By Mohammed Isa Bilal
When you educate a woman, you are educating the society; so goes one of the popular wise sayings. Under the supervision of Prof. Hafsat Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Kano State First Lady, the Ganduje Foundation, which has been in existence for almost two decades, has been impacting positively on the lives of the less-privileged in the society.
The Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) was originally established with the aim of assisting the poorest in the society and in particular, addressing the negative perception of the Almajiri child and the distress girl-child and women, especially within the boundaries of the state.
During a recent public function, Prof. Hafsat Ganduje, who is the Executive Coordinator of the Ganduje Foundation, has this to say: “Having observed the fact that the immediate society where I come from, has for decades paid little or no attention to girl-child education; but encouraged girls early marriage, which in most cases ended up in divorce, as well as leaving the girls as victims of VVF and illiteracy, this and many more reasons compelled me to encourage my husband to see reasons why we should set-up the Ganduje Foundation, which today is a template for sensitizing parents and supporting girl-child and those from poor background to acquire both Western and Islamic education. This we have been doing since 1999 till date,” Mrs. Ganduje remarked.
Since then, the foundation, under her watch, has been engaging and conducting community outreaches to sensitize and educate parents on the need to send their children and wards to school. On the other side, the parents are also admonished and encouraged often using material assistance to see reason why their male children should attend Islamic schools within their community without necessarily subjecting and exposing the children to danger if allowed to be sent to other cities around the country under the guise of acquiring Islamic education, while begging on the streets remains the dominant phenomenon under harsh and filthy conditions.
The foundation also, point to parents of potential Almajiri child the fact that; the Malam in whose care the child welfare is entrusted, is left without any material provision for the upkeep of the child which readily exposed the alms begging child to all sort of danger and indoctrination into criminal enclaves.
In addition, the Ganduje foundation has over the years ensured the sponsorship of 7,725 girl-children from primary to secondary schools as well as facilitated the admission of 4,622 girls into various tertiary institutions.
Also, the foundation has, through partnership with well meaning and public spirited individuals, a means to construct about 345 classroom blocks across the 44 local government areas of the state, which were basically embedded in remote rural communities.
These classes are being used particularly for adult education for both males and females of the benefiting rural setting.
Perhaps, it has been the belief of Mrs. Ganduje that government alone cannot shoulder the burden of mass education across all nooks and crannies of the society, hence, the need for all hands to be on deck, if education is to be taken to the reach of the less-privileged in our communities.
Going further, it is pertinent at this point to unveil what made the Ganduje foundation to stand out; in this regard many people out there did not know that the Almajiri menace is not only about the young under-aged boys that are conspicuous in cities across the country.
The fact is, there are also aspects of Almajiri girls that are fast springing up due to poverty and illiteracy in some Northern states of the federation. These classes of girls are often becoming victims of rape and other forms of domestic abuse by those who engaged them as domestic servants.
To address this rising negative trend, Prof. Hafsat Ganduje has introduced a novel approved to mitigate such tendencies through what has come to be known as In-House Adoption Policy.
This is a model means of adopting a child which does not necessitate taking the, especially, girl-child away from her parent’s home. In this case, the Ganduje Foundation would identify some of the indigent parents of the girl-child, convincing them to allow the girl-child to be enrolled in any of the school within their vicinity, while the foundation takes care of the girl’s education and other sundry needs in that direction.
So far, available records have shown that there are 5,112 girls that are currently engaged into the in-house-adoption policy of the Ganduje Foundation under the watch of Mrs. Ganduje.
To demonstrate her passion and avid quest towards changing the negative attitude of apathy towards Western education in this part (North) of the country, she had also introduced similar pattern of adoption for the school-age-boys with the aim of eradicating the Almajiri primitive means of Islamic education.
However, at the time of gathering resource materials for this piece, the actual figure of those benefiting from this scheme was not ascertained.
It is also instructive to note that the Ganduje Foundation’s humanitarian activities have also transcended into the field of health’s service. This was because over the years, the foundation was able to conduct numerous free medical outreach programmers across many communities especially in rural areas.
The most visible and widely public’s health programme of the the foundation is the free eyes medical treatment where people who are suffering from various degrees of eye impairment such as glaucoma, retina related cases, and short-sightedness are diagnosed, treated and provided with medical eye (lenses) glasses to aid their vision at no cost. So far 51,274 have benefited from such medical intervention since 1999 to date.
In addition to the foregoing charitable humanitarian gestures, the the foundation under the watch of the First Lady, 38,540 women have been empowered with start-up capital in order to make them self-reliant and thereby reducing the burden on their less-privileged breadwinners.
Similarly, available records have also shown that 9,219 widows have been trained in various skills and trades by the foundation, most of them are now skilled in their chosen vacations such as tailoring, knitting, soap and pomade making and hairdressing, while others were empowered financially to set up small trade enterprises.
What is more? The foundation is also involved in the care and maintenance of orphanages particularly in the state. It has been raising funds through reaching out to individuals of means and associates for the maintenance of these orphanages.
As she extends the immense contributions of the foundation across various communities, both within and outside the boundaries of the state, Mrs. Ganduje had stressed that the foundation would have done more than what is obtainable at the moment, if not for limited availability of financial recourses.
She then solicited for the contribution of corporate organizations; government at all levels and well-meaning individuals, for the sustained management and activities of the foundation, which of course are apparently overwhelming in all ramification.
Interestingly, the good news remains the fact that the foundation has added value and impacted tremendously in changing the negative livelihood of thousands of people, both young and old for the better.
Bilal is Managing Director Royal Publicity Publishing Company, a Jos based firm in Plateau State and can be reached via: 08167989085.