Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The 126th good thing about Lagos: Bringing money to deserving charities

This next year I agreed to co-chair the American Women's Club office of Community Services. This is a big job, and the real focus of the club, which is to raise money to help with charitable efforts in our Nigerian community. The woman who has been leading this effort for 4 years, and doing a FABULOUS job of it, is moving to Kuwait, and she had been sending out appeals for quite a while for someone to replace her. I finally agreed to take the job. Before I left Lagos, there were many things to take care of with the handover and getting money to our charity sponsors before I left town for the summer. There's a lot to the job, but basically I manage the club's charity budget. Each charity we support has a sponsor in the club who visits regularly and brings them donations of money and goods from the club and makes sure they are accountable and my co-chair and I will make sure things are running smoothly and money gets allotted and accounted for. Handing out the money is the fun part of the job -- there's a lot of paperwork stuff that is not as rewarding. But, overall, it's a very worthwhile effort to be involved in and I think it will be a good focus for my spare time in Lagos.

I have in the past visited a few of the charities we support: the Arrow of God orphanage, the Heritage of God school, and the Family Life clinic. Before I left town, I brought a quarterly budget payment to a another charity that makes Braille books. I didn't take any pictures, but this charity is housed in a few metal temporary buildings in an empty lot. They are always asking for donations of heavy paper or cardstock (like used calendars) to use for printing of the books. They think it's funny that in other places Braille books are printed on new blank paper, because blind readers aren't bothered by things printed on the paper, so for them, recycled paper is fine. I have several friends who go to this charity weekly and help sort and cut the recycled paper to be used for the Braille books.

The other charity I visited is a home for severely disabled young people. They have two very dedicated matrons and facilities that, for Lagos, were quite clean and well-kept, though the facilities would have never been considered adequate in the States. Seeing the residents with such disabilities was quite heart-wrenching, especially when you see how little stimulation and therapy they are able to receive. Basically the matrons take care of their physical needs, but there is no effort to improve their abilities or educate them. This first picture is of our wonderful club sponsor who was about to move away. She is with a matron in the courtyard of the home where the residents are washed and fed. This past year we provided funds for a pump to keep this area dry, as it was often flooded, especially during the rainy season.

The matrons were very sad to report the death of one of their residents who had died the previous week after a severe epileptic seizure. It was obvious that they cared very much for these young people, most of whom had physical as well as mental disabilities. The next picture is of some of the residents in a screened porch in the front of the home. I think there are now about 18 residents in the home. They all seemed very happy, and many gave us great smiles.

Along with our club's donations to these charities, I was able to present checks to both of them from the American school. The students did a fabulous job with various fund-raising activities over the school year and they were able to give 4 of our charities donations, each totalling around $6400! Each of these charities were so thrilled with this unexpected bounty. The Braille center was having a budget shortfall and, before this donation, would have had difficulty finding funds to pay the salaries of their full-time staff. And this home is trying to find funds to finish their new facility, which they have been working on piece-meal for at least 8 years, doing work as donated funds came in. Hopefully within the next year they will move to their new home (which we were able to visit after our visit to the current center) and I will be able to post pictures of them in their improved facilities.


Rachel said...

Oh Carolee! That's GREAT! I bet it was such a thrill to bring such a nice surprise.

Beauty said...

Thanks for sharing your excellent efforts.

Dave & Suzanne said...

I love reading your blog. I have been an American expat wife in Lagos since June and am looking forward to joining the AWC and helping with the charity efforts. You are very inspiring.