New Telegraph

I’m Happy When the Less-Privileged Are Happy –Edo IDP Home Boss

Pastor Solomon Folorunsho is the General Overseer and Coordinator of Home for the Needy Foundation, otherwise known as the Internally Displaced Persons IDP, located in Uhogua in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State. A place that is housing over 6,000 displaced persons made homeless by Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast. In an exclusive interview With OJIEVA EHIOSUN, he spoke on a number of issues affecting the children and why Edo IDP is investing so much in the education of the children. Excerpts:

The year 2024 is just one month old, how would you describe 2023, talking about life with the children and how was Christmas celebrated in the home for the Needy (IDP)?

Well we give thanks to God for His grace and mercies over our lives. That we survived last year is just by His grace. We are moving and we keep moving. Again, I’m happy to say that the Yuletide and New Year celebration here was wonderful, unlike previous years, when we hardly see anybody. But last year’s festival was really good for us. A lot of people came to celebrate with these children, they brought cooked and raw foods to the children, they gave them a sense of belonging and made them forget about the horrible things they passed through in the hands of Boko Haram insurgents. It was really really wonderful. I want to use this medium to thank everyone who came to show love, the children felt love by the kindness of Nigerians and others. Again I will not forget members of the Nigerian press, they have really done well for us by giving us publicity and putting us up there.

Records have it that you have approximately 150 students waiting to write UTME, how do you cope with the burden of financing this?

Right now like you rightly said, we have over 150 students who are in UTME preparatory class, but they have not been enrolled because of finance. We are appealing to the government, individuals and corporate organisations to please come to help shoulder their responsibilities. The children are working hard, they need that enrollment and funding. So I’m appealing to everyone not to let these children go back to the streets, they need everything that will make life meaningful and better for them. These children want to go to school, they want to grow, they want to be useful to themselves and the society. They have seen the importance of going to school, so they are eager to be good citizens of this country.

As a pastor that his calling is serving the people, and providing humanitarian services, do you have any regret so far, and again what makes you happy?

Not at all, this is a very interesting question. I don’t have any regret. In fact if there is any regret at all, it is that I feel I should have done more than I did. Now about what makes me happy, I am a pastor by the special grace of God. I feel very happy doing what God asked me to do, and I am happy when I see the less privileged people happy. It is not easy doing humanitarian works. Actually, I’m very passionate about my calling and I am happy doing it.

90% per- cent of the people in IDPs and Home For The Needy are from the Northeast, how are you managing them?

Once again, we thank God for every- thing. Yes majority of the people here are displaced persons from the Northeast, especially from Maiduguri. During the crisis in the Northeast of Nigeria, hundreds of thousands of children had to flee from their villages and towns. They hid in the mountains and caves to escape the unimaginable violence caused by Boko Haram insurgents. Some of them witnessed how their parents, brothers, sisters and relatives were killed ruthlessly and their homes destroyed. Actually it’s a big burden, but God is helping us. Home for the Needy provides shelter for them so that they can start life all over again. But we need support to enable us accomplish what we set out to do for them.

This place has become a citadel of learning, and it has produced a large number of graduates, how were you able to do it?

Good question. You know education is the bedrock of any foundation, a country without education is lifeless. According to the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, education is the best legacy you can give a child. So, we have decided to make education a priority. You know one thing the children are very happy seeing themselves getting is education. This home has produced a lot of graduates in various fields and we are very happy.

Over 2,000 eligible voters live in this camp, yet there is no voting center here, do you want a voting unit to be located here?

Yes, talking about the last general elections, some hoodlums came and snatched ballot boxes and they fired gunshots. Four of our people got injured from the incident. Infact, it will be difficult to convince our people to go out and vote if the Federal Government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) don’t put voting unit here. We are appealing to the INEC, the Federal Government, and all the relevant agencies to come locate one voting unit inside the camp so that our people can conveniently vote without being harassed or intimidated by hoodlums. Some of the people that were shot during that election are still receiving treatments.

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