” No man can truly be called great until he has partaken in something greater than himself”, so the saying goes. Today on the blog we are talking to an inspirational woman who is doing her bit to make the world a better place by reaching out to the less privileged in the society. Olanrewaju Olayode is a teacher and school administrator who discovered her passion for children and has worked very hard since then to bring smiles to the face of less privileged kids around her. Aunty Lanre as she is fondly called is the founder of the Aunty Lanre Initiative, she is also the Co-founder of LITTLEDROPS organization, a charity foundation that specializes in reaching out to kids in poor neighbourhoods and orphanages, and which has coordinated charity projects like the NEED CENTRE, a project that provided essential items for about 100 kids in Ibadan, among many others. We talk to her about Aunty Lanre Initiative’s latest project, the Ibadan Orphanage Tour.
Well Aunty Lanre, if I may call you that, I am pleased to have you here
I am pleased to meet you too and I hope I enjoy my time talking to you.
That was two questions you asked there, but I’ll try and pick them one after the other. What the Ibadan Orphange Tour is about. The Ibadan Orphanage tour is an initiative where people have a chance to give back to the less privileged in this case Orphans. Every Saturday, starting from the 8th of August and ending on the 26th of September 2015, we will be visiting an orphanage per week, that is a total of eight orphanages for eight weeks. The event is open to anybody who wishes to participate and to make a difference in the lives of these young children. Also part of the features of the project is the fact that two popular people, celebrities if you wish, will join us on the trip to the orphanages every week, that is a total of sixteen of them. Also each trip will be between 11am and 1 pm, so that whoever has any other thing to do can be excused, because we appreciate the fact that people often have plenty of things to do on weekends. I guess that is like a summary of everything.
To your question of how this all came about as someone who is passionate about charity and charity organizations, I am constantly thinking of opportunities to help people. So on this particular day, I was in the house when I suddenly started to feel some ideas taking shape in my head. I got a pen and paper and began to write down the ideas, the more I wrote, the more it flowed by the time I finally stopped writing, I saw the vision that became this project so clearly that I knew that this was not the work of man, it was God clearly giving me instructions about what I must do. This has been my attitude towards this project since then, that no matter what happens, come rain come shine, this thing must be done. If the word has gone out, I have no choice but to obey.
You talked about some famous people in Ibadan who have offered support and promised to join you on your tour, can you tell us the names of some of them
Of course I can, but I might not be able to tell you the names of all sixteen of them, because we are still trying to fix a convenient time to suit some of them, but I can confirm that Mike Abdul, Fabulous Pizzy, Jazzy B, Midiva, Olumide Olufemi have promised that they will join us for the tour. Ronke Giwa of Splash FM and Peteru should also join us, God willing. Perhaps if you stay in touch I’ll let you know as some other famous people we are talking to give their word to be present at the event.
Wow! Great work all round, now let us talk about the event itself, you have chosen Orphanages as your focus, what are the things you want to achieve with this Orphanage Tour project? What are the the things you hope to see in the lives of the people you have visited by the time this tour ends in September?
Well it goes without saying, that I hope to help them to get some material things they lack. But more importantly I want to be able to make a difference in the values of these kids. The thing is that society does not pay much attention to orphanages, there is little or no attempt to impart important values that help in character development into their lives. Most of these kids don’t have the sense of direction which kids in stable families usually have. Some of them might have an idea of what life is about, but they don’t really know some things matter. Let me give you an example I used to visit an orphanage home every Tuesday, and whenever I gave them something I taught them to say thank you. Then i discovered that anytime I gave them anything, they would thank me. That was something they had learnt, which they regarded as important, so little things like that actually matter something as simple as courtesy could go along way in making their lives better. That is part of what we are looking to do with the Orphanage Tour.
Do you see this Ibadan Orphanage Tour as the beginning of a trend, something that will create a buzz that other people that will encourage other people to do the same thing? In other words, do you see yourself as a “trend setter” so to speak?
Yes I think so, for instance, a friend of mine recently contacted me about the tour. That and also that he needed my help in starting out a foundation to help the less privileged similar to ours. A lot of people think it is easy to do charity work because they have seen people like me do it. It looks easy for me because I regard it as something that will be done with or without human help, and so I just do it without thinking of the problems or obstacles I may face. So to your question, yes I see myself creating a consciousness in people that they need to be up and doing to make our society a better place. To add to the example of my friend that I talked about, in my church, I now have a lot of people coming to talk to me for ideas on charity organizations and doing projects and to encourage me about the work I am doing. So in a way I am unconsciously jolting people out of their seats to do more for people who dont have the essential things that they need. Because I have come to discover that deep down people have a sense of responsibility to their society, but sometimes they need someone to show them the way
Now let me bring you back to the famous people you have invited to give back to the society. the “celebrities” that you have mentioned seem to have a leaning toward the church/Christianity. Was their faith a factor in your decision to pick them for this project ?
Well firstly, They are people that I know. More importantly they are people that have the understanding of the real essence of the tour, people who will put their all into the project and not just their money, because the purpose of the tour is higher than just giving the children material things. i need people who share the same mindset that I have about this project. Let me give you an example, one of the homes I visited is run by a woman named Evangelist Aminat Something, I can’t remember her other name now. I had no way of telling whether she is a Christian or not. But the most important thing is that she has an orphanage home. That means she has the same mindset that I have and thus she is part of the people I want to work with. Moreover, these names just came to me as I thought about this project, thus I want to believe that these people were not just selected by me, they were selected by God because they have something they want to achieve with the kids they are visiting. By extension I say that every one who is interested in making a difference in the lives of kids, religious or political affiliation regardless is welcome to join us
There is no doubt that this project is a lot of work, and it involves a lot of planning. how will you cope and combine your job and your other personal affairs with this enormous project
Well first of all it is not the first time I would be doing a project of this nature so I could say I have experience in this kind of thing. So this is in a way a piece of cake for me and not the “enormous work” you seem to think it is. Secondly I have a team working on this project, they are my friends and associates, people that have the same mindset that I have about the Tour, and everyone of them have been allocated roles and they know their responsibilities. Thirdly the tour is during the August/September break, so there is relatively less work for me in the office. And finally, this is God’s own project. Yes we have made our own plans but I am not losing any sleep over how the project is going to go so no there is no strain at all.
This project is extremely laudable, but so far it seems the buzz is only on social media. Dont you think an event like this should be publicized it on traditional media like Radio or Television, for those who are interested but do not use Social media?
To that I will say now is not the time for that this is a project God has created himself it is not for my benefit, so I don’t need “validation” from human beings to get it done. So shouting it from the rooftops is not top priority for me right now. So with or without Radio or Television, God’s work will be done and that is the most important thing.
It has been really inspiring talking with you, and we hope to talk to you again about the Ibadan Orphanage Tour and your other projects
If you wish to support the project or you want to learn more about it, You can contact Lanre Olayode on +234(0) 816 6325461 she is on Twitter and Instagram @AuntyLanre or send a mail to her on firstname.lastname@example.org