Walking for health, educational advancement of young Nigerians
Only a mother would know the joy I felt to see Aliyu walk again.” This statement was made last year in Abuja by Mrs. Sharetu Usman, mother to then three-year-old Aliyu Usman, a beneficiary of prosthetic limbs from Stanbic IBTC as well as an Educational Trust Fund from the financial institution. Aliyu had lost a limb to an accident. Indeed, the elation was plain to see as Mrs Usman pranced about during the Stanbic IBTC Together 4 A Limb charity walk to raise awareness for limbless underserved children.
Since the 2015 launch of the Together 4 A Limb initiative, the bank has helped to change the course of the lives of little Aliyu and 19 young Nigerians who have suffered limb losses. The signature corporate social investment initiative of the financial institution was formally launched on December 2, 2015. It was preceded by a charity walk on November 14 that year, flagged off by Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, wife of the Lagos State governor, who commended Stanbic IBTC for its laudable Corporate Social Investment Projects, particularly in the area of education. Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, Yinka Sanni, had said at the launch three years ago that the adoption of the Together 4 A Limb as its flagship CSI initiative stemmed from the fact that it addressed the financial institution’s three cardinal CSI objectives of health, education and economic empowerment.
“We focus on three CSI pillars which are Health, Education and Economic Empowerment. We also work in partnership with the communities in which we operate by employing a research-based approach to understand the deeper socio-economic needs of these communities,” Sanni said.
Indeed, by focusing on the provision of prostheses, the financial institution had touched on a profound area of need and is able to address its three CSI pillars in one fell swoop. By committing to provide artificial limbs for beneficiaries until they are 18 years effectively takes care of their all -round healthcare needs. Such commitments help to give the beneficiary children access to quality medical facilities they otherwise would not have been able to afford.
The average lifespan of a prosthesis is three years and to fit the artificial limbs, a comprehensive health check is often required. What this means is that the children are exposed to regular medical checks and the state of their health becomes paramount. Stanbic IBTC equally opened a N1.5 million education trust fund for each of the children fitted with prostheses, thus exposing them to quality education.
By addressing the children’s healthcare and educational needs, the Bank has greatly reduced the financial burdens on the parents, which will help empower them economically. With less worries on the health and education needs of their children, parents are able to conserve the family income and deploy such for other useful needs. “We feel particularly passionately about this initiative knowing that we are able to take off the burden from parents and we will change the prostheses regularly until the children are 18. Our long term goal is to help these children reach their possible potential,” Sanni added.
Perhaps of greater importance is the yearly charity walk by Stanbic IBTC to help raise awareness about the need to support the vulnerable in society, the indigents and the youth, particularly limbless children who are often stigmatized and treated as if they are less human than the full-limbed children.
While accurate figure is not available, estimates put the population of limbless individuals in the country at roughly 20 million, of mostly children and young adults. According to the International Society for Prosthetists and Orthotics, “There are no standard figures as to how many amputees or orthotics users there are in Nigeria.”
What this means is that the figure could be less or more than the estimated 20 million. In any case, the growing population of amputees, driven by the insurgence in the north and a culture of reckless driving, is enough cause to worry and require massive focus. For instance, little Aliyu was an unfortunate victim of a careless tricycle driver.
By contributing to creating awareness of the plight, Stanbic IBTC envisages a better understanding of the condition, the causes, management and even preventative initiatives by both individuals and governments. Above that, better understanding will no doubt remove the associated stigma and the psychological damage that could have on the physically challenged.
This year’s walk on October 28 witnessed a new set of beneficiaries for prostheses and education trust funds. “Through the provision of prostheses and education trusts to indigent children who have suffered limb losses, we are assisting young Nigerians to enable them get on with their lives in a productive manner,” Sanni said. Themed, “Just another way of moving you forward,” the event witnessed a massive turnout of participants wearing Stanbic IBTC’s deep blue corporate colours, walking a distance of eight kilometres.
This year’s walk, unlike the previous two that covered three kilometres each, stretched for eight kilometres, to further raise public consciousness. The eight-kilometre charity walk took longer to navigate, took in more neighbourhood/people, and generated more publicity.
Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, who flagged off the maiden edition of the walk in 2015, commended the bank for its “diligence” and “responsible approach” to corporate social investments and pledged the Lagos State government’s support for the initiative. According to wife of the Zamfara State governor, Hajiya Asma’u Yari, who represented Nigeria’s First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, at last year’s walk in Abuja, “I feel honoured to be a part of this wonderful cause. Reaching out and helping children with limb losses and giving them a new life to become worthwhile individuals has gone a long way to show that Nigeria is indeed ready for change.”
Understandably, young Aliyu’s mother was effusive with praises at what she saw as a positive contribution to the son’s life. “I say thank you to Stanbic IBTC. If not for them, how would I have been able to afford prosthesis? He (Aliyu) would probably have started having back pains and we would be running from one hospital to the other,” she said, and added, “If more organisations can come out like this, lives of children and parents would be better. So, I truly appreciate them. They are doing a wonderful thing.”
The charity walk will continue to define Stanbic IBTC’s social responsiveness and desire for prosperous citizens and nation. The walk is emblematic of the financial institution’s tagline, which promises to move people forward, in their personal and business lives. The twin tactics of health and education for the children help to build their bodies and minds in a way to benefit the children as well as the society.
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