Moses Attu is the director and national coordinator of Attu Reachout Foundation. In this interview with MAKINDE OLUWAROTIMI, he talks about the importance of education among other things.
Can you tell us about your foundation?
It is a non-governmental organisation and it started as a means of paying respect to our late father who was passionate about education and helping the less privileged in the society. After his retirement, he was able to send not less than 100 children to school from his resources and after he died, we, his children thought it wise to pick it up from where he stopped and add more flesh to it. The foundation is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and has been around for the past 10 years.
You talked about helping the poor and focusing on education. How have you been able to achieve this?
Our focus, basically, is to provide support and education for orphans, the poorest of poor in the community and other African countries, starting from home. This is our way of reaching out to them. Presently, we have about 343 children on our payroll. We are paying for their tuition among other things, up to secondary school but in the future, we are looking at extending it to tertiary level.
How is your foundation different from others?
Our vision is to empower communities, women, children who are vulnerable, thereby giving them quality education through scholarship. Orphans benefit more from this because they might not be lucky enough to have an education. We also provide capacity building for youths in the society.
As a humanitarian foundation, how do you think the government can assist the poor in rural communities?
The widows, for example, there are so many widows out there that do not have anything doing and no one to take care of them. Some of them have several mouths to feed but no help, they have to start sending some of their children to go out to beg, which creates an avenue for some of them to join bad groups. I’m not saying the government is not trying, they are, but more is required in this area. We are into widow empowerment, capacity building for youths, provision of quality water supply because we noticed people die easily because they cannot access quality water. We also assist in electrification projects, medical outreach programmes, school building projects etc.
What do you think a well-planned, developed and flourishing community is supposed to look like?
A properly developed community should have improved social and economic settings- facilities like schools, hospitals, clean water, proper refuse disposal method etc. Our passion as a foundation is to improve social and economic setting of communities, women and children in the society and we also provide them educational centres, facilities, orphanages, resource centres for the less privileged in the society. We render financial assistance to the less privileged, we combat youth restiveness, promote peace.
The reason many youths are into several nefarious activities is because they have nothing tangible to do and nature abhors vacuum, so they tend to get busy with the wrong things. As a result, we train our youths to cater for themselves thereby empowering women and youths to be self-reliant, they have access to basic amenities and we promote entrepreneurship and alleviate poverty in rural communities in Nigeria, especially in Owukpa through skill development and economic empowerment for the less privileged.
We also proffer solutions to some of the social vices that concern women and children in the society through every available means including publications.
What challenges is the foundation experiencing presently?
Inadequate funding to enable us train more youths and women to be involved in entrepreneurship in aspects of business management skills. We also need funds for logistics like transportation and communication to be able to reach out to the remotest part of the communities where other non-governmental organisations or government agencies cannot reach. We want to reach the unreached and serve the unserved in the community.
Which communities specifically have you been able to impact?
I will mention a few. So far, from the last project we executed, we were able to sink about three boreholes in different communities and these areas have never had portable water but right now, they are happy they can get clean water, which would enable them to be free from cholera and other related diseases gotten through water. Isaac Michael, who is also a member of the foundation, is a witness to this. Two of the communities are Owukpa and Ogbadibo local government areas in Benue State. The next project for us is to go into medical outreach because we observed that communities, especially in rural areas, lack medical facilities and people die of minor health challenges like headache and tooth ache. We have this burden to reach out and give them the required assistance and we are reaching out to everyone with a passion for life to reach out to our foundation, either through cash or kind, to be able to assist those people that require medical facilities.
How is the foundation funded?
From our personal resources and we were able to get assistance from friends and relations to help us continue and sustain it. This is the reason we are calling out to NGOs, organisations, both local and international, the federal government to partner with us so that we can do more than we have achieved so far.
What policies would you like to be adjusted or established to assist NGOs?
We would like government to work closely with NGOs in the country because it is impossible for them to reach the remotest of communities but the NGOs can achieve it. Government should lower their policies with regard to NGOs, we need quick funding, and we should not be tasked like other companies. Some incentives should be given and government should ensure NGOs report to them on a quarterly basis so as to know how to come up with a strategy to reach every remote area in our society.
What is your view on the level of unemployment in the nation?
I mentioned earlier that we empower women and children in entrepreneurship. We have vast hectares of land that we use to engage people in organised farming where they also have access to the products. We are also planning to get more hectares of land to farm products which we can export thereby making the life of these men and women better than it is right now.
I am talking of technological farming and not the one in which cutlass and hoes are put to use. We train them on how to make use of them on the fields so they can better their lives before leaving.
Do you empower them with resources to start out on their own?
Yes, but for now we have not been able to do much in that area due to funding issues. From the products they harvest, we give them some portion to enable them feed their families. We help to keep them away from idleness because like it is said, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. As time goes on, we intend to help them access hectares of land, get them farming implements so that they can be self-reliant by selling the harvest to get cash.