Sunday, October 28, 2007

The 87th good thing about Lagos: the Arrow of God orphanage

This past week I went on an American Women's Club field trip to visit three charities that the club supports. They organized this trip so members can see the good work that these charities do and be more ready to pitch in and help when needed. They also requested donations from the club's members so we were able to bring a supply of needed items to each location. I'll do a separate blog post telling about each of the charities.

Here's a shot of some of our group in the Chevron bus that provided us transport. Donations were piled in the back.

The first stop was at the Arrow of God orphanage. We got to this via some very rutted and roller-coaster dirt roads that led our trip leader to remind us that "you pay good money for this kind of ride at Disneyland." She was anxious to see the new home of the orphanage. They had moved this past spring after getting a large donation that allowed them to buy concrete to build a new facility. The funds came from the American pop singer Beyonce. She came last fall to perform in Lagos and she had learned about the orphanage when investigating charities in Lagos and she wanted to help them. She invited the children to come and meet her and she fed them and sang for them and they had a great time. Deborah, the orphanage director, said the older children knew who Beyonce was and they were thrilled to meet her. We were quite impressed with the buildings -- the women who had visited the orphanage in its old location said this was a big improvement. I was very impressed with the center's director. (She's pictured here in her office) The orphanage pamphlet I received said about her: "The President and Founder, Rev. Lt. Col. D. C. Ogo, an ordained Minister, a former Principal of the Nigerian Army School of Nursing and Mid-Wifery, a former Chief Matron and a retired Army Colonel who blends her military discipline with the warmth of a seasoned nurse to provide an enduring care and motherhood for the children." Sounds like a winning combination of skills! The orphanage is 9 years old and their brochure says that over 300 children have been adopted from the orphanage during that time.

After unloading the donations from the bus, we took a tour of the orphanage's buildings.

In the nursery area we were able to see and hold several new infants that had come to the orphanage. Generally the babies are brought there by the police after they have found abandoned infants, or after they've been given infants by people who find them abandoned. The babies were beautiful!
The director said that adopting a baby is very easy here -- there's not much paperwork and there's never a shortage of supply. (I'm sure actually getting the baby out of Nigeria and into the US there would be plenty of legal wrangling, however.) After holding these darling newborns, several women joked about bringing home a surprise for their husbands.

There are two buildings for living quarters, the one that has the babies and another that's a dormitory for the older children. There are 180 children at the orphanage right now, and the dormitory is not large, so they must really be packed in there at night! Behind these buildings is a courtyard area in front of the open building that is used for the school. This open school has classrooms divided by sheets of plywood. The children are working very closely together, but they seemed to be very focused on their work -- at least when they weren't greeting their visitors.

Here's the youngest kids -- with 3 that were down for the count.

Here's a close-up of a couple of the students. They loved it when I showed them their picture on my camera's screen.

A passing goat in the courtyard -- one of the women remarked that it was a plus to have a goat because it kept the trash down -- and laundry was hanging on the line. 180 kids must generate a lot of laundry -- though I'm sure they have much more limited clothing supply than the average American child. The facilities here would be considered very primitive in the States, I'm sure below what would be considered acceptable, but for Nigeria, it's quite an impressive facility. It was clean, the children were orderly and were learning and the babies were being cared for with love.


Lindsay said...

Looks like a very neat place! Those little children are so adorable. I think it's so cool that you get to go see the places the donation money supports. You really get to see the direct impact a little money can have on a place like that.

Anonymous said...

i have been informed that Beyonce did not contribute to the orphanage. if she did, then the orphanage hasnt received these funds yet.

tunde said...

Dear Carolee,
I'm sure the threads on this blog are pretty old but i just stumbled onto it it's fresh to me. I just want to say a big thank you and well done. It's not all bad in lagos. We have caring people in Lagos like the Rtd Col and lots of other people.
I really hope that you made the choice to stay but in the event that you did not, please know that we will appreciate your visits to nigeria (with your friends)to show the world that Africa has a heart and that we don't live on trees.
I'm sure you stayed on the island when you were here and didn't lice in a tree.
Great work again and God bless you real good

Arrows of God said...

This is a great blog.
Our blog is now up and running even though our website isn't.
Have a look here:!/pages/Arrows-of-God-Orphanage/157926837613507

Anonymous said...

Carolee dear, can I have your e-mail address to a personal thing?

Anonymous said...

I need to ask information on the blog of the orphanage. a mom