate with them. On the flipside, some churches show us love whenever we take them there. People are usually surprised when they meet me.
My driving force has always been God. Everything about my own personal life has always been God. My strength comes from all the challenges I have been through.
Being a Christian
God is a great God. He has his own way of weaving our lives. When my father died it wasn’t as if he left tons of valuable property for me. My father a introduced me to God at an early age. On his death bed he told me this: “If you ever want to let go of anything, never let go of love. The moment you start letting go of love, you will start dying and become lonely.”
When you see these children as disabled it affects the way you treat them. I am using this medium to tell the people out there that we need to show love and respect these special ‘Angels.’ Majority of these children are suffering from birth defect. Before you condemn them, you should try and show them love.
Being a woman of rubies
There is a driving force within me that is bigger than me. Until you love yourself, you cannot love somebody else. The love I have for myself has made me love others. What makes me a woman of rubies is the fact that God has been helping me to make a positive impact in the lives of these ‘Angels’.
source: women of rubies