Airtel Donates to Blind Scholars

As part of its Touching Lives initiative, telecom services provider, Airtel Nigeria has made donations to two students of the Bethesda Home and School for the Blind, Surulere, Lagos.

Airtel Touching Lives is an inspiring corporate social responsibility initiative that seeks to offer practical relief, succour, hope, opportunities and credible platforms to liberate and empower the underprivileged, disadvantaged and hard to reach persons in our society.

In the 11th episode of the third season of Touching Lives, the company presented university scholarships, mobility equipment and laptop computers with voice recognition to two students of the institution.

One of the beneficiaries, Philomena Ukwueze, 30, recently scored 243 in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and has received an offer to study Guidance and Counselling at the University of Ibadan.

The other recipient, Christopher Essien, is still studying at the Bethesda school. In future, he said, “I want to be greater than Cobhams [Asuquo, the musician and record label owner].”

Chioma Evelyn, founder and headmistress of the school, said the aid package would make significant difference in the lives of her wards.

“In the school, we use shared laptops. But each of them is supposed to have a personal laptop as they leave for the university. Now you’re giving us two. These will definitely go a long way for us”, she said.

Host of Airtel Touching Lives programme, Wana Udobang, said that it is important that businesses and private citizens partner with charities and non-governmental organisations caring for disadvantaged Nigerians.

“There are 4.2 million visually impaired people living in Nigeria. With the support structures that are few and far between, when a person becomes blind, sometimes the family is unable to cope”, she said.

Evelyn said more than 90 blind young people have been rehabilitated at the centre since it was founded in 2005. “Currently, we have 85 students”, she added.

The NGO has received most of its funding from religious bodies and a few individuals, Evenly stated, and asked for more donations from those who are likely to watch the television series of Airtel Touching Lives.

“The life of blind people in Nigeria is harsh”, she said. “You see them on the streets. You see them begging because they don’t have anyone to take care of them”.

Ukuweze, a student of the blind school who lost her sight at 21 years, lamented that her family locked her in a room for six years. “I lived inside like a prisoner”, she said.

Another student, Essien, was also confined to his compound for two years and later abandoned by his family. He said, “Going blind, I felt all hope was lost. I almost committed suicide”.

Evelyn said apart from reading and writing classes, Bethesda, which provides free room and board for everyone in its care, also offers training in farming, fishery, music, craft and football, all at no cost to the trainees.

A new episode of Airtel Touching Lives will be aired this weekend on television networks across Africa, according to the Airtel Corporate Social Responsibility unit.

On Saturday, the show will run on Africa Magic Urban from 6:30–7pm and on Africa Magic Family from 7-7:30pm. Later, at 9pm, it will be broadcast on RaveTV.

The next day, Africa Magic World will have a rerun from 6-6:30pm, followed by NTA Network at 6:30, and Arewa TV at 7pm.


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