Mr Abayomi Fagbenro is the Founder/ Chief Executive Officer of Hope Also Needs Help Foundation(HNHF). Based in Virginia, United States, Fagbenro has his educational background in Information Technology. He spoke with REMI ANIFOWOSE on his foundation’s plans for the underprivileged Nigerians in eradicating poverty, unemployment, among other issues. Excerpts:
WHAT is the motivation behind Hope Also Needs Help Foundation?
Well, I can say I was brought up in a Christian home, one of the values my parents instilled in us while growing up was to always help our neighbours and reach out to the needy at all times. They always told us back then that when we have two, we should always give one. That value was what had guided me all through my younger days till today. I also find out that anytime I come to Nigeria, I see what is going on around my circle of influence. Majority of the people I reach out to don’t have the most basic need of life based on the circumstances in Nigeria right now. I think with the knowledge and little resources I have right now, it is the right time to give back to communities and extend a hand of help to our state and even my home country, Nigeria.
What are the challenges you have observed in Nigeria and how does Hope Also Needs Help Foundation come in to address the challenges?
In my own view, the number one challenge I think we have in this country is leadership. Our political and religious leaders are not helping matters. The system has been corrupted. I can’t explain what I’m seeing anytime I come to Nigeria. I see poverty, I see unemployment, I see hunger. People don’t have the most basic need of life which is food. Food is the immediate need of people. Most youths are jobless. When I walk on the streets sometimes, I see people begging for money to find something to eat, even well-dressed, cute-looking individuals beg for money. These are part of the reasons I put up this foundation; to help and assist people who are really in need of the resources the foundation would provide.
How does the Foundation plan to eradicate poverty in the communities. What are the arrangements / facilities on ground for such?
Well, like I said earlier the poverty level in Nigeria is massive. Financially, I do not think one man can single-handedly fix the problem of this nation. It has to be a collaborative effort. Looking at the way the government is set up right now, they are not currently doing enough but what we have outlined in our foundation is that we have targeted some communities, some classes of people and we have infrastructure in place to start from our local areas. Considering our little resources right now, every end of the year, we give out food packages (both raw and cooked) to people who we know really need them. We give clothing materials to them. We visit a few Motherless babies’ homes and orphanages to make donations. We also organise medical outreaches for those who need urgent medical attention and do not have money to visit the hospitals. We have doctors and nurses on ground to attend to them.
We are also thinking of extending this to probably once a month to set up places that people can go to, to get raw and cooked food. We have also provided borehole facility for Adabeji community for the benefit of residents who struggle to get potable water and this, we hope to provide for some other communities in Ibadan too. We have project coordinators that are working on this right now. We have an office in Ibadan, where we are operating from, but in the future, we are looking into reaching out to people that want to join the course to be able to assist us to reach out to more people nationwide. We are expanding by the day and hopefully, before the end of this year, we would expand our resources and extend our tentacles.
What challenges is the Foundation encountering in executing these projects?
We have numerous challenges but the first and major challenge we have is trust. We found out that there is lot of integrity-related problems among our people. And just for the fact that for right now I’m not stationed here in Nigeria, finding people that are really trustworthy is a major issue. Getting the materials directly to the right people is also a major challenge.
Funding too is one of the problems we have in reaching out to more people. But, so far, so good, despite all these odds, we are making progress because people’s lives are being touched, especially the underprivileged.
How is the Foundation funded?
For right now the foundation is funded by me, the founder. I have a board of trustees that is helping out from time to time as well. But in the future, we are looking at reaching out to other organisations in the United States who we intend working with. This is the initial stage, we are making progress; there is still a lot of work to be done.