If you have experienced a December in Jos Plateau Nigeria, you would agree that the feeling of winter minus snow is obtainable in Jos. Due to several cases of crises and insecurity, a lot of children go through this cold season with no sweaters or blankets to protect them. As a result, Pneumonia is one of the highest sources of infant mortality in the area. Yilchit Barde identified this and decided to start off Keep a Child Warm Support Initiative. Her story is an inspiration to do something as another December approaches and the high influx of new IDP’s as recorded in our Not All Heroes Wear Capes Series Posts for September on Dirnan Samuel, Yil Fomwul Gonsum and Nimdir Nansoh.
Hello Yilcit. Please tell us a bit about yourself
I am Yilchit Barde an indigene of Plateau state from Langtang South. I obtained a BA in Political Science from Babcock University, Ogun Lagos State. I am a focused and result-driven person. I currently work as an associate at a consulting firm. I see myself as an agent for change and would do anything I can that breeds positive change. I am also a child support enthusiast. I grew up in Jos and the weather played a key role in inspiring the Keep a Child Warm Initiative.
What prompted you to start the Keep a Child Warm Support Initiative?
The incessant crisis in Plateau state has left an increasing number of children either orphaned or displaced. The government along with several humanitarian entities have been trying to ameliorate the harsh living conditions of people in IDP camps through different interventions yet, there’s a lot to be done.
Being a strong believer in child’s rights and privileges, I felt mandated to help out in my own way. The first thing that sunk in my heart was the unique weather in Jos so I leveraged on that and thought to myself…How about meeting the immediate physical needs of vulnerable children in our community? I went ahead to speak to a few people about it and I got encouraged. It was basic – sourcing for warm clothing for children during harmattan.
It started off as “KeepAChildWarm campaign in 2016, then eventually grew into “KeepAChildWarm Support Initiative” in 2018.
What exactly does keep a Child Warm Support Initiative do?
We are a special interest organization that solely exists to raise funds for the project we themed “KeepAChildWarm” campaign in Jos (for now). As the name implies, our core objective is to cater for the physical needs of orphans and vulnerable children by providing them warm clothing, hot meals and cooking fuel during the chilly Harmattan season when temperatures typically drop to as low as 10◦c.
What is the mode of operation of the initiative? And how has the journey so far been?
We are a group of volunteers, working for a non-profit child support community project. Simply put, we don’t get paid. Yet everyone on our team is passion-driven thus, we give our best. We have identified our strengths and steadily harness our weaknesses, so far we are divided into departments:
- Media and Publicity
- Books and Records
- Mapping and Survey
- Event Coordination
Working together has been seamless for us all. We started out a group of Five and grew to a group of Seventeen in 2017 we are presently signing up volunteers in addition to the ones present for this year.
About a year ago I saw you put out a call to people to contribute via social media. How was the response and how would you gauge it and society as a whole?
Honestly, we were overwhelmed by the public response. 80% of the funds that came in was from the crowd we reached on social media. They’re a lot of kind-hearted people out there who want to impact lives but probably can’t afford the time to start their own initiative. Fortunately for me, I was unemployed in 2016 and had so much free time on my hands to make the move.
It’s very heartwarming to see that despite the hardships people face in our society today, they remain sensitive to the needs of others. Last year, we gave a breakdown of what every child needed to keep warm which includes a Blanket, Sweater, Head warmer, and Socks that totalled N1850 and to our surprise, even students were sending in donations for at least a child. Some who couldn’t afford the stated amount sent in money for one or two items on the list. It was consoling!
What have the challenges to your work been?
Our challenge starting out was public trust. Nigerians are so sceptical about supporting self/small initiatives because of the high rate of false claims and fraudsters. Our debut campaign was supported by mostly family and friends. In the second year, we shared a testimonial video on social media to buttress our genuineness which helped a great deal. And of course, everyone prefers to identify with success rather than failure.
Right now funding is our major challenge. It’s been a tough economic year for business owners and it’s affecting responses so far from sponsors, but we refuse to be deterred in our pursuit to keep more deserving children warm. We are trusting a highly positive response from the general donations this year.
Why did you choose to do the work you do at Keep a Child Warm and how much of a problem do you think the cold in Jos is?
I enjoy giving my best to impact lives in whatever ways possible. I have dedicated time and effort to this cause because I believe in the collective power of people. Our slogan “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something” exudes that. We can achieve anything together if we put our minds and of course resources into it. The weather in Jos is life-threatening especially towards children unattended due to their frail nature. Every child deserves to be protected in the harmattan season against the cold as a necessity.
How do you think the government and private individuals can solve this problem?
Individuals can support initiatives like ours to grow and reach out to a larger number of people. Plateau state government can partner with a local bioenergy company such as Meyana Bioenergy Group in Jos to design and install mini bioenergy systems (bioenergy systems are technologies that convert wastes into energy and give off valuable end-products that can raise additional income for each orphanage/ IDP home) with the capacity to sustainably provide electricity, heat and cooking fuel for these homes.
What is your vision for Keep a Child Warm? What goals do you have and what programs are we looking forward to? I’m especially concerned about the high number of IDP’s this year and Jos weather towards December – what plans does the Keep a Child Warm Initiative have?
For our campaign to have the lasting and sustainable impact desired, we acknowledge that our actions and interventions must be sustainable and replicable. Our Vision is to extend sustainable Impact on the lives of vulnerable children throughout Nigeria by replicating our Campaign in all 6 geo-political zones of the country. This year we are working in the most recent conflict-affected areas in the state. We have chosen Riyom and Barkin Ladi.
Based on our survey, our target number of 220 children in Riyom and 350 in Barkin Ladi amounts to 7.9% and 2.1% of the total number of displaced persons in the respective LGA’s. For this year’s campaign, we will be giving out the following
- Blankets N1100
- Sweaters N500
- Head warmers N200
- Socks N200
I would like to through this medium call on well-meaning individuals to contribute to this year’s campaign and give at least N2000 for one child.
What advice would you give young Nigerians out there?
Nigeria has enough problems. Don’t be a part of the problem but thrive to be the solution, channel your verbal energies into something positive and the change you want to sees will come faster than you expect.
The world is waiting for you!
How can people who read this post contribute to your large project?
You can send a direly needed donation to:
KeepAChildWarm Support Initiative
Thanks for your time Yilchit.
What’s the purpose of this series? To inspire you to contribute towards the work of these heroes and inspire you to go out and do something. And remember: NO ONE CAN DO EVERYTHING BUT EVERYONE CAN DO SOMETHING
To contact Yilcit and make further inquiries, find her contact information below:
Phone: 070736606828 or 07032610015
Insatgram – @KeepAChildWarm
Facebook – @KeepAChildWarm
Last modified: April 10, 2021