As COVID-19 has forced businesses and regular life to slow down, meeting basic needs has become more strenuous for many. At TLR, we have been especially encouraged by the ways Nigerians are reaching out through humanitarian gestures to their neighbours and communities in a bid to ease people’s burdens.
Yet, besides the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of consistent work done to alleviate poverty in Nigeria, many of which have been piloted by women committed to making a practical difference. We are interested in amplifying the stories of these women with the aim to create ripple opportunities and inspiration for other young women.
Very recently, we spoke with Mrs Hameedah Balogun of Hameedah Poverty Relief Foundation about her organisation’s work, mission and impact in her community.
The Journey Into Humanitarian Work
Mrs Balogun ventured into volunteer philanthropy way back in her junior high school. Speaking on factors that influenced her, she says “my humanitarian sojourn was spurred by my father’s attitude and support for the less privileged where he works as a Senior Lecturer at the Federal College of Education, Abeokuta, Ogun State.”
Although a teenager working with the Nigeria Aid Group, her contributions focused on helping Hajj pilgrims by giving them required first aid treatment prior to their hospital visits before their trips.
Since then, she has identified other areas of humanitarian focus including education, adequate healthcare and support for entrepreneurship for SMEs. The work that Hameedah Poverty Relief Foundation does is geared towards the first two areas where she believes they are best equipped to make an impact and change the lives of some affected Nigerians.
Doing The Work
Hameedah Poverty Relief Foundation has different models in addressing education and healthcare in Nigeria—while periodically also supporting entrepreneurship. When it comes to education, the foundation is passionate about ensuring that Nigerian girls have the support that keeps them in school during their menstrual periods because period poverty is a serious issue that affects many young schoolgirls in Nigeria, according to the UN.
“We go to schools and educate young girls on menstrual hygiene management,” Mrs Balogun says. “To achieve this, we partner with different organisations and individuals in reaching out to schools, rural communities as well as internally displaced persons(IDP) camps. We also support local women who have small businesses by giving them grants to boost their businesses that is the area of entrepreneurship we support.”
When it comes to improving healthcare across Nigeria, Hameedah Poverty Relief Foundation raises funds for medical emergencies for children and babies occasionally.
Of course, working in the humanitarian sector often comes with the challenges. There are issues like lack of adequate funding and an inability to sometimes respond quickly and adequately to emergencies. Mrs Balogun’s foundation is not exempt from this, but she adds that “there are well-meaning Nigerians who come to our aid in cases of emergencies and this is usually a big relief for our work, so even when we might have some delays in the discharge of our duties, ultimately we get it done.
One of such ‘emergencies’ came in the form of COVID-19, which spread through the world in the first quarter of 2020, necessitating a lockdown in many countries including Nigeria. As economic activities slowed down in Nigeria, many suffered the impact of not having a daily wage to meet their needs and those of their families. In the first week of the lockdown, Hameedah Poverty Relief Foundation reached out to 50 families by providing foodstuffs physically and cash transfers to families in Oyo and Ogun states.
It can be daunting to be confronted by the many gaps in society so often and yet deal with challenges in the course of impacting lives. Mrs Balogun says that when such moments come around, she is guided by empathy and compassion for humanity. “This is what keeps us going,” she says.
Hope For The Future
Mrs Balogun says her ultimate hope for the people her foundation serves is that life will get better. “Everyone in such situations should bear in mind that ‘No Condition is permanent’; it will get better,” she says. Finally, she urges others to play their part beyond donating to foundations working in the field. “People should spread our messages to friends and families because empathy for others in need gives a ray of hope to the less privileged and allows them to feel loved,” she concludes.
For inquiries about how you can support Hameedah Poverty Relief Foundation, kindly contact them at:
phone: +2348033770358, +2347052791045