Joke silva adopts children


Victor Akande
Popular Nollywood actress, Joke Silva, has adopted two children belonging to an ailing parent.

Joke, who was a special guest at the annual camp of the Ray of Hope Foundation, a Non Governmental Organisation [NGO], which serves to fight child trafficking by taking deprived children off the streets and enrolling them into schools, took interest in the children, especially when Chioma, one of them, expressed the desire of becoming an actress in the future.

Emeka, 10, and his sister, Chioma, 6 are both indigenes of Ngwa Town in Abia State and reside at No. 172/346 Old Ojo Rd. Alakija, Lagos State. Their parents are terminally ill and have spent almost all they have looking for a cure and cannot afford to send their three children to school anymore, Emeka is described as a very intelligent boy, who, regrettably, dropped out of school about two years ago after he finished Primary 5. Chioma has the same fate as her brother; she too had not been in school in the past two years. They were referred to ROHF by Hope worldwide Nigeria, which has been providing their sick parents with drugs and stipend for the family upkeep.

Joke, as it is, will be spending a minimum of one hundred and eleven thousand, six hundred naira [N111, 600] on both children. This is outside of every other parental requirements, because, according to the Executive Director of the Foundation, Miss stella Ndubuisi, “ The sums are simple. It costs N150 a day to keep each child in school. The way we see it, if you donate N4, 650 a month or N13, 950 a quarter, you will ensure that one child remains in school. Your support would help ensure the children remain in school.”

She said a donor could adopt a child by undertaking to pay for his education and school needs, adding that such persons or organisations shall be furnished with regular updates on the progress of such a child and have even visiting opportunities for mentoring and direct personal interaction.

Miss Ndubuisi, who was speaking at the first Hope Camp for Reintegrated Former Street Children at Supreme Education Foundation Schools, Magodo GRA, Ikeja during the last Christmas holiday, added that the purpose of the Hope Camp 2005 is to bring together in one location the 35 children which her NGO has put in various schools in Lagos to share experiences and have a feel of Christmas in a setting that represents holiday for them. She said “These children share a common history of being out of school and persons rescued from the streets and given an opportunity to have formal education. We have been pleasantly surprised by another feature most of the children share: uncommon brilliance. We are happy to report that seven of the 28 children here came first in their terminal examinations while the others have remained in the top ten positions in their classes.” She said that Ray of Hope Foundation is committed to reintegrating former street children into society by enrolling them in schools, and providing scholarships for them from formative stages to the end of their school period. “We have thus far enrolled 35 children. We plan to do more, indeed, to have 100 children in school in the 2006/2007 school year. The rapid changes we have observed in the lives of these children gives us renewed hope and confidence to trudge on.”

Ndubuisi, who identified another crucial area of need for these children, pointed out that putting the children in school is only one leg of the problem. “It is clearly the most important and the one we are facing squarely. Yet, there is another problem. Most of the children were breadwinners of their homes. The income from their street trading, begging or other labour provided sustenance for their homes. The children thus return from school to homes without food. Clearly, the need is for a micro-credit scheme that would help equip these parents so they are not tempted or forced to withdraw them from schools.”

She is also calling on state assemblies to ratify the Child Rights Act which was signed into Law by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003 to ensure the rights of the Nigerian Child is protected.