Young pupils of Community Primary School Rumuoparali near Choba in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State would hardly forget Friday June 18th in their lives.
A non-governmental organisation labeled Sycamore Foundation had on that day distributed some books, pencils and erasers to them. The pupils numbering about 150 sang and danced with their new writings.
However, immediately children in the community got wind of the news, the school premises got filled with children struggling to their share of the writing materials.
Most of them had been out of school that day. Some of them barefooted and clad in worn clothings had abandoned their parents in the farms. Those who were harking articles dropped them on the ground. The entire school premises was thrown into an atmosphere of jubilation.
President of the foundation, Lady Pat Ogbuafor who had led a team of the charity based orgnaisation was almost moved to tears over the excitement. The teachers were also shocked over the pupils response.
Lady Ogbuafor who spoke after the donation ceremony was conducted said, “my heart goes after those children who are in the streets or in the farm and I really feel had about it.”
This was not the first time her group had visited schools distributing writing materials. They had done the same at St. Paul’s Primary School, Diobu and Community School at Obiariku in Delta State.
According to Ogbuafor, “there are so many children in our communities that needs our help so it’s pathetic when you see them suffering in the midst of plenty.”
The headmaster of the school, Mr Brown Christopher said he was overwhelmed with the gesture and the response the children had equally demonstrated,” a lot of these children find it difficult to buy books,” he observed.
Community Primary School Rumuoparali was established since 1977 and the school’s population had been fluctuating with the sprouting of private schools.
Though currently the pupils are leaving in a worn and decrepit building, Mr. Christopher while chatting with reporters pointed few metres across the school’s football field where a new model primary school was under construction courtesy of the Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi.
In the next few months, the pupils would enjoy the cozy classrooms, they would face the cold and the heat of the weather any longer. Their seats would no longer be carried from home; they would seat on well furniture desks.
Commending Sycamore Foundation for their gesture, Mr. Christopher called on other NGOs to emulate the group,” a lot of children need help,” he said, “and the only way they can be assisted is for people to embark in this kind of activities.
The school head called on the pupils to make good use of the books. He advised them to be of good behaviour as well, so that they can contribute positively to the society.
Some of the pupils spoke of their joy over t heir new writing materials. Chioma Wosu, a basic six pupil said “am happy because I would use the exercise books to write my Maths and English notes.”
Ifeoma Abbe in basic five stated that she doesn’t have note book for her English lessons hence the new exercise books would be used for that. She commended the foundation for the donation adding that, “when I get home I will show it to my parents.”
Another pupil from basic four, Fiona Chukwunyere promised to put the exercise books into good use. She advised her fellow pupils to avoid using the writing materials for play.
When she was asked why the foundation chose to embark on such project Lady Ogbuafor said her group was moved by the plight of indigent children.
“The truth of the matter is that a lot of us went through a similar condition, but today we have gotten family and our children are in good schools. I really fed bad when I see children going through these ordeals to get good education.”
On her source of funding, she disclosed that the whole project was based on personal tasks,” “our member raise funds from their salaries and that’s why we need more assistance from government and public spirited individuals.”
She called on rich parents to reach out to the poor ones, “when they do that they would go home and “sleep well.”
The Sycamore Foundation observed that though the church was also trying to engage in charity work but a lot of them are not doing well. She argued that the church has a lot to do in their regard.
For the church to make impact in the society, Lady Ogbuafor suggested that the rural areas should be given attention. “I’m worried because most of the new churches and charity organizations are urban based. They should spread to the rural arrears, I think that is where they need us.”
Aside distributing books and other writing materials, she revealed that her NGO plans to build libraries to enhance learning in schools, “we believe that these down trodden children when educated will also help other children which will bring about triple effects of positive charge in our society.”
Following success recorded so far by the group Lady Ogbuafor expressed appreciation to the State Commissioner for Information and Communications Mrs Ibim Seminitari, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Mina Benibo, including Deputy Director Ministry of Justice Mrs. Caroline Wali.
The Sycamore Foundation leader also lauded members of the group who contribute their meager salaries to drive activities of the foundation, adding, “even our husbands have shown us wonderful support without which we wouldn’t have had the time to do what we are doing.”