Pastor, Author and Singer, Oche Okeson Onuh launches ‘Think Child First’, a Non-Governmental Organization that seeks to promote the interest of the African Child in all spheres.
Pastor Onuh launches the NGO on the occasion of his 43rdbirthday with an intention to give back to the society and address certain challenges that children are exposed to.
While speaking about the reason for birthing the idea, Onuh explained that “growing up as a child in a semi-slum community was difficult and many of my friends died of ailments that could have been prevented, this made me believe Think Child First would help to protect children and address some of the menace they face.”
Highlighting the proposed activities of TCFAF, Onuh buttressed that “we will be visiting schools to have seminars with teachers, care givers and school authorities on how best to train children. Also, we will go to hospitals to meet health care practitioners and enlighten them on how best to take care of children even before they are born.
“We also understand that parents are the first point of contact with children, so we will carry out sensitization programs in various communities to ensure parents think and consider the interests of their children.”
Onuh added that, ‘Think Child First Africa Foundation would help to protect children from vulnerability and also scholarship to out-of-school children with the purpose of reducing children on the streets.”
For her part, Betty Abah, Founder and Executive Director of CEE-HOPE Nigeria, an NGO that works on the rights and protection of children in slum communities commended the initiative adding that the need to address children related issues in the country cannot be overemphasized.
Abah called on NGOs to work together to address the growing challenges children are exposed to on a daily basis. She added that one of the reasons children are abused is because of the failure of law enforcement agencies. “The security agencies have failed us, people keep committing crimes against children because they know they can always get away with it. it’s something we really need to talk about and address as NGO owners.”
Speaking on the role of the government in the protection of the right of a child, Abah commended the Lagos State government for enacting Policies and Acts but noted that most of the policies are not being implemented. Betty called on the Lagos State government to establish a welfare unit which would cater for the needs of children in the state. “Lagos has no child welfare unit and Lagos has the highest Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, this goes to show that children are not our priority. Setting up a welfare unit for children would go a long way to address challenges children are faced with.”
Speaking on “Understanding the right of a child”, Folake Ogunnaike, a legal practitioner said the African culture has made parents believe their children do not have any right stressing that sustaining this archaic trend would only create a dysfunctional society.
“Culturally, some people would say children have no right, they don’t have the right to talk or contribute to issues, express themselves, right to loved and cared for. These are no longer relevant, we need to understand that our children have the right to protection because they are vulnerable; we need to converse with them. We shouldn’t shut a child down, if not, we would create a dysfunctional family without knowing. Every child has a right and that right should be protected,” Ogunnaike quipped.
The launch also witnessed the cutting of the cake for the 43rd birthday of Pastor Oche Okeson Onuh.