By FLORENCE ONUEGBU
LAGOS- Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has urged rescued “street boys and girls“ not to give up on their dreams of becoming better individuals in the society.
Sanwo-Olu gave the advice at the Lagos House, Ikeja, when he received female talking drum expert, Aralola Olumuyiwa, popularly known as ”Ara”, and some of the street kids she is rehabilitating under the ”Eko Inspire Me” project which is supported by the Lagos State Government.
He listened to heartbroken narratives of how the youngsters suffered social exclusion and ended up on the street.
Some of them were victims of low parental attachment and family disintegration. Others left home after suffering abuses, while some took to surviving on the street when they became orphans.
They had their hopes dashed and dreams shattered, they constituted urban nuisances and were seen as menaces before they were rescued.
The victims’ stories are now turning positive through the ”Eko Inspire Me”, a project sponsored by Gov. Sanwo-Olu.
The governor urged the rescued street children not to give up on their hopes and dreams, but to take advantage of the initiative to develop their talents.
He commended the artiste for creating the platform for redemption of street kids, pledging more support for the initiative and using it as a good example to drive social change.
Sanwo-Olu approved the provision of working tools and equipment for 100 of the street children trained in various vocations.
About a thousand of the street children are now being redeemed through the social initiative envisioned by Ara and are being rehabilitated, trained in vocations and empowered to be responsible citizens.
Sanwo-Olu hosted 120 of them and assured them of his commitment to their full rehabilitation and reintegration in the society.
He said the project had offered the victims opportunities to rebuild their lives and become useful to themselves.
Sanwo-Olu said that the government had not only focused on addressing issues leading to social exclusion but had also focused on rehabilitating and changing the lives of victims.
“The Eko Inspire Me“ project, being championed by Ara, has been making our work a lot easier. This is the effort of someone which God has led to change many people’s stories to positive ones.
“The minimum we can do as a government is to lend our support and make life better for the victims. Through this initiative, we have connected with a community of homeless individuals aimlessly roaming the streets.
“Lagos has inspired so many people and elevated them to great positions from their humble beginning on the streets. As victims of social isolation, your stories must not be different.
“Ara is using her voice and wisdom through this initiative to help you and turn your situation around for good. The least that is required of you is to show your commitment to this effort, which is targeted at changing your situation,”
Earlier, Ara said that she envisioned the initiative 10 years ago after her mother’s experience with street children in Oshodi, adding that she almost gave up on the project because of lack of funding.
She said that Sanwo-Olu was the first governor to listen to her and support the project, describing the governor as ”a man who cares for vulnerable young people”.
According to her, a lot of homeless children on the street are not born in such conditions.
“They are individuals who found themselves homeless because of issues beyond them. We are using this project to lead them back home as responsible members of the society.
“We are empowering and encouraging them to discover their skills in sports, entertainment and other areas through this project.
“It takes a caring father to understand and help these children grow out of their mistakes. If truly we desire change in this country, we must see these victims as those who deserve a chance to live,” Ara said. (NAN)