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Airtel, through its Touching Lives philanthropic programme, has come to the aid of a struggling non-governmental organisation, Child Rights Brigade (CRB), whose purpose is to rescue abandoned and abused children in Lokoja, Kogi State.
In the second episode of Airtel Touching Lives season three, Esther Aniagwu, a victim of child abandonment and domestic violence, suddenly finds herself homeless, motherless, and helpless. But in an unusual lucky break, a total stranger rescues her. This Good Samaritan, Destiny Adejo, is the founder of CRB and a survivor of sexual abuse.
For three years, charity has provided a sanctuary for molested children in its community and, so far, it has helped 10 children. According to Destiny, six of these kids have become “very successful.”
Yet, if Esther’s case will serve as a guide, saving these youngsters is often an uphill task for the charity, especially because Destiny finances her work with the profits from her homemade soap and shampoo enterprise. Her income is rarely enough to feed, clothe, and put the kids through school. And when the kids fall ill, it takes the generosity of a doctor friend of hers to get them treated.
So for her indefatigable work in social advocacy and entrepreneurship, Destiny becomes a perfect candidate for an Airtel Touching Lives intervention. At the end of the episode, she receives exactly that, becoming an extremely grateful beneficiary of the Airtel Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project.
Esther, who at 18 has blossomed into a well-spoken and well-mannered young lady, also receives help from the telecommunications giant. For the teenager, considering the hardship she has had to endure, this denouement is bittersweet.
In the episode, Esther recalls how, having recently watched her mother die of an undiagnosed illness, she resorted to panhandling. One afternoon, exhausted, she lay down on the ground and fell asleep in an open market. It was here that Destiny found her, and so began the arduous journey to rehabilitation for the orphan.
“The day I met Aunty Esther was the best day of my life. God had seen my heart and answered my prayers and removed me from the street,” she says.
Destiny confirms that Esther “was frightened, traumatised, and felt rejected.” But it is a behaviour Destiny understands quite well. “Children that are being abused feel rejected and don’t feel loved. They don’t have emotional feelings and once someone doesn’t have that kind of feeling, they become a nuisance to the society. Our duty is to bring them back to where they were before,” She says.
She consistently counselled the girl, helping her see that “there’s life after [all] this.”In the meantime, she taught Esther how to make liquid soap and shampoo, and then got her trained as a barber.
Now, Esther has passed her secondary school examinations and is getting ready for the university. When she gets there, she intends to run a barbershop on the side. “After my lectures, I can make some money and from there, I’ll start a life,” she says.
This dream of hers is possible because Airtel has promised to rent a shop for her for one year. As for Destiny, she will receive a supply of soap and shampoo ingredientsandN1m in cash.
The episode also checked in on Samuel Ufot, the orphan from season one whose sister received a hairdressing salon from Airtel. Today, Samuel and his two sisters are still thankful and are optimistic for the future.
According to the Airtel CSR unit, Airtel Touching Lives returns this week on television networks across Africa.