Christmas: Orphanages lament low gifts

Olufemi Atoyebi, Samuel Awoyinfa, Success Nwogu, Jesusegun Alagbe, Enyioha Opara, Peter Dada and Gibson Achonu
Orphanages across the country have said that the gifts they received during this Christmas season are lower compared to previous years.
Pointing at the economic recession in the country as responsible for this, they expressed worry that poor donations to their homes could lead to hunger among children.
The Administrator, Hope Orphanage in Ilorin, Kwara State, Mrs. Grace Yeye, told Saturday PUNCH that the volume of gifts to the foundation had reduced by 30 per cent in the last one year.
Yeye said that 2016 had been a difficult year for the home.
She said, “Gifts donated to our home have reduced by about 30 per cent in the past one year and the reduction is because of economic recession.
“2016 has been a very difficult year. Nigerians should help us by donating more gifts. We do not have enough money again to cater for the children.”
The Ondo State Children’s Home was also affected as the volume of gifts to the home has dropped in the past one year.
A civil servant in Ondo State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, who works in the department that is in charge of the children’s home, told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity that the orphanage had never faced a harder time since it was established.
He said, “It is a serious matter; it has never been like this in this home. This time last year, our children’s home was full of gifts.
“But now, the recession has affected us. Though we got gifts from some people, they are far less than what we used to get.”
In one of the Cheshire homes in Ibadan, Oyo State, a storekeeper, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the story was the same there.
“Majority of donors who came this year were aged people who only came to thank God for granting them longevity. Even the politicians are not coming like they did last year.
“The children are helpless; some of us working here do so voluntarily because we do not base our commitment on commensurate remuneration. We appeal to the public, especially wealthy individuals and corporate bodies, to help these children.”
Also, in a private orphanage in Abeokuta, one of the workers there told Saturday PUNCH that the volume of gifts to the home had reduced.
He said, “We used to get many bags of rice from people, some of whom used to come here to celebrate their birthdays and wedding anniversaries, but now I can count the number of bags of rice in our store. They are so few. I believe the reason for this is recession.”
Also speaking to Saturday PUNCH, a social worker who works at the Government Orphanage Home in Minna, Niger State, Mr. Haruna Abdullahi, said that unlike before, no one had identified with the home to give the children Christmas gifts.
“As I am talking to you, no one has called us to say they are coming with gifts, unlike before. It is unfortunate,” he said.
Describing 2016 as the toughest year in the 16 years of the home’s existence, Abdullahi called on Nigerians to remember to help orphans even in the face of the current economic crisis.
While lamenting to Saturday PUNCH, a worker at God’s Children Home in Osogbo, Osun State, Mr. Folorunsho Adeosun, also  said, “It has not been easy. Many of our donors are from Lagos and they used to give without being reminded to do so. We have sent reminders twice in the past three months, but the responses we have got are not like what we used to get,” he said.
In Owerri, Imo State capital, the Matron of Red Cross Motherless Babies Home, Lady Cecilia Okere, described 2016 as a difficult year.
The Matron, who spoke through a volunteer, Mrs. Ogu Udoka, stated that the low patronage was borne out of the economic recession currently bedevilling the country.
She said, “The gifts received this year cannot be compared with what we got last year. 2016 is a very difficult year and has been full of challenges.”



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