My name is Abature Asha George from Obanlikwu Local Government Area in CROSS RIVER STATE−NIGERIA. I am presently a teacher in WEST AFRICAN PEOPLES INSTITUTE DIAMOND HILL CALABAR IN CROSS RIVER STATE. I am the second child, first female of five children from my parents. I have a passion for youths and I have worked for youths unofficially longer than I can remember and officially for five years. I work with kids under the umbrella the of an NGO called ‛THE CHILDREN OF FOCUS ﴾TCOF﴿′and through this organization, I have reach out to lots of youths who have been abandoned, rejected, abused, neglected, ignored, hatred, ridiculed. This I have done effectively because I have suffered rejection, abuse, shame, hatred etc. I know what a hurting heart means, I know what it means to be unloved, abandoned lonely, and ridiculed.
TCOF is made up of different parts namely ׃
﴿1 TCOF theatre for youths interested in dancing, singing, acting, and modeling.
2﴿ Focused youths for orphans and vulnerable children ﴾from large families or broken homes﴿.
3﴿ Holiday group׃ a program to keep the children occupied during the holiday.
4﴿ Young adults׃ camp for youths out of school to prepare them for life in the college.
ORIGIN OF THE DREAM
I can not really remember my childhood days, if I was loved by my parents and how everything went sour but I know my mum and I have never really gotten along. I still remember my dad showing me a little care which my mum destroyed after series of reports of every little mistake of mine as a child. So I grow up knowing only hatred, rejection and shame, as a consequence I could not relate with my classmates in school, I was always withdrawn, feeling like a no good and a nobody. I grew up wondering what my future will be like since I couldn’t mix.
In secondary school, because I did not know what life had in stock for me, I offered to do science because that was what everybody expected from me, I handled it effectively in secondary school but in the university I struggled to graduate because I did not really have a passion for what I choose﴾Physic﴿. I left school very confused because I did not want to work with the certificate I got from school. I stayed without a job for five years because I was completely confused with no one to help.
The only good thing that happened during this period of confusion is that, I had time to think about my life and all the things I have been through, the rejection, the heart break, the shame, the abuse, the emotional torture. I made up my mind to use my experience to help other children that were going through the same thing. I made up my mind to encourage them, motivate them, occupy them positively, show them a picture of their future and guide them to the future so that none will waste.
I started with about five kids and today I have two hundred orphans and vulnerable children, thirty actors in the theatre group who help me carry the message to the youths through drama. I am a very good story teller and scripts writer, so create stories on issues that affect the youths and they act it out. This surely affects the children more than just talk.
After two years of starting the NGO, I realized that the only place to meet the number of youths I really desired to meet everyday and influenced positively is the school system, so I got a teaching job in a secondary school where I teach physics, I really don’t enjoy teaching physics but I have to, in order to get access to the children and influence them positively for a great future. And so far I have seen those that were hopeless brighten up with great dreams for the future, I have seen transformation in these children, I have seen renewed confidence and strength. This gives me a lot of joy because I did not want any child to be as miserable as I was. I help them discover their potentials, raise their moral standard and help them with their academy business. This is what I have decided to do with my life; I am no longer confused as I use to be because I have a dream to make sure no child waste. I still experience hatred, abused, loneliness etc.but it doesn’t bother me anymore because every experience helps me to handle the youths more effectively.
ABOUT THE ORGANISATION NAME
THE CHILHREN OF FOCUSE ﴾TCOF﴿
NEVER SAY IMPOSSIBLE
It is an organization for children and youths and a desire to partner with parents and schools and other organizations to build their children up positively by keeping them focused and occupied until they achieve what they want to achieve.
AREAS OF FOCUS
3﴿ Talents and natural gift of the child.
1﴿ to keep the child focused and occupied until he or she achieve what he or she want to achieve.
2 To produce sound and informed great men and women in every field.
3 To make sure no child we come across waste.
MEANS OF ACHIEVEING GOALS
Seminar in schools
Workshops for parents
Interactive sessions with parents and children.
Visit to problem families
Visit to motherless baby homes and orphanages.
Visit to local communities with drama, film shows and relief materials.
Monthly drama presentation dealing with adolescence problems.
Here we visit one secondary school a week to inform about the ills in the society, how they can be affected and how to avoid such ills. In these schools we discuss issues like, cultism, sexual relations, failure, teenage pregnancies, career choices, and abuse of different kinds, rebellion and its effect.
At the end of each session, the students ask question and get responses from us. Through our evaluation, we have discovered that so many students have learnt from these sessions and have made serious decisions about their future.
MONTHLY DRAMA PRESENTATION
We discovered that it is difficult to keep youths sitting and listening for a long time. They learn more when they participate, in the teaching and learning process. Drama gives them the opportunity to experience those ills and their effect; even the youths watching can be made to sit still for even two hours for as long as the story and act is captivating.
TCOF came up with this monthly drama presentation with venue at West African People’s Institute (WAPI) Hall every second Sunday of the month from 3-7pm. The youths also showcase their talents of dancing, singing, acting, rapping, writing, etc.
We have had eight (8) presentations already with so many children/youths especially from 8-25 years in great attendance. Adults above 30 years also find time to relax and learn from the presentations, they make their contributions through advice and financial support.
Here children with emotional problems meet with the coordinator of the program for counsel and referrals made were necessary.
LONG HOLIDAY PROGRAM
During the long vacation, we organize this session to keep the children occupied because they get mischievous when they are idle. We run the program in three parts.
Issues that affect them like child abuse, failure, sexual relationship, puberty, poverty, etc are discussed.
Difficult subject areas are handled by teachers to make sure that before they return to school for the next session, they are well prepared to handle the pressures of the new session.
3. TALENTS/NATURAL GIFT HUNT
We believe that every child has a gift from God so we use this time to help them discover their gifts. We also try to strike a balance between their talents and academic work. This is because parents do not encourage the use of their talents for fear that it will affect the child’s academic performance. We also inform the parents of our activities and the need for these children to develop their talents. We usually end the program with picnic/excursion and a closing day ceremony with lots of exciting activities for the children to enjoy. The children always ask us of when and where the next long holiday program will take place. That shows how effective the program is.
CAMP FOR AGES 14-25 YEARS
The students in their last year of secondary education kept pressing us to come up with program for them, since most of our activities were focused on secondary school students, except the monthly drama presentation. After some consultations, TCOF introduced the camp for ages 14-25 years so that after secondary school they can still have opportunity to learn from TCOF every year. Here we will keep them for a week, watch them closely, discover their peculiar problems and help them out of those situations.
We will also train them to be self-reliant by teaching them hat making, sewing, cooking, baking, singing, dancing, molding, painting, acting and many other things.
These activities may not take place at the same time; we will take up the activities as we acquire the required materials and get the resource persons to teach the children.
About orphans and vulnerable children.
The present state of the child is the parent and our responsibility, the future is the child’s responsibility.
To produce a million phenomenally successful men and women.
As we work with these youths, we also come up with different projects that will impart the youths tremendously. So far, we have seen results and we know that nothing will stop us as we see our dreams come true concerning the youths.
One of my students Blessing Ene kept talking about TIG, I did not really understand, I though it was just about computer and information technology until a colleague of mine sat me down and explained in details to me, after the explanation he took me to the cybercafé and register me with TIG. He told me gives youths the opportunity to show case their talents and become the best they can be. I am really excited about this, and pray that it be a great opportunity for my youths to discover themselves and be useful to their generation.
I cannot stop until I mention the Almighty God who has been the major player in my life, he gave me the vision for the youths of my generation, he gave me the grace to handle all my hurts and pains and today I can stand up strong and help other youths. He has given me wonderful people who have looked beyond my weakness and work with me to make this dream a reality, one of such is the person who typed and posted this TIG website.
ORPHANS AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN GROUP
This aspect of the project came as a response to the needs of orphans, children from large families, from broken homes, from polygamous and other problem families. I noticed a set of students who kept to themselves, troublesome; perform poorly in examination, very stubborn. I thought of various ways to get but I could not find, to my greatest surprised as I raise this group from the school, I noticed almost all of them fell within the group, so I concluded their attitude was as a result of things they were passing through everyday of their lives. I have been meeting with them once in a week to encourage them, motivate them, show them a picture of their future, feed them sometimes and pay their school fees when I could. I teach them not to react negatively to situations they find themselves but to draw strength from the situation, face life with everything inside of them for a better tomorrow, I know that with time as I get help from individuals and other organization I will be able to accommodate those that needs accommodation, feed more and train more in schools to whatever level they want to go.
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