By Olori Janet Mba-Afolabi
May 27. A commemorative date to celebrate, honor and appreciate children. It is also a day to draw attention to the condition of children in distress. There are millions of children whose lives are surrounded by huge starvation, poverty, death, violence, forced labor, sexual abuse, domestic violence, malnutrition and no education.
Statistics show that many school age children are out of school. For example, a survey conducted by the United Nations Children Fund UNICEF, indicates that the number of children out of school rose from 10.5 million to 13.2 million yet primary education is officially free and compulsory.
Malnutrition prevalence remains alarming.According to UNICEF 2018 figure, 2.5 million children die every year from malnutrition. The plight of Nigerian children in distress has attracted the attention of government and non-governmental organizations. Over the years they have taken various steps to provide solutions. But the progress made so far may have suffered a serious setback as COVID-19 outbreak has taken a devastating toll on many children, compounding an already precarious situation.
The pandemic shut down economic activities with remarkable speed and produced more children who are hungry. Many families are struggling for the survival of their children. Similarly, children in IDP’s, informal settlements, orphanages, on the streets, slums, overcrowded communities are also in dire need. The situation is pitiful and lamentable.
As we celebrate Children’s day, please remember children in need. Reach out to them if you can. Feed one of them if you can. Mother Theresa said, “if you cannot feed a hundred children, feed just one.” I have reached out to children in Apomuland, Osun state and Arepo in Ogun State. Those in Arepo are indigent children who my husband jokingly refers to as my “congregation”. Every year, I organize a small but remarkable get together party for 100 of them. But this year COVID-19 disallowed. Nevertheless, today is a special day for all Nigerian children. We should celebrate them. Let us put smiles on their faces and give them hope for a greater tomorrow.
Happy Children’s Day.
Olori Janet Afolabi
CNN Award Winning Publisher/ Queen of Apomu land.Osun state