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)...

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Community rallies together for Ipaja health awareness day...

On Tuesday 29th September, Ipaja Community Link (ICL), in conjunction with Agency for the Aged, Melvin Jones Primary Health Screening Foundation and Ijegun Community Health Foundation, organised a community health awareness day in Ipaja. Over 150 people came for free HIV screening, free breast cancer screening, and free blood pressure, weight and temperature tests. The event was held in the Baale of Baruwa's compound, the community leader of Ipaja, who endorsed the event by allowing the use of this compound and who also donated canopies, chairs and refreshments.

ICL has been working hard to collaborate with other NGOs focusing on similar issues, such as HIV and AIDS and maternal, infant and elderly health. This community health event on Tuesday brought together four NGOs and 16 volunteers from Ijegun Community Health Foundation and Melvin Jones Primary Health Screening Foundation to provide free testing for the community. Those in attendance were also able to pay just N500 (under £2) for blood sugar level testing and eye tests. ICL receives funding from Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) for a national volunteering programme. Last month, staff from Ipaja Community Link and the international volunteer with VSO visited Ijegun Community Health Foundation to talk to the community about the benefits of volunteering. The Foundation now has over 30 volunteer nurses providing services throughout Ijegun. 12 of these volunteer nurses assisted with the health day in Ipaja, alongside 4 volunteers from Melvin Jones.

During the event, 74 community members were received confidential HIV testing and counselling and 34 women were screened for breast cancer. Ipaja currently does not have an HIV and AIDS testing centre, although ICL are working alongside Ayobo-Ipaja local government and Lagos Sate AIDS Control Agency (LSACA) to ensure that a centre is established. Mercy Maxwell-Gii, ICL's HIV and AIDS Programme Manager, has met several times with the Medical Officer of the local government to this end. Within the next few weeks, Mercy will be providing counselling and testing for ICL's youth volunteers following basic awareness training with them earlier this month. The youth volunteers will also be trained as peer educators on HIV and AIDS following a model set by Ijegun Community Health Foundation.

For more information about ICL or any of our partner organisations, please do not hesitate to contact us at icl@difn.org.uk or on +234 (0) 809 678 3177 or +234 (0) 706 974 3615. With further financial support we would be able to run more outreach days like this, providing essential medical care to the community where the government are failing to deliver.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

So, what's been happening with Ipaja Community Link over the last couple of months?!

This summer has been a busy time for staff and volunteers at Ipaja Community Link (ICL) with a summer camp for orphans and vulnerable children, assisting vulnerable families in Ipaja, commencing the organisational development process, the growth of the youth volunteer programme and, lastly (but perhaps most importantly!), hosting some big stars from Nollywood...

ICL's orphans and vulnerable children summer camp, August: Over the summer months in Ipaja, ICL has been reaching out to the most disadvantaged in the community – children from very low-income families, orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) – by providing a summer camp throughout August every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, run by staff and Ipaja youth volunteers. Over 25 children had English and Maths lessons every day from staff and Ipaja youth volunteers, learnt pottery-making, went to an amusement park, received cake-making lessons from one of our skills acquisition instructors, enjoyed dancing (modern and cultural!) choreographed by volunteers, watched drama performed by volunteers, and received IT training. And played lots of games!

Quite a lot to pack into the four weeks! Each day the children received lunch and refreshments, which included donated drinks from the Zen Group and stationary, t-shirts, caps and food from Indomie. Each child went home with big smiles! Special thanks to Yomi, Lucy, Segun, Tinuke and Confidence for the success of the programme, all other staff, and especially to volunteers! ICL will be recommencing its Saturday Club on 19 September providing weekly socio, psycho, educational and nutritional support for OVCs. Working alongside State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and local government, ICL will be reaching out to over 200 OVCs from September. This programme continues to run on just N3,000 (less than £12) per week and is in much need of further support from donations.

Assisting vulnerable families in Ipaja: ICL are supporting the Anifowose family in Ipaja, who have been suffering from glaucoma. The youngest daughter, Adeola, became blind from glaucoma two years ago at the age of 12. Her father, Festus, and older sister, Duru, have now started to have their operations to treat their glaucoma. Their sight will not be restored (Duru has already lost her sight in one eye), but the glaucoma will be halted at its current stage. Like many in Ipaja, the Anifowose’s are a low-income family, so the children are involved in the OVC programme, the mother of the family will soon be starting on the third skills acquisition training programme, Duru will learn pottery-making through ICL’s new youth skills acquisition training programme, and the father will be given a small loan to start a business. Over N200,000 was raised from supporters in UK and within Nigeria to help this family – thank you all so much for your support!

The organisational development process: ICL has commenced the Organisational Development (OD) process –a model used by Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) to assess partners and intended to increase organisational effectiveness and develop a continuing capacity for learning. This process will assist ICL to build on its abilities in areas such as HR, finance, strategy, vision and values, and communication. It will also help to increase the scope, impact and efficiency of ICL’s development initiatives. The process is being led by VSO volunteer, Jennifer, along with assistance from staff and volunteers.

New recruits to Ipaja youth volunteer programme: Ipaja youth volunteers are growing steadily and having a huge impact on community – as well as regularly assisting with the running of an immunisation clinic, the 30+ youths played a fundamental part in the running of the children’s programme and have been making their own versions of Nollywood with dramas around issues such as dangers of drug abuse, stigma around HIV and AIDS, importance of education, and issues around early pregnancy. Following recent HIV and AIDS awareness training with Mercy, ICL’s Assistant Coordinator, the youths will soon act as peer educators in local schools. They are also working alongside elders from the community as part of the preparations for World Elders Day on 8 October coordinated by Agency for the Aged. The youths and elders will be planning and rehearsing a drama performance for the celebrations around the theme "Elders: Their role in nation-building". On 12 August, over 20 youth volunteers gathered together for International Youth Day to attend an event which addressed the importance of information technology and the internet for positive development. Subsequently, ICL is currently trying to look for resources and funding to organise an I.T. training programme for the youths within the next couple of months.

And finally!!!

As part of the children’s summer programme, on 14 August, ICL Akin and Paw Paw visited ICL – two small, but very big Nollywood stars – and spoke to the children about their work, education, hopes for the future, and tips on how to become Nollywood actors, as well as answering plenty of questions from the children! The children were delighted that Akin and Paw Paw came all the way to Ipaja. This was a great success and we hope that we’ll be involving them more in our programmes over the next few months.