Thank you for visiting the blog for Ipaja Community Link (ICL), a small community-based organisation in Lagos, Nigeria, working towards creating a prosperous, healthy and empowered community in Ipaja.

The main activities of ICL are:
- skills vocational training for women and young people in basic cooking, sewing and bead-making
- youth and community volunteering
- community health education, awareness and support
- community care initiatives

ICL specifically aims to support and empower women, people living with HIV/AIDs, young people, and orphans and vulnerable children.

The following information is representative of the work of ICL and reflects the views of staff, volunteers and those that ICL are working with.

ICL is working hard to make poverty a thing of the past in Ipaja - no one in the community is asking for a handout; they are simply looking for ways to make their lives better, to provide for their families and to secure their future. For more information, please call 0702 969 8523, 0706 155 0665 or 0705 636 9269 (or add +234 if calling from the UK) or email icl@difn.org.uk.

Please read on... (and here's a tip: it might be best if you read from the bottom, for older posts, to the top, for newer posts)...

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Africa Representative of HelpAge International from Nairobi, Kenya, visits Agency for the Aged in Ipaja, Lagos...

On Monday 15th June, Nesta Hatendi, the Africa Representative of HelpAge International, visited Agency for the Aged to see the work being done for elderly persons on Abesan Estate, Ipaja, Lagos. Nesta met with many of the elderly volunteers who help with the running of Agency for the Aged as well as the co-ordinator, Mrs Idowu Okunsanya, a retired major from the Nigerian army, and who is more fondly known as 'Mama Major'.

HelpAge International is an international development NGO which helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. HelpAge International works in over 75 countries and its reach is further strengthened through a global network of like-minded organisations – the only one of its kind in the world. The organisation is driven by a fundamental understanding that older people themselves have the wisdom and the personal drive to contribute their own wellbeing and that of their families. The contribution older women and men make to society – as carers, advisors, mediators, mentors and breadwinners – is invaluable. HelpAge International does not currently have affiliates in Nigeria, but are hoping to expand their work in West Africa over the next few years.

Agency for the Aged currently reaches out to over 162 elders on Abesan Estate in Ipaja, through four key areas of work:

1. Elderly health care
2. Elderly skills and knowledge empowerment
3. Family and community support
4. Social and leisure activities
Agency for the Aged is a vision of Family Ark Mission, started by Mama Major in 1994, which firmly believes in the respect for the dignity of elders and so assists them to celebrate ageing with wisdom, grace and independence. Mama Major and the elders shared this vision with Nesta, whilst Nesta shared some literature and wisdom from HelpAge International, especially around the growing incidence of elderly grandparents looking after their children's children orphaned by HIV and AIDS across Africa. Agency for the Aged currently supports the elderly caring for orphans and vulnerable children, but this area of work is something that will grow over the next few months with the support of Ipaja Community Link, and with guidance from HelpAge International and its affiliates from across the continent.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

And then we increased Ipaja Community Link's income by almost 10%...

Recently, Ipaja Community Link (ICL) acquired an extra N250,000 (£1,000) funding after a fundraising drive on Red Nose Day in March by Children's International School in Lekki, Lagos. The school raised over N1,000,000 during their fundraiser and donated half of the money to share between ICL and People Against HIV and AIDS in the Barracks (PAHAB). Jennifer and Heather, both VSO volunteers with ICL and PAHAB, collected the money during their Africa-themed assembly at the school on Friday 5 June.

The fundraiser was co-ordinated by Lucy Jennings and Natalie Ghazi, from the UK, who are primary school teachers at the school. Lucy and Natalie visited the work of ICL and PAHAB earlier this year and wanted to see what they could do to raise money for children in Lagos who are less privileged than those who attend Children's International School. They were deeply moved when they visited Iba Community Primary School where PAHAB does a lot of work with orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC). There are over 700 children in the school, with many classes bursting at the seams with over 150 per classroom, and with no toilets and no safe drinking water. Both PAHAB and ICL will use the money raised as part of their existing OVC programmes. ICL intends to use the money to help with the running of its Saturday programme for OVCs and for the expanded programme which includes school attendance grants and nutritional support for extremely vulnerable children and families in Ipaja. Some of the money will also be donated to Baruwa Community Primary School - recent campaigning by ICL resulting in the renovation of the school; however, much work is still to be done by constructing toilets and building new classrooms.

As well as raising money, the children in the school also went home and collected lots of resources for the children of Ipaja and Iba, such as clothes, shoes, books, stationary and toys. The pupils of Children's International School were delighted to have collected so many resources and were eager to assist with packing them into the van destined for the mainland of Lagos - over two hours drive from Lekki. This money, however, is just the start. N250,000 is an amazing amount of money to have raise to assist our programmes, but much much more money is needed. Pupils at Baruwa Community Primary School (seen below) needs at least four new classrooms, modern toilets and a functioning bore hole (the government recently installed a bore hole, but with no means of electricity to pump it). ICL aims to facilitate this process, not to lead it, hoping for matched funding from other organisations, such as Rotary and community leaders, to ensure a sustainable development programme.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Happy Children's Day in Ipaja!

Last Wednesday, 27 May 2009, Ipaja Community Link (ICL), celebrated National Children's Day in Nigeria by throwing a party for over 60 children living in and around Ipaja. The children, many of whom attend ICL's orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) programme, took part in dancing and singing competitions, fashion parades and drama. The children, along with the Baale of Baruwa, the head teacher of a nearby school, parents and staff and volunteers of ICL, came together to focus on enjoying a day dedicated to them and to celebrate being children.

Several of the children from ICL's OVC programme presented a drama around the issues of HIV and AIDS from information that they have learnt during the Saturday Club. According to UNICEF, there are an estimated 1.8 million children in Nigeria orphaned by AIDS. But this is still just a fraction of the number of children whose lives have been radically altered by the impact of HIV and AIDS on their families and communities. ICL is working hard to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS, to educate children around the issue and to empower them to care for and educate other young people in the Ipaja community. Lucy and Segun, ICL's Community Care Workers, along with several of ICL's youth volunteers, run the Saturday OVC programme by providing an opportunity for children to socialise outside of school and their homes, receive some additional lessons around literacy and numeracy, and also some nutritional support. During the Children's Day celebration, the children received food, prepared by trainees on ICL's skills acquisition training programme, drinks donated by staff and gifts and prizes donated by supporters in the UK.

However, as with much of the work of ICL, there is so much more that could be done to increase the scope and impact of the OVC programme. ICL is working on developing a sustainable partnership with the Rotary Club of Gowon Estate, Ipaja, to support the growing number of orphans and vulnerable children in the community through the international development organisation HOPE Worldwide. ICL currently has funding to support just 20 OVC's, but Lucy and Segun are regularly identifying more OVCs in the community and, with the assistance of Rotary and additional funders, ICL could support many more children who need our support. We are particularly focussed on the need to deliver school assistant grants, especially for uniforms, transport, books, stationary, and to support the families of OVCs with nutritional support, education, and the provision of essential items such as mosquito nets and drugs. For more information or to pledge financial support to our programme for the most vulnerable children in the community, please contact Yomi, the Coordinator of ICL, on icl@difn.org.uk, or visit the work of ICL when you are in Lagos.