In April 2017, it was reported that the Lagos state government rescued 290 abandoned children in one year. This number is nothing compared to that of new born babies that are left to die on dumps, in gutters and road sides on a daily basis in the state.
Mrs Ngozi Igbokwe of Bales of Mercy Orphanage developed a passion for motherless babies and less privileged children from an early age and in a home located in the Gbagada area of Lagos, she nurtures to children who are victims of the circumstances earlier mentioned. In an interview with YNaija’s Impact365, she tells more on the orphanage and her love for the children she raises there.
Tell us about Bales of Mercy Orphanage.
Bales of mercy is a safe haven for abandoned, orphaned and vulnerable children in our society. We are registered with the Corporate Affairs Commision and regulated by the Lagos state Government. We started operations on the 26th of March 2012. We envision a Nigeria where all disadvantaged, abused, rejected, abandoned and orphaned children have their destinies restored and grow up in a safe, loving, caring and Godly environment.
Our mission is to build and manage secure homes for disadvantaged, abandoned, orphaned and vulnerable children in an environment of love and tranquility. To teach and imbibe Godly virtues, character and values to these children. To restore their self worth through early foundation of solid schooling. Through the process of adoption seek homes of responsible couples and families where they can achieve their fullest potentials in life.
What feeds your passion to provide care for orphaned and abandoned children?
The call was a divine one, it is the hunger to fulfill God’s mandate, the love for my country, the love for children and the strong desire to leave a formidable legacy for generations to come.
How many children have you taken in to the orphanage since inception?
From 2012 and till date, we have had 60 children pass through the home. Many have gone for adoption, some for reconciliation with their families and some for shelter and protection.
There’s a growing spate of mothers abandoning their newborn babies (especially day olds) on street sides, how do you suggest we can curb this problem in the Nigerian society?
The government and private sector need to provide social welfare for her citizens, build more shelter/half way homes, promote more sensitization and campaign for pregnant single girls and women, build counseling centres where the single pregnant mothers could have their children adopted through government agencies that would shield their identity and without too much bureaucracy.
Apart from providing a home for the kids, what other sort of care do you provide for them?
The children of Bales of Mercy orphanage are sent to good schools, they are provided with good medicals and we strongly advocate for adoption.
Have you gotten any help from the Lagos state government as regards funding and support services?
What are the major challenges you face in running the orphanage?
Some are of the major challenges are raising funds to pay rent, salaries, utility bills, school fees, medicals, challenge in mobility and energy.
How receptive are Nigerian families to adoption and foster care?
Adoption is gaining a lot of acceptance unlike before, but traditions and lack of knowledge of what adoption entails still holds sway. Many people embrace fostering but it’s not popular in our society due to some challenges e.g economy, tradition, lack of acceptance by family and legal challenges.
Do you follow up on the children you give up for adoption and the families that accept them? If yes, have you encountered a situation where you’ve needed to take back the child?
Yes, a limited follow up after adoption is done but Lagos state social welfare department goes the long haul in monitoring the child no matter where the child is in the world until the child turns 18.
What is the age range of the children in Bales of Mercy Orphanage?
We have an age range of two months to 10 years of age.
Do you have any forthcoming campaigns or plans for 2017?
We intend to do a launching to raise funds to acquire a land for building our home, to acquire an 18 seater Toyota Hiace bus for easy mobilty and also get a 27 KVA perkins sound proof generator for the home.