“I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way”. These famous lines from Whitney Houston are amongst the most quoted lines about Children and grooming the next – and better – generation. But how well are we actually doing to raise a better generation? How are we catering for children who have lesser opportunities? Are we doing what we can to create a level field for every child? These are important questions we all need to answer. Today on the Not All Heroes Wear Capes Series, I feature Prayer Ikegwuonu who has a passion for children. Together with her team of passionate Child Lovers, she runs the Naza Agape Foundation. Their tagline says it all – ‘Impact a Child, Impact the World’.
“I am Prayer Nwagboso Ikegwuonu, a 25-year-old Nigerian from Abia state, a graduate of Mass Communication from the Prestigious Covenant University. I am an experienced Humanitarian Aid worker with about 5 years of experience, a motivational speaker, Ambassador of Jesus Christ on Earth and the founder of Naza Agape Foundation. I lead a team of about 500 volunteers in Pakistan, Ghana, India, Cameroon, Cyprus and Nigeria; with the headquarters in Plateau state, Nigeria, that daily provide solutions to three out of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 2 – Zero Hunger, Goal 4 – Quality education & Goal 17 – Partnership for the Realization of the Goals)”
I asked Prayer to Share how the Naza Agape Foundation came into existence
“Wow, that’s an interesting question. Let me take you down memory lane. Growing up and schooling in Plateau state, I observed a lot of less privileged intelligent and promising children being denied access to basic amenities of life. These were things like education, food, good water supply, health care and others. I also saw the effect of insurgency on children and the adverse effects it leaves in its wake. A lot of children can’t go to school, most don’t have what to eat, and that pained me a lot. Even if I left home, I promised myself that I’d find ways to come back and add value to my childhood community. When I gained admission into the University, one of my major prayer points was that God blessed me with resources so I’d visit Orphanage homes when I had breaks. God answered and I did visit such homes – Alone or with my friends.
Fast forward to 2018 May. A culture in Covenant University is that every graduating set is required to embark on a worthy Community Development Project. My set came up with so many community projects. But one of the most outstanding of them all was “The Book Drive”. The Book Drive was chosen as the major project. The initiative was aimed at amassing 1 Million Books across Nigeria to impact schools in line with the United Nation’s SDG 4: Quality education. I excitedly jumped on the project because I had been praying for such an opportunity.
After the success of the Book Drive community project, there was still so much longing in me to help the less privileged. I needed more platforms to add value. My Husband (Friend then) was the first to suggest starting my own NGO since I was so passionate about adding value. After my convocation, the idea of what name to use for my NGO started coming up. So I named it Nas Foundation (the word “Nas” was coined from my tribal name “Chinaza” – while growing most people called me Nas or Naza).
When I returned home in August 2018, the Lord instructed me to go to the Geosciences IDP camp along Vom Road, Bukuru Express and check up on the Displaced Persons. I went with some donations and I noticed some needs. I noticed that there was no form of education going on in the camp. Most of the children were just running around the compound doing nothing every day aside from their morning chores. This spurred me to mobilize some of my Book Drive team members from Covenant University to join me in teaching the displaced children.
When we started teaching at the camp, we received support from my family, my husband, some educated leaders at the camp and Red Cross members. As we expanded, we made a timetable for teaching the Children and more people joined us. A lot of people supported the project from the onset. In December 2018, with the help of sponsors, we organized a Christmas party for the children. In the process of getting registered by the Cooperate Affairs Commission, my Dad and I were combing names and the name “Naza Agape Foundation” was birthed. ‘Naza’ from my name ‘Chinaza’ and “Agape” which means “God’s unconstitutional Love”.
By the Grace of God and support from many individuals, organizations and referrals, Naza Agape foundation, from the Year 2018 to 2021, has impacted about 5,000 lives across the globe. This ranges from sending less privileged children back to School, Impact Projects, Book Donation Campaigns, Project Feed 5000, Free Extra Moral classes, Clothe a Child, Christmas Programs with IDPs and many other Projects. In 2019, the Naza Agape Foundation partnered with UNESCO and SAP to train 1065 young girls and 75 teachers on coding and computer literacy.
In June 2020, a young lady from Pakistan reached out to us about her intention to start a Naza Agape Foundation project in Pakistan which would teach less privileged Children mostly street kids that can’t afford education for free. She started with less than 7 children in the month of June 2020 and by December, there were more than 90 less privileged Children receiving free quality education”
Prayer went further to explain what the Basic Goal and Intended Influence area of the Naza Agape Foundation was
“The basic goal of Naza Agape Foundation (NAF) is to ensure that NO child especially the less privileged is without quality education, good welfare and an enabling environment. NAF believes that if she trains one child properly with the right environment, quality education and good welfare, she is training a next future leader that would transform the world. Our influence area is the less privileged especially children”.
On how the journey has been, Prayer had this to say
“From rejecting so many job opportunities to sacrificing the pleasure of serving in another state for serving in Plateau state because of the Children the foundation was taking care of, I must say it has been very challenging but worthwhile. The beauty of serving humanity is that it has given me the opportunity to meet so many amazing people all over the globe. There were times I wanted to jump ship and do other things due to difficulties but God always sent support from my family, friends, ever-reliable Volunteers and children in the foundation. These have been great supports through hard times.
We have sacrificed a lot to see the foundation grow to this level and it has been God all through. Through this selfless humanitarian work, we have received some recognitions and awards. Some of them are;
- Best Use of Media, Charity/Non-Profit Campaign for the year 2020 In Plateau State at the Plateau Social Media Awards
- Winner of 2019 Enabling NGOs for Success by Union Bank
- Winner of Union Rise Challenge 2020 by Unon Bank
- Naza Agape Foundation’s work got published in United People Global as one of the NGOs supporting the less privileged during COVID19 Era.
- Founder of Naza Agape Foundation, Ms. Prayer Nwagboso Ikegwuonu Won the Beauty with Brain Global Award 2021 & the Global Change maker Award 2021 for humanity & Women Empowerment services Awarded by the Republic of Women. Won the #100Women #IWD2021 Global Contest (Nominated in the Women of the Year & Beauty on Earth International Titles) in 2021. These awards and recognition came as a result of her humanitarian activities in the foundation, and support towards women empowerment.
- Ms. Prayer Nwagboso Ikegwuonu was also recognized as one of the top women leaders changing the narrative due to her humanitarian work in Naza Agape Foundation.
These are a few of the awards God has blessed us with”.
I asked what other Challenges work on the field had opened Her eyes to
“There are so many issues in the world of the less privileged that work in the field has opened my eyes. Some are;
The level of hardship and how the Media underplays it. Going to these local communities opens your eyes to how the people barely survive. For example, when we got to the Gashish district in 2020 (one of the communities that were attacked by ‘Unknown Gun Men’ in 2018), we had been told by the media that the government fully resettled the IDPs but we saw a different reality. Most of the indigenes – more than 50 of them were all living in an unconducive community primary school. Inside those classrooms were mattresses that looked like slices of bread. There was no mosquito net, the doors and some windows weren’t good and there was no food. They were really suffering and what we took to them was insufficient.
Terrible Access Roads and isolated Communities. To access Rachis Village for our 2021 Children’s Day outreach, we had to cross a river. This is one in many cases of bad roads to local communities. The painful aspect about communities like Rachis is that there’s no light, no school, no hospital or even clinic and no bridge or road that can help them move freely. It’s a pathetic situation that needs urgent attention.
Language Barrier: We normally go on outreaches with volunteers proficient in Hausa language but there was a certain community we visited and discovered that it was only a particular kind of local dialect they could understand. We found it hard communicating with them until we discovered one of our Volunteers could speak a little of that language”.
On Challenges she and the NAF had personally faced, Prayer has this to say,
“There are so many challenges the NGO sector faces but because of time and space I’ll limit to the following;
- Little or no Support from people: People have gradually become suspicious of Initiatives because of the rapid increase in number of Initiatives and the bad rap created by the exploitation of some of these Initiatives for personal gain. This has reduced the general acceptance of genuine initiatives.
- Funding and Mentorship
- Dedicated Volunteers: Most times people sign up to Volunteer in an NGO just for the name, or just for them to receive certificates, or recommendations that they’re part of humanitarian work. These aren’t good reasons for volunteering and should be discouraged.
Finally Prayer shared her thoughts on what everyone can do to Heal the World and Support Organizations like the NAF
“I think everyone should Support local NGOs that are doing genuine humanitarian work. You may not have the money or the resources but by posting or sharing on social media, people can see and SUPPORT. Support must not always be monetary. I told someone that if I need to see the President, I don’t need to know him personally but to tap into my circle of influence. Even if you can’t donate at least you may have a skill that you can offer or a piece of advice that can help grow the organization”
Prayer’s last answer sums it all. We all have a part to play in Healing the World and creating a better world with better opportunities for disadvantaged children. We can’t all be on the field but we can support Initiatives like the Naza Agape Foundation in cash or kind. You can contact the Naza Agape Foundation on:
Phone – 08039380372; Facebook and LinkedIn – Naza Agape Foundation; Instagram – Naza_foundation; Twiter – Naza Foundation; Gmail – Nazaagapefoundation@gmail.com or visit their website at Nazagapefoundation.com
Thank you and see you next time on the NAHWC series.
Last modified: June 8, 2021