#Impact365: SmileCare Initiative has been putting eternal smiles on faces through the spreading of the gospel

In a world that has become increasingly overrun with hate and the gospel of Jesus Christ has been trampled upon and exploited by even religious organisations, this NGO is determined to change lives and make a difference through the spreading of the gospel and the message of love.

Not only does  SmileCare Initiative meet the spiritual needs of the people they reach out to, they meet their material, financial and sometimes, health needs too. In this interview with YNaija’s Impact365, Kayode Ayinoluwa who is one of founders of the initiative, tells us everything there is to know about their 10-year journey.

Please tell us what you do at SmileCare Initiative?

SmileCare is a non-profit organization founded in 2006, passionately concerned with putting eternal smiles on the faces of people all over the world. We aim to change the minds of people by convincing them of the possibility of a bright future through hope in Jesus Christ.

We show love to others and encourage them to do the same in return, even as Christ did to us all. Here at SmileCare, we believe in sharing and spreading the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and at the same time, we make use of every opportunity to help and to raise the hope of the distressed that they can achieve a better and more meaningful life. The smiles we intend putting on their faces are not merely momentary but eternal.

Smilecare Initiative has four (4) divisions- Welfare, Hospice, Orphanage and Youth Development.

In order for us to be able to achieve these goals we partner with homes, orphanages or Food banks by organizing outreaches where we are able to reach out. These outreaches are mostly self-funded by the team either via cash or gift items.

One thing that stands us out is we just don’t visit but spend quality time with the children/ wards of the homes visited which helps us build relationships that last for years.

You’ve been around for 10 years, how has the journey been?

Like Margaret Mead once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

It has been a journey of putting eternal smiles in the hearts and faces of people globally in our own little way. In the last decade, this vision has grown in the hearts of over 2,000 members and volunteers, working through outreaches all over the world. We have had over 40 successful outreaches within and beyond the borders of Nigeria – Lagos, Kaduna, Abuja, London, Canada, United States, Finland and still counting.

Can you please share what inspired the founding of SmileCare Initiative 10 years ago?

SmileCare was borne out of an inner desire to spend our time and resources for God. On the 26th of December 2006, Kayode Ayinoluwa, his brother Funto Ayinoluwa and two close friends (Bankole Oluwole and Femi Adebule) volunteered to visit a hospice (Heart of Gold Hospice, Lagos). The experience from the outreach was instrumental in setting up Smilecare Initiative. Thereafter, we went in search of advice as regards what the objective of THE organisation should be and then received an invaluable counsel in writing from the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God –Pastor E.A Adeboye. He admonished us to focus on winning souls into God’s Kingdom and telling others about Jesus. We have since embraced this as our mission and have subsequently grown through sharing the vision with other friends and asking them to run along with us.

One of the visions of the initiative is to share the love of God to mankind by leading them to Christ, how are you different from a church?

Although our operation revolves around Christ, we do not run a church-like structure. However, we consider ourselves as a Faith-Based organization that reaches out to people through outreaches and partnerships with homes, orphanages and food banks.

Our approach involves meeting material, emotional and spiritual needs of the less privileged by working with identified homes or hospitals.

Over the last 10 years, you must have worked in partnership with other NGOs. Can you mention some of them?

Yes we have and we understand that this journey of making a lasting impact in our society is not an individual journey. In 2012, we partnered with HOPE (Helping Other People Excel) in building a library at Special Correctional Center for Girls, Idi-Araba, Lagos. We have also received support from Grange School Ikeja, Redeemers International Secondary School (RISS), The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), The Lagos State Ministry of Youths and Sports etc.

How exactly does SmileCare reach out to people?

We basically work at partnering with homes, orphanages or hospitals across different locations. We identify the needs of the home, hospital or community which we intend to visit and communicate it to our members.

They serve as a medium to reach out, set up projects and also go in to spend quality time where we talk about love of Christ and possibility of a bright future through hope in Christ Jesus.

Our approach so far has been to identify the needs of the home or community which we intend to visit. Thereafter, we communicate these needs to our members who have always done a great job in meeting the needs of the homes and communities which we have adopted. As we set out to do this, we share the good news about Jesus.

Your 10th anniversary recently held, what are the major successes you’ve recorded?

Yes, Smile care Initiative has been around for a decade and we are quite excited about our future projects.

* A library donated to the Special Correctional Centre for Boys, Oregun, Lagos.

* A water-well to the Itori community, Ogun state through our missionary contact established in 2009. This greatly helped in reducing travel time of 2km for the villagers to get potable water which in turn reduced the outbreak of diseases such as Typhoid, Cholera, etc.

* A Library donated to Girls Remand home, Idi-Araba in partnership with HOPE NGO

* Sponsor a child’ project at Ijamido where we paid an entry-exam fee for a secondary school leaver and upon gaining admission, he received upkeep sponsorship from Smile care through his stay at the University

* Purchase of beddings for patients at the Lagos university teaching hospital

* Feed the streets project: Street outreaches in different locations – Yaba, Lagos; Maryland, Lagos; St. Catharines, Canada; Toronto, Canada; Ohio, United States; London, United Kingdom.

We’d like to know the challenges too…

One of the biggest challenges we have had over the years has been scaling up our activities. Remember, we mentioned we started out as college students and those students now work and are possibly married. It was quite difficult for many of us to run along but we were able to leverage on technology to bridge the gap by setting up virtual offices, hosting online meetings and also bringing on interns to help with administrative tasks.

What are your project plans for 2017?

We have great plans for the year. We are working toward setting up big projects in our partner homes, some of which include:

1. Purchase ECG Monitor and 5 Oxygen concentrators for Gbagada General Hospital,Lagos

2. Purchase 1.5KVA diesel generator for Royal Diamond Orphanage Home, Ojodu-Berger, Lagos

We encourage you to visit our website: www.smilecareinitiative.org for more information

Any last word?

Well, we would encourage everyone out there to join us as we paint the world one smile at a time by volunteering time and resources.

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