#Impact365: How Zaynab Kassim of CASAF is restoring hope to children and teenagers in IDP camps

In this interview with YNaija’s Impact365, Zaynab Kassim lets us in on her childhood, the core values with which she was raised and how all of these fueled her deep passion for giving and rendering assistance to underprivileged children, especially those who have been displaced by the activities of insurgents in Nigeria’s North East.
Tell us more about Child Aid and Support Awareness Foundation.

Child Aid And Support Awareness Foundation (CASAF) was founded in November 2011. In almost 6 years of its existence, we have been providing children in orphanage homes and different communities around Nigeria with aid; some of which include (though not limited to) organizing free health screening exercises, providing back-to-school materials, mentoring talks, skill acquisition trainings , clothing items, scholarship opportunities and supporting their families with non-perishable food items during festivities.

Many of the beneficiaries are children from underprivileged homes unable to afford these basic amenities. Our aim is to ensure that underprivileged children do not miss out on enjoying basic opportunities available. CASAF also tries to ensure that children have some of the things they may need from time to time without being put under inhumane pressure.

Over the years, we have had events in Makoko, Ajegunle, Kuramo, Bariga, Ajah areas of Lagos and also in Abuja, Ibadan, Borno, Ebonyi, Nasarawa and Niger State.

What inspired the decision to set up CASAF?

I’ll say the inspiration behind CASAF is something that has been a part of me since I can remember. I was brought up in a home where giving was a compulsory part of our lives. As a child, you had to share with people who didn’t have. I still remember how full our house used to be growing up, we had a hard time differentiating the relationship between the many people who were always around , My dad was a real “human”, a selfless giver, he always empathized with others and loved to help and I think I got that from him.

We grew up believing that if you weren’t involved in giving, you were doing something wrong. I remember one time my dad had done ‘sadaqa’ on behalf of all the children, I came back and took some food stuff from my mum’s kitchen (without her knowledge) to do my own personal ‘sadaqa’, I was about 10 years old then.

As an adult, I started gathering my friends periodically to visit orphanage homes and give relief items to less privileged people. Then I decided to give it a name and that was the birth of CHILD AID AND SUPPORT AWARENESS FOUNDATION (CASAF).

How do you get funds to power your projects?

To fund our projects, we rally support among ourselves; we have over 70 volunteers around Nigeria, we also have family and friends who support our projects from time to time, We just itemize our needs based on the various projects and send out the memo to everyone (team, volunteers , family and friends). They are quite responsive and those who are unable to give us items usually monetize it.

Do you ever seek or have you ever received any support from the government at any level?

No, we haven’t sought for support from the government. For now we are building a model that runs itself and is transparent before we involve more stakeholders.

You’ve worked in parts of Lagos and other parts of the country, what is your perception of the poverty level in the country?

It’s more about the level of awareness than the poverty level. We don’t have to remind ourselves that there are poor people or how many they are, we must always empathize and do what we can to help one another. That is why we have CASAF.

Do you think that there is hope for the Nigerian child considering the current state of the nation?

There is always hope as long as someone is willing to hope and work for it. The future is bright, that is why we must nurture the Nigerian child into the desired future. There is hope and we are the hope. At CASAF, it’s our vision to provide hope for as many less-privileged child we come across,. For instance, at the Durumi IDP camp, we have two projects we are running, we recently reconstructed the school, we conducted an assessment exercise for the children to help us determine what class they belong to; we also recently concluded a skill acquisition program for some of the teenagers at the IDP camp, this gesture has restored hope as some of them now make quality washing soaps, beads, hair wigs and sell in bulk

What has the reception been like from your beneficiaries?

Very encouraging, sometimes they see me and say “Aunty CASAF” with smiles and cheers. There is nothing more rewarding than this.

What is the biggest challenge CASAF is facing in its work?

It is a combination of things, support as always and means of reaching the farthest and most remote parts of Nigeria. We are embracing the challenges and conquering one day at a time.

What are the events you’ve planned for the rest of 2017?

The IDP project is still ongoing , the children still produce soap as extra curricular activities, we have volunteers who monitor the sales on a weekly basis. Later this month, we have a Know Your Genotype (KYG) testing program targeted at secondary school students in Nassarawa State, also CASAF will mark 6 years of existence in November. We will be having a fund raising event – where we will be unveiling the new logo and also we’ll be showcasing items produced by some of our beneficiaries at the IDP camp.

Can you say you’ve achieved or partly achieved the goals that were set for this NGO from the get go?

We have hit and surpassed our goals. Thank God, but as we grow our goals get bigger and we keep working to surpass them too.

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