I can honestly say that my whole life has lead up to founding The Escape Charity. As long as I can remember, I have always strongly abhorred injustice, human pain and suffering.
As a young child growing up in Nigeria, my earliest memory of the inhumanity of poverty was witnessing the daily life of our neighbour’s house help, Ngozi.
Ngozi was about 9 years old when she came to live with our neighbour. She came because her parents, in the rural area, were too poor to look after her.
She worked continuously; looking after the children, keeping the house clean and washing the clothes. She desperately wanted to go to school like me but she was not given the opportunity.
I remember how helpless and sad I felt for her. Poverty deprived her of her childhood, education and the skills necessary for a future free from poverty.
I don’t know what became of her but I know that without an education it is very likely that she will bring up her children in poverty.
There are still many children in the world who cannot afford to go or stay in school due to circumstances beyond their control.
My most profound experience was when I saw, first-hand, what it meant to live in poverty. I visited a family in rural Nigeria that lived in one small room. They ate from earthenware plates, the grandmother was going blind from cataracts and her 12-year-old grandson, Chuma, had not been to school for two terms. As the sole bread winner, the mother had to juggle looking after her family and making enough money to pay for health care, school and most importantly food. Chuma told me he wanted to be a doctor so he could help his grandmother to see again. He is one of the lucky ones, with our help he can have a future, he can realize his dream and prevent other people in his community from losing their sight.
The theme of the 2015 International Women’s Day was ‘Make It Happen’ and I decided to start a charity to help as many young people as possible escape the indignity of poverty. The name of the Charity ESCAPE is an acronym for ‘empowers communities away from poverty through education.’ We aim to help young people who would not have been able to stay in school, to get an education and the qualifications necessary for them and their future generations to live a life free from poverty. With the help of my daughter, the charity was registered on the 25th of June 2015.