The Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE), an NGO that works with vulnerable children and young people in impoverished communities across Nigeria, celebrated its fifth anniversary recently in Lagos, and hosted a British celebrity.
Mr. Chris Packham, a well-known presenter on the BBC’s nature series, ‘Spring Watch’, ‘Winter Watch’ and ‘Autumn Watch’ on BBC, who was in Makoko, fishing community in Lagos shooting a documentary, was hosted by CEE-HOPE.
The event, which drew about 300 school children, including children from Makoko Dream School and The Diaspora Nursery and Primary School and others, featured traditional Egun and Ilaje songs and dance. The song displays were carried out by CEE-HOPE’s girl empowerment club, the Girls-Go-for-Greatness (Triple G) club. Mr. Packham and his team also visited CEE-HOPE’s two after-school educational centres sited at Ori-Oke community at the entrance into Makoko and Ago-Egun community. The crew, with their Nigerian guides, CEE-HOPE’s team, volunteers and some of the children, especially girls, rode in several boats on the water amidst a dancing carnival of the ‘Triple G’ children, and beneficiaries of CEE-HOPE’s several interventions in the last five years.
At the end of the celebration, Packham, 58, an author and a vegetarian and a wild life expert whose shows have won local and international awards and acclaim, addressed the enthusiastic children, encouraging them to stick to their dreams so as to be great in life.
Betty Abah, CEE-HOPE’s founder and Executive Director, expressed gratitude for supporters who have made CEE-HOPE’s vision of ‘engaging with and being a voice for some of Nigeria’s most at-risk children and young people especially girls, an exciting journey in the last five years’. ‘Without these support of God-sent individuals and a few originations, we won’t be here. We hope to be here for the next 100 years and more and we will continue counting on your support. Thank you’, she said.
Chief Claudius Adewale Akintimehin, a local chief in Makoko, was full of praises for the organization. ‘Since CEE-HOPE came to our community, there have been a lot of positive changes and the children are very happy. If we can’t give back anything, our prayers alone will make CEE-HOPE and Mummy Betty to keep going places. We pray that God send CEE-HOPE more help and as they keep giving to our children, they will continue growing. I want CEE-HOPE to continue with that generous spirit and God will continue to be with them’, he said.
Titilope Ajimuda, 19, a new student of the Ondo State University, and one of CEE-HOPE’s beneficiaries since age 15, said the NGO has had tremendous impacts on her. ‘CEE-HOPE has affected my life in many ways, in encouraging me to go to school, and also in terms of mentorship and skills empowerment. That has made me to be self-dependent and not depend on men to survive. Also, we were taught how to avoid rape, how to be confident and to believe in ourselves’.
CEE-HOPE, started in 2013 by Abah, a journalist, author and activist, and whose major area of operation is in Makoko, West Africa’s largest slum settlement, also has beneficiaries across Ogun, Benue, Plateau and other states and has been involved extensively in relief response and rehabilitating for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), especially children affected by the Boko Haram and herdsmen killings across several states.
As part of its child’s right advocacy, CEE-HOPE has also been involved in several children’s rights campaign especially child sexual abuse including the #JusticeForOchanya, Ese Eruru, #BringBackOurGirls among several others.