Pastor Solomon Folorunsho is the Coordinator Home for the Needy Foundation Uhogua, Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State. A foundation that takes care of over 3, 000 internally displaced Persons (IDPs) mostly from the North East state of Borno. The Foundation recently celebrated outstanding academic achievements of its inmates.Two of them bagged first class at the Edo State University, Uzairue, winning five out of eight awards at the University’s last Convocation ceremony. In this interview with FRANCIS OGBUAGU in Benin, Folorunsho narrates what made him take up charity work. Excerpts.
How do you feel seeing the outstanding academic achievements of the inmates,who nobody earlier gave any chance to succeed?
I am overwhelmed by joy, I am so happy, you can see my mood,I am happy because I believe in these children. I believe that if given the opportunity every human being can become whatever he wants to be in any chosen career. So, it is a thing of great joy for me that everybody is beginning to see what this place is all about and what we have been doing here. Here,we give moral training, educational training, we mould them to be what they want to be and that the world is before you , and that you were brought here to change your world. I am so happy and I thank all of you that have always stood by us. I also ask you to join us to celebrate, because more are coming.
Many of them are making their papers , infact our need now is how to fund them. If you go everywhere here in the evening, in their houses, under the three, they are reading their books very hard and with these results, everybody is now inspired. They know that success is the only thing left for them. Home for the Needy Foundation is a success centre. We established it to give life to lives that have failed, dejected lives, vulnerable lives. Poor people, orphans, rejected people, hopeless people and that is why it is called Home for the Needy. It is for everyone that is in need.
What is the motivation or is there any success formula?
Our motivation and success formula is love. If you come here we care for them,we love them. Here, there is no big man. Everyone is important, no big man here. I told them, I am not better than you. It just happened that I am your coordinator, but you can achieve something. That care is what does it. Everybody eats the same food, drink same water. In the room I stay, you can see everybody come in freely, no segregation, no Hausa, no Fulani, no Igbo . We don’t see you by where you come from, your religion or beliefs. We just show God’s love to you.
Another form of motivation is that whoever you are seeing today some- where, the person worked hard. So, if you work hard, you will achieve something. And with all the people coming from different sectors of the society: doctors, lawyers, governors , senators and other politicians coming to give speeches to them, and these are great motivations.
In years to come what do you think will be the multiplayer effects of the work you are doing here now?
Nigeria and the world will have harvest of intellectuals, engineers, doctors, lawyers , nurses , agriculturists, name it. Nigeria is going to say thank you, he world will say thank you to the Home for the Needy. Even sportsmen and women. We have a league here. We have table tennis, basketball, netball and other sports. We will give the world the best.
Considering the cost of schools they graduated from, don’t you think the school fees are on the high side?
I tell you the way we love these children, we would like to put them in the best schools. We just survive on donation, one person comes to say I want to pay school fees for these number of students. Though, it is very expensive, we sacrifice everything we got, now as you are looking at me I don’t even have a car and somebody say to me what do you want me to do for you. I will tell them, I have so so persons in so so schools, pay school fees for them and the person will say, ‘is that all you want?’ That is what you are seeing today. So we should not look at the cost but look at the future.
Because when you want a good society, a developed society, that is the sacrifice you have to make, that is the price. That is the price you are seeing. Because it might be expensive now. Imagine this man that have won all these awards, what he will give to the world, what he will give to this nation compared to what was spent on him is nothing. So, we should not look at the cost, we should give everybody the chance to be what he was created to be.
What is the motivating factor, what inspired you to this charity work?
My upbringing and relationship with God; when I was growing up I was a very sick child. Though my parents were an average family, they were able to take care of me . But among all my siblings, I was the weakest of my father’s children. I was always sick. They will say, ‘this child will not live long.’ In school, I was always beaten up by other children. Several times I attempted suicide, because I hated myself. I wasn’t as smart as other children. I saw children playing ball and I’d want to join them to play, but I couldn’t play. I will collapse. Always collapsing. But in my heart, I always tell God if really you are alive and make me well like others, I will not live to see anybody suffer.
I will not live to see anybody go through what I went through and I will be there for children, especially those in need. And God did it and brought me to where I am today and I began to see that true religion as the bible says, is to care for the needy especially the orphans. This is what motivates me. I love to see people smile. I don’t know how God created me. When someone is smiling, that is what makes me happy. When you are not smiling, it hurts me, especially when I can do something about it and I am not doing it. It makes me sad and sick. That is the motivation. And when I look at those here, my joy is that we are happy.
What is your vision for this Foundation for the nearest future?
I expect this place to wear a different look in terms of infrastructure, the house should be upgraded. The schools should be modern, better than it is. All the facilities, the equipment needed should be there. This place should be doing better than we are doing now. As far as there are persons in need, this place should be there for them. So, I expect that persons, corporate bodies, government, non governmental organisations and good spirited individuals to come and invest here. Even when a I am no more here, I want this place to still be useful to mankind.
I still believe that we can establish this kind of thing across the states in Nigeria and other needy countries. We have already started something in Abuja. This is what gives me satisfaction. I want it to be more modernised with better facilities and others.
What do you expect from the children next session?
Every school session is always better than the other. The students will be like I want to do better than others. You see we are celebrating Emos and others. The next session is going to be better than what we have now. I was told that in one department in the University of Benin, it is Home for the Needy children that are leading there and the way they are performing everybody knows them. We even have a 15-years-old girl studying medicine at the University of Benin. They are in every department in many universities all over the country. Though I am the one everybody sees, I am not the only one doing it. We have others.
I want to appreciate the whole workforce here. Those working in different departments. The kitchen,the sports, education, security. All of them are making sacrifices, without them I will be able to do nothing . Also, those of you that are there for us, who call once in a while, Who give donations, those who come to teach. Who come to inspire the children. We are grateful to you. I want to appeal, we want more. Now, food is very scarce in this place, we need food. Even though we are celebrating the feats by our students.We have 84 of our children not yet back to school because we are owing their universities.
We have not paid and everyday they are looking at my face and I tell them to keep hope alive. We want every government agency to come to our aid and intervene in the area of education. Pick-up their school fees and pay. We don’t want these ones to be in the streets and turn to criminals. And everyone is saying that we are not secure. We want them to be the doctors that will treat you and remove the sickness from your body. They will defend you in court and give you justice . Everything that the world needs. They will be able to provide that. We are therefore appealing to good spirited individuals to come and support us.