The Story of Femi: Support Gives 12-Year-Old Orphan Confidence and Motivation
Twelve-year-old "Femi" from Ekiti State, Nigeria, was orphaned in 2010 and is now living with his grandmother. Because his grandmother has no reliable source of income, Femi works at his uncle’s car repair shop after school. He earns a small daily stipend, but it isn’t enough to pay for his school fees and supplies, so Femi often attends school in an old uniform and without the required materials. Looking untidy and malnourished, Femi often feels shy, has difficulty making friends, and struggles to concentrate on his school work.
Fortunately, last year, the PEPFAR-funded, USAID project, Community Based Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CUBS), began working with a local organization in Ekiti State. When the organization’s staff learned about Femi’s situation, they immediately enrolled him into their child support program and provided him with a new school uniform, shoes, a bag, stationery, and textbooks. The organization’s Community Kids’ Club supports children like Femi and educates them about health and social issues including personal hygiene, HIV prevention, and self-esteem building. Femi’s participation in the club’s football games, dance competitions, and drama performances has improved his social skills and confidence. CUBS also trained Femi’s grandmother in caregiver skills that have enabled her to provide him a more balanced diet and effective emotional support.
Femi now has the supplies, knowledge, and confidence he needs to successfully complete his education. “All my life, I never carried a bag to school, and my uniform looked tattered. Today I am happy because I have a brand new school uniform and sandals, and my own bag and writing materials. Thanks to CUBS for adding value to my education and life,” he said.
Femi’s grandmother is also grateful for CUBS’ support. “Femi has always been eager to go to school, but getting him a new uniform and other school materials was a big challenge for me. Thanks to CUBS, I now have peace of mind,” she said.
CUBS, a five-year project led by Management Sciences for Health in 11 of Nigeria’s 36 states, improves the well-being of vulnerable children by providing integrated psychosocial, nutritional, and educational support, as well as health care, protection, shelter, and caregiver training. Since the project began in 2009, CUBS has supported 38 community organizations to reach over 38,000 vulnerable children.
Last year, CUBS’ support enabled the organization in Femi’s village to enroll 40 children into its care program.
Dolapo Daramola is an intern with CUBS. Zimuzo Onyeador is a communications intern with MSH Nigeria.
*Names of individuals in this story have been changed to protect their privacy.