With a passion for reaching out to the underprivileged and vulnerable children who have been neglected, marginalised and abandoned, either by their parents or guardians in society due to their disabilities, Tamar Homes Foundation (THF) a non-governmental-organisation (NGO), has presented a modernised recreation centre and playground for the use of the students of Modupe Cole Memorial Childcare Home, Lagos.
Started in October 1960 by the late Mrs Modupe Cole as NGO, and was later taken over by the Lagos State Government in 1979 to cater for pupils that are mentally challenged, with down syndrome, autistic, cerebral palsy, and others, the school was established in recognition of the desperate need for the physically handicapped and mentally challenged children to have an environment where they can be taught, loved and helped to live a full and normal life as much as possible.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony, held at the School Hall, Modupe Cole Memorial Childcare Home, Yaba, Lagos, which was also used to celebrate her birthday which falls on Sunday,4 June, the Chief Executive Officer, Tamar Homes Foundation, Olajumoke Rhema, stated that she has a strong passion for helping and motivating the less privileged or children living with disabilities by supporting them in the realisation of their dreams and life ambition, adding that she has resolved to celebrate every of her birthday with these special pupils.
Speaking further, “THF was established in the year 2000 as an arm of Tamar Homes, which deals with real estate in Lagos State. It specialises in giving back to society, through free medical outreaches, provision of palliatives, and provision of foodstuff to the underprivileged, so I got to know about these special schools in 2021, and we started with Atundaolu Special School, Surulere, Lagos where we started with 12 wheel chairs, and in 2022, we donated 35 wheel chairs and support chairs to them.
“So, as far as Modupe Cole School is concerned, we started in 2022 with them by refurbishing their generator set, donated fans, bed and beddings, and today, having met with the leadership of the school to find out their needs, we have presented a newly renovated playground, which was formerly in a mess before we acquired it to them”, she said.
She added, “We understand that play is essential to children as it improves their cognitive, social, and emotional wellbeing, it helps them learn well, it helps them to discover their strength and also boosts their self-confidence and self-esteem as they master challenging playground structures. The donated playground has a standard basketball court, slides, Ssings, merry-go-Rrund, relaxation place and others, and it cost us about 2.7 million to put it up”.
Also speaking at the event, a key member of the Foundation, Olamibo Balogun commended the Modupe Cole Memorial Home for the care given to the children, saying there is a need to cater for children with special needs as they are also human beings like us that needs care and attention.
In her response, the Principal, Modupe Cole Memorial Home, Mrs Abosede Iyabowale Oyeniran, said the school was elated to play host to the birthday celebrant and the chief executive officer of Tamar Homes Foundation, Olajumoke Rhema, adding that she is a lover of children with disabilities, as she has been identifying with them since 2021,when she was the principal of Atundaolu Special Home.
During the unveiling of the playground, she noted that the newly commissioned playground would not be taken for granted, as it would serve to complement the government’s efforts, adding that the visitation and the new playground will be of great help to the students, especially towards their cognitive development.
While noting the special ability status of the children from the schools, she called on the public to collaborate with the government and caregivers in developing the special abilities of children with special needs, adding that It is a big task to take care of these special kids as many of them are bedridden, many on expensive medications. “They eat a lot, some stay for a longer period in one class, as they stay two to four years in one class, and they require special attention
The majority of these students have been abandoned here by their parents as we no longer have anyone that comes around to ask of them, so we give kudos to the Lagos State Government for their effort in keeping the school running, and we also appreciate the NGOs, like, THF, who have been coming around to assist us in one way or the other.
Also speaking, Mr Isaac A. Ajani, vice-president principal appealed to other NGOs to emulate the kind gesture of THF, saying the major challenge that the scchool faces is finances. “Although the state government is trying they can’t do everything, so if not for the occasional support of individuals, groups and NGOs just like we are having today that come around to support us in one way or the other, we wouldn’t have enough resources and finance to sustain the project.
Despite the fact that we have 125 staff in the school to cater for 468 students, we are still facing the problem of shortage of staff, especially the teachers. In a normal setting, we are supposed to have a ratio of 5 pupils to 2 teachers, but we have some classes of 28 students assigned to a teacher, just like they have it in regular schools, which is not supposed to happen in a special school like this.
We have 468 students in this school, and out of these figures, 318 are abandoned, that means they have no one to ask after them because we can no longer trace their parents.
Olajumoke Rhema, chief executive officer, Tamar Homes Foundation inside the newly renovated Playground.
Olajumoke Rhema, chief executive officer, Tamar Homes Foundation (Middle), flanked by Mrs Abosede Iyabowale Oyeniran, principal (Right), and Mr Mr Isaac A. Ajani, vice principal (Left), while cutting the Ribbon to unveil the playground.
Olajumoke Rhema, chief executive officer, Tamar Homes Foundation (Middle), flanked by Mrs Abosede Iyabowale Oyeniran, principal (Left), and Mr Mr Isaac A. Ajani, vice principal (Right), and some students while cutting the Cake for the playground.