How best can you describe Sandra Odufaderin?
I have given my life to cater for children because it’s for the sake of humanity as far as I’m concerned. I love what I do as an OAP, because it has given me the opportunity to reach out to people. My major field is marriage and relationship on the radio, but I choose to focus more attention on children. I have been working with children for over five years.
What have been the challenges for you so far?
Basically, the challenge I face in the course of putting smiles on children is finances. It is really difficult to get people to support your ambition, especially when it’s not profitable to them. In most cases, I fund most of the programmes and projects I do for children by myself and it has not been easy. Though, I am not complaining because it gives me joy personally when children are happy.
Take for example, I have an event coming up this December which I am organising for children. I have been doing the planning all by myself. Though, some stood up to support with products but it’s not enough considering what I have in my head to project for children and the number of children in this country that deserve happiness. God has been there for me and the children though, and I’m grateful to him. People need to start seeing children’s project as not just my own but for everybody.
What triggered your passion for children?
Well, it’s not something that suddenly started, it has been from childhood. I remember when I was growing up, my parents had a house and there was a particular family that lived at the back of our residence. I used to go there and sometimes I would rather be there, taking care of the children there than go to school. Most of the children are grown-up now though and some of them are even married.
When I grew up and started going out, sometimes I see mothers carrying their children and struggling to move. I can’t count the number of times I have assisted in that instance. I assist mothers to carry their bags and sometimes accompany them to where they can get a vehicle to where they are going before I turn back to face my own journey.
When I see a child crying on the road and I’m driving, I will stop to find out why he or she is crying and in my own little way put some smiles on their faces. Sometimes I see children going through pains and I will be crying because I’m so emotional. My passion for children grew over time that when I got married, part of my traditional things were taken to orphanage home because I wanted to have my own children. That same month I got married, I conceived and had my first child in the same year I got married.
How do you feel when you see children who are abused?
As I said, I am a very emotional person no matter how strong people think I am. When I see children who suffer abuse, I just break down and cry. I remember there was a day I was driving on the road, I experienced two children who were hawking got knocked down by a car. I just had to park and cried. Those kids died on the spot. I couldn’t go to where I was going again. I went back to the house, not feeling myself all through the week. The thing is I can’t do all these alone. Recently, I went to a public school to educate the children about sexual abuse and issues. Parents don’t even care. These children were telling me how their neighbours are sleeping with them. One even came to meet me that at seven, someone had already deflowered her. I was really pained hearing all these stories.
What do you think is the cause of child abuse?
Well, I will say most of the causes are wickedness. A lot of people abuse children for ritual sake. There is more to these nonsense to me than mental issues. How can you be sleeping with a child? What satisfaction will you derive from a child? There are lot of prostitutes now … There are ladies that would even give you the sex for free… there is one happening right now that a father has been sleeping with his daughter who’s now 18-year-old since she was 10. It is just wickedness, nothing more.
And it doesn’t make sense when someone says a child is dressing and exposing her body. What do you want to see in a child? When I was growing up, my mother had eight of us and didn’t have her eyes over us like we are doing for our children now. I read the news of a ritualist plucking the eyes of a seven-year-old boy, what would you call that?
What are the plans you have for children in your forthcoming event?
I do organise event for children multiple times in a year. My purpose for the forthcoming event is to reach out to children that are just there; they deserve happiness for the yuletide period. I am organising this event for children to come out and see that there is life after just saying inside the orphanage house or the house. This year, I am looking forward to hosting no fewer than 6,000 children on the 11th of December. There is going to be a live band, we are going to launching some books because I mentor children too. This is a move to motivate other kids too and it will be very fun-filled.
What has been the impact your event has been having on children so far?
With my events, I have inspired a lot of children to bring out the best out of them. I have so far inspired songwriters, authors and they are doing good stuffs with their arts just as adults will do too. A child composed a song for me and when she was presenting it, I couldn’t help it but to cry. She was so good and lyrically credited me how impactful I have been to her despite the fact that I am not her biological mother. In my little way, I have motivated children and help them come out of their shell. All glory to God.
What about your visit to Ooni’s palace?
Yes, I visited the palace on behalf of the children and the Ooni himself is more than willing to support children. He’s willing to express his fatherly love to other children and I am grateful for that. The Ooni’s message to me for Nigerians is that every child is important and deserves to be happy.
What will be your advice for parents?
I want to enjoin parents to keep their eyes on their children at all times, most especially this festive period. A child means a lot to me and we should try as much as possible to make them safe. Children should not be abandoned for anything.
What other things would you also like to talk about?
I want to enjoin everyone as well to personalise children’s happiness. I can’t do it alone, likewise parents as well. So, everyone should make it a project of continuum to always make children happy. I can tell you confidently that if our children are happy, the nation will be happy at large.
When people say your passion for children is not for profit purpose, do you think they are right?
Yes, they are right, you can see my car na!… Sometimes I have money to change the car, I spend it on children and I am happy about it. At the same time, I am enjoining everyone and the general public to join hands with me to help the children too.