When Ayomide Gana* lost her husband in 2007, it made life a lot harder. Together with her five children, four boys and a girl, she lived in two small rooms in their village near Gwagwalada, a suburban district of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
She tried different jobs but her earnings were not sufficient to support her family. She started small-scale farming, but water scarcity and conflicts over resources in the community were always a concern.
After two long years of fighting to make ends meet, SOS Children’s Villages started its outreach in her community as part of its family strengthening work. Ayomide's family was the first to be referred to the programme by the community. At that point, help from relatives had altogether dried up.
The programme supported her with food items, payment of school fees for her children and payment of medical bills. The family, in dire need of sustenance, but also emotional care, received support through counselling, childcare, parenting and life skills training. These initiatives helped Ayomide and her children to cope emotionally and strengthened their determination to succeed in life.
She learnt about the importance of hygiene for herself and her family and the importance of education. She also got access to self-help groups and microcredit.
Apart from the yields Ayomide gets from her farm nowadays, she also works as a poultry keeper for SOS Children’s Villages’ key implementation partner, PAIDO Community Development Initiative. She receives a monthly salary whilst also learning the trade in the process. As a real bonus, she takes home the poultry droppings as manure for her farm.
Ayomide’s family now lives in a three-roomed house, has access to health care and eats breakfast, lunch and dinner every day!
Meet Ayomide's children:
- Bala is the oldest child of the family and is a graduate in Public Administration from the University of Abuja. He is currently enrolled in the compulsory National Youth Service Corps and assists his family with part of his allowance he receives. He wants to secure employment after his national service so that he can better support his mother and younger siblings.
- Chigozie is the only daughter and the second child. She completed her secondary education in 2016 with good grades. She started tailoring training in order to gain a vocational experience that she can use to support herself. She has also enrolled for the university matriculation examination to study Sociology if she gains admission. She loves athletics and represented her school in several competitions. She is also a chorister in her church.
- Aliyu completed his secondary education in 2017 with good grades. He is a good footballer with a gentle and positive outlook. He hopes to study Geography or Social Studies in a tertiary institution if he passes the university matriculation examination he took recently.
- Jeremiah is a technically inclined young man who likes to try his hands at equipment and gadgets around him. He is also very enterprising. He is in Junior Secondary School and is committed to his education as well as football.
- Mamman is the last child of the family and is currently in primary school. He is full of energy and very obedient. Like his two elder brothers, he also loves to play football.
A supportive mother
Ayomide communicates well with her children. She encourages them to be the best they could be and the children have been very obedient and supportive. Many members of the community are encouraged by the success she is attaining in her efforts to raise her children. Her children’s behaviour and performance both at school and in social settings have been well reported by teachers and observers.
From learnings and coaching she got from SOS Children's Villages, she mobilised women to form and successfully run the Alheri Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA). She is an active member of the women’s wing in both religious and political associations.
Ayomide has today become a strong voice for change in her community.
*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.