by Aziza Uko
It was the fourth day of the week long Samsung-Chelsea FC Dream the Blues Finale in London. Moses Magnut has just arrived London barely 6-hours earlier with his guardian, Gabriel Oyediji, the founder of Compassionate Orphanage under whose care Moses, his two brothers and sister live. He was held back by a glitch in his visa process – for some reason Moses’ biometrics data was corrupted and he had to go to British High Commission to re-do it at the last minute.
“It was worth it,” confessed Oyediji. “Seeing Moses on the pitch, training with Torres, Mata, Oscar, and Victor Moses just makes everything we went through to bring Moses here, worth it.”
“Moses’ parents have been passing through a hard time,” Oyediji hesitates, as if unsure he could trust the public with the information. “His father is under medical management, he has a brain tumour which has devastated the family economically. The mother is living with him in the hospital. It’s distressing what is happening to the Magnuts. It’s just sad.”
The third of four children, Moses who stands a head above his peers, fell in love with football when he was 5 years old and the sport has been the source of physical and emotional strength to him since. On the plane to Lagos, after his experience at the Dream the Blues Camp in London, Moses says, “I am convinced I can be an international footballer someday. I believe I have the strength and the ability that it takes and as Victor Moses told us at the camp, I have to keep improving on my skills.”
“Moses is a great kid, even as tragedy looms in the family, he performs above average in school academically,” Oyediji said. “He’s also reserved, he doesn’t warm up to people easily.”
“The Dream the Blues experience is highly stimulating. It goes beyond recreation, and exposes kids to a possible career choice,” the reverend with a doctorate explained. “For Moses, Samsung expanded his horizon and given him a new perspective on life, he can dream bigger. He met Victor Moses this week and knows that he can one day be like him, or Mikel Obi, his other football hero.”
“The Dream the Blues campaign is commendable. I wish all our football loving kids – and we have many – could experience this programme,” Oyediji concluded. “I just want to say congratulations to Samsung for coming up with such a programme.”
A story of uncommon fatherhood
How did Gabriel Oyediji, a 1982 graduate of Agricultural Science from the University of Port Harcourt discover his calling into charity work?
“I never knew what it means to have a father. There was nobody to hold my hand as a child, to guide me,” he told me, with sadness in his eyes. “My father died before I was born. I never met him. As a child I was subjected to cultural trauma. My people saw me as a child caring bad luck. People were afraid of me, and I grew up with terrible childhood experiences.”
One day in his childhood, under intense emotional pain, Oyediji went into a deal with God. “I vowed that if God would take me out of this bondage, as it were, I would dedicate my life to serving other children with traumatic childhood. And he did.”
“By a miracle, I graduated from the university and even did a Masters in Aqua Culture from the Lagos State University. I have a family, a boy who is 27 and a girl who is 25. Both of them are university graduates. God did it,” he said with a glimmer in his eye.
In 2002, Oyediji, who is also an ordained minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, began the Compassionate Orphanage; in 2005 it was registered by the Lagos State government, reputed to have one of the toughest processes. The home which at present has 38 children under its care is largely self-funded by Oyediji. “We don’t have regular donors, only occasional visitors.”
“I set up the orphanage so that kids who don’t have a father could experience the love and care of a father,” he explained. “I am humbled to be their daddy.”
You can read more about the orphanage and how you can help HERE
A load of thanks
Gratitude appears to be the life philosophy of this exceptional 13-year-old. Moses was grateful to have been selected to represent Nigeria at the Samsung-Chelsea FC Dream the Blues Finale in London. He looked forward to thanking the four Dream the Blues Ambassadors – Fernando Torres, Juan Mata, Victor Moses, and Oscar for the once in a life-time opportunity. He’s also thankful to Samsung for making his dreams come true.
“God will bless Samsung,” the JSS 3 student said when asked what he has to say to the global digital media and digital convergence technologies giant. “I wish the company progress.”
YNaija was in London to cover this event courtesy of Samsung Electronics West Africa Limited