The economic downturn in the country cuts across all strata of the Nigerian society including charity homes. National Point took a tour of some of the charity homes in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital to feel the pulse of people there. Our reporter visited The Chesire Home, the Old Peoples’ Home at Habour Road and the Compassion Home at Nkpogu.
At the Cheshire Home, the matron in-charge who would not her name in print said things are not as they were in the past. She said a lot of things have wrong, that they is a clear decrease in the level of interventions-food and other items coming in from donors, a situation she blamed on high cost of food and other essential commodities in the market. She listed these as noodles, rice, beans, garri, toiletries, etc. which prices have doubled.
She is praying for improvement in the economic state in the country so responses to the home will improve.
“We are grateful to God, People are trying their best; you know it’s not easy.
“This one you see (donated items) is God-sent. Our children depend on donations, cash and material service. School fees have become difficult to come by, there is also scarce resources to fund skills acquisition.
“I pray for improved economy because if people have enough, they will be frequent here; but due to hardship, they can’t donate. Things have nose-dived,” she lamented, adding, “if you people still have opportunity to reach out to some prominent men, we shall be grateful.
The Cheshire home currently hosting 15 residents with plans to take-in more if things improve, is a known name in the state and used to play host to a constant stream of charitable individuals and organizations coming in with food items, toiletries, cash, sometimes game items to assist..
The home is now calling on good spirited individuals and organizations to its aid to help maintain those at the center. Inmates range from 13 to over 60 and according to the matron, five of them are receiving training on tailoring, shoe making, hairdressing, facials and the production of liquid soap. Three are students at the Universal Primary Education Secondary School, Borokiri , two are students at the Rivers State University and one is a pupil of St John’s Primary School, Creek Road.
Another challenge identified by the matron is washing soap and health care. The center is in need of medical care for its people especially for an elderly woman and a boy there.
“It has been long that my people have gone for medical check-up. I have an old woman and one boy that need medical attention. I will be grateful if anyone can be sent to check-up on them and administer treatment.
“The Mama with us has swollen leg, two months now. We have tried our best giving her suggested drugs. We have no cash to take her to the hospital.
The home has produced persons who have graduated into the bigger society and are fending for themselves. One such, a male, who was admitted into the home at the age of five told this publication that donors still come but occasionally. According to im, “survival is by the grace of God.”
Government, church groups and multinational companies were the main strength of the home in the past. The ex-resident prayed for the return of that era when multi-nationals, government and others resume regular support. He said such support i9n future, can be plunged into businesses by the home to reduce dependence on outside support.
The ex-resident who left Cheshire Home in 2009 when he wedded, emphasized that it is wish for the home to return to its former state of glory where facilities currently lying dormant, are put to use.
Time was when key personalities and organizations, social or non-governmental would not count their anniversary celebrations concluded until they had visited the charity homes but that is no longer the case.
The Compassion Home, Nkpogu, as the mission statement, is a short-term facility which aims to meet the holistic needs of physically challenged children of primary school age.
At the moment, 25 children are in the home and all are undergoing formal education at the Sancta Maria Nursery and Primary School, Nkpogu. Their age range is six to 13 years.
A major challenge which clogs the wheel of progress here is lack of funds. The center caters to the surgical treatment and provision of aid tools for its inmates but the stark reality of the harsh economy in the country is drying up support to the center.
A staff of the center told National Point that the state of the economy stares them rudely in the face, pointing out that one or two years back, visitors flooded the place, so also funding but now everything is in trickles. She explained that the volume of of donation to the center has decreased considerably.
She explained that in the area of skill acquisition and computer studies, due to stoppage of subvention from Intels by a new management, that area is on hold thereby depriving the children the enjoyment of a holistic way of living, adventure and the accompanying joy.
At the Home for the Elderly, Harbour Rd, Port Harcourt, National Point met a group, Great Unique Ladies on a charity visit to the home. They came with some food items and toiletries. Matron in charge of the home, Jane Raphael, informed that that visit was the first for the month, reason being that people do not have enough to meet their needs and be able to reach out to the needy.
She said things are more difficult than during the COVID-19 period. “Even COVID period was not as difficult as this”.
There are 23 old people receiving care at the home and the center has 15 persons as workers. Sustenance is dependent on material and cash donations from kind hearted individuals, and organizations.
Mr Confidence Samuel Baridor, manager Susan Brown Foundation also told National Point that the center located at 47 Collins Ohwanda Drive, Eagle Island is facing the same challenges as others but God has been seeing them through.
The Center has eight children aged seven to 12 years of age and reaches out to over 100 other vulnerable in different locations once a month.
“People are trying”, he said and acknowledged that they face exact challenges. “Currently, we have eight children but 100 plus in other locations within the state, we visit them monthly,” he explained.