By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
Worried by the challenges faced by illegal migrants in the desert, the Society for the Reconciliation of Nigerians in Diaspora (SORENID) said it would focus on family and religious leaders to enlighten Nigerians at the grassroots.
Speaking during end of year dinner in Abuja, SORENID founder, Sir Uche B. Okafor said the target could help sensitize many youths across the country.
“We will focus on family to take the campaign to where we believe is the root cost of this illegal migration. We are also going to engage religious leaders and individuals to research and write on the 26 A-Z keys to a blissful family. These books when published, will be shared to many young Nigerians to understand the values of their families.
He said the NGO currently has three books to its credit; Europe by road, curbing the root causes of illegal migration and the latest one on Xenophobia.
He said the books were shared to Nigerians free to enable them know the legal means of traveling abroad.
“I wrote the book as a way of advising Nigerians and our advocacy to tell Nigerians how these things are done; who does them, the dangers and others so that they cannot fall victims. This is because I have seen a lot of people who have been deceived to go to Europe. We want students and youths to get these books so that they can know the dangers and also know how to travel the right way. We are giving the books free and we are looking for people who will help us print more copies to give out to people so that they will not be deceived by these trick stars.
We are not stopping people from traveling. We are educating them on what they must do to travel the right way. We are against them traveling by road to Europe. It is always to have a skill so that you can be useful to yourself when you finally travel the right way to the country of your choice. I have staff who are training people on various skills to make them useful. It is important for people to know how to do something, instead of selling their organs for money.”
While speaking about the challenges faced by emigrants, SORENID boss said Nigerians faced various challenges while traveling through the deserts.
“There are stories we do hear of those who travelled through the desert. We learnt that many of them died as a result of the stress, lack of water and different unbearable things they encountered in the desert. The stories are not pleasant that is why we always adviced our young people to travel the right way. But for those Nigerians I met in the places I served, many of them had psychological illnesses, psycho somatic I called it. There are many parents who sent their children out when they still need parental care. These children when they get there, the society rejects them because of cultural differences; and when that rejection gets whole of them, they ended up becoming deviants, checking in to hotels and later become problem to the society. But as someone handling students, I was able to help some of them. There were some who would come requesting for identification card that showed they were above 18, so that they could attend clubs and other things which they thought were the necessary things of life. In this process, I would sit them and advice them on what to do, telling them that the time was not right for the life style they wanted to embark on. Some ended up graduating while some dropped out of school. They would deceive their parents that they were in school, but they were busy pursuing something else with their friends.
Speaking on why he set up the NGO, the diplomatic said “By nature, I was called to help people. When I was serving, I used to help those people with challenges and victims of crisis that I came across. The NGO which I founded, Society for the Reconciliation of Nigerians in Diaspora (SORENID), was meant to assist some of these victims and help them to be better people in the society. When I came back, I started the NGO proper with skills acquisition Centre. I also have an institute where I teach them business ideas so that they can help themselves. I believe a lot in giving out to those in need. Whenever I see young ones wasting, I try to create something to help them. I have seen a lot in the countries where I served and I want to help our people at home to get the best that life can offer.
“We are working on an acronym known as ITEM: We identify these Nigerians and arrange various talent hunt programmes in various fields. We search to get the best comedian, best musician best artist and best in other fields. We also train, empower and mentor them. We follow closely their activities and improve in areas they need to work on. We also have skills acquisition programme for youths. Recently we spent over 500 thousand Naira to empower youths after training them.
“The beneficiaries were people in dire need of help. We had over 20 beneficiaries who were trained by this NGO with different skills. We will continue to assist as many people as we can.The selected beneficiaries were in need of help. They have no one to cater for them. We took them in because of our desire to help the society and give people a sense of belonging, and make them feel important in the larger society. It has always been my passion to help other people and I am very happy doing it.
“We know that if we hand over the money to them, they might not use it effectively; that is why we gave them these machines to enable them start their own various businesses and expand as time goes on. It is always important to have a skill especially now that there is no job. We are also encouraging graduates to ensure that they have one or two skills that could assist them in life incase the job they are looking for is hard to come by. We believe in giving them a brighter future that is why we design these programmes for them.
Speaking on the challenges facing the NGO, he said “It has not been easy because I have been using my personal money to run the programmes. I just retired and it is not easy working with people who believe they can get money immediately they start. Most Nigerians are not patient enough; they want quick money and you can’t get the best under this atmosphere. However, there are some who are helping me to make this a reality. I am happy with the few people on ground who believe in what we are doing. Also, once in a while when people come around and see what we are doing, they used to assist us.”
He called on government to allow NGOs to go in to the villages because these are where the recruitments are being done; school, NYSC camps and other places must be targeted by NGO’s.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator of SORENID, Oliver Nwodoh, who was also a victim of illegal migration, said, “We are not stopping people from traveling. We are educating them on what they must do to travel the right way. We are against them traveling by road to Europe. It is always to have a skill so that you can be useful to yourself when you finally travel the right way to the country of your choice.
“I have staff who are training people on various skills to make them useful. It is important for people to know how to do something, instead of selling their organs for money.”
He called on young Nigerians to be useful to themselves instead of traveling to be slaves in other countries.
On her part, V.P Academics Government Secondary School Airport, Mrs. Onwuka S. Ngozi, harps on the need for education.
She said education is important because young Nigerians are deceived on daily basis to travel abroad.
“It is unfortunate that some of our youths are interested in quick money. It is this quest for quick money that usually forces them to embark on the perilous journey.
Let’s be patient and pray to God for His Will to be done in our lives.