We started to care for the disabled as far back as 1990. In the year 1992, Chief Mrs. Orduh discovered, applied her skills as educationist, and began to teach a group of homeless disabled boys numbering about 50 (fifty) , basic literacy in a shelter in a car park on Lagos island where they lived. Many of the boys contracted polio in childhood causing lower limb disabilities. They had to beg alms to survive in the local community, weaving in and out of the Lagos traffic on their skateboards. The teaching was made easy when some of her teacher friends joined her in Car Park IV to educate these boys. At first we were in the open air and later A. C. Foods allowed us to use their generator house for classes. They were grouped into five and each group received lessons once a week.
In 1996, Friends of the Disabled was given the defunct and dilapidated NRC Secretariat, in Oja-Oba, Lagos Island through Lagos Island Local Government.
It is through the generosity of National, International, Individuals and groups, Corporate Bodies and Embassies that this place was refurbished as it is today.
This place provides safe, haven for the boys and girls and from which the Vocational Centre was developed. In 1999, the Vocational Training was opened providing the opportunity for the disabled and non-disabled persons to learn practical skills for use in the employment market/establishment of business. The students choose trades ranging from metal work and fabrication to tailoring, bead making, Shoe making and Computer.
The care and help for the disabled and the disadvantaged persons was an inspiration ever before Chief Mrs. Orduh met the disabled street boys in Lagos. She came in contact with them through buying a tricycle they built. It was a big surprise to her that such young boys were not educated. They have been denied the opportunity to develop the enormous wealth of talents, intelligence and humour she found in them. The Organisation’s belief is that all people are created equal and have the right to dignity, respect, self reliance and independence. Friends of The Disabled was established to help the disadvantaged in the society, whether disabled, poor or elderly, through self help empowerment and development that gives self esteem.
Through tailoring, shoe making to carving, cane works and poultry. As the years roll by, different groups made different choices of trades and that gave rise to the dropping of woodworks and carving in preference to bead making and computer. We take contracts in metal works as well as building tricycles, skate boards and crutches for the students and for sale. We also provide quality footwear that competes very well in the business world. The money raised helps to sustain the Centre and also offers positive incentives to producers.
All students are encouraged to attend literacy classes in the evenings. They need to communicate effectively in English and also compute simple numerals in order to survive the business sector of skill acquisition. Those on continuing Education have special period to have their lessons without clashes with Vocational training periods.
The Centre does not feed the students daily now, but gives out food stuffs as donors provide. The Centre also provides support and guidance to those in need.
To reflect these developments, a Volunteer joined us in 1999 as Project Coordinator for two years and trained a counterpart to replace him. In 2002 another VSO served with us for one year. An Administrative officer, a disabled manages the Computer Section now and impacts his knowledge to others who equally becomes computer literate. The disabled girls have had their place since 2001. They need skill acquisition and education more than non-disabled girls to take care of themselves now and in future.
Achievements (1996 – 2006)
We have helped five of the disabled secure jobs in Federal, State, Local Governments respectively, and companies including those we did not train. Our Vocational and Educational Centre has structures, equipment and tools that stand the test of time. All groups trained in each trade have been given equipment and tools for their self employment/business ventures. A disabled lady is in charge of a business outfit established in Obowo Local Government Area of Imo State for income generation and training for both the disabled and non-Disabled youths.The Education Section has successfully prepared four sets of nine students from the continuing Education, who sat for G.C.E. in 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2005 respectively. Only one had his result ceased. The least passed, had three credits and two passes while others had four or five credits including English and Maths. Two of the disabled with academic skills are currently in higher Institutions of learning, University of Lagos and Bayero University respectively. One of the two is among the boys picked from the Car Park IV in Marina Lagos. We have successfully integrated the hearing and speech impaired youths in our computer, tailoring and shoe making sections respectively while their presence has facilitated sign language hearing in the Centre.
Note: We will update this section with our achievements from 2007 to date, soon.
Those trained between 2006 and 2007 were settled with tools and equipment (pictures with captions) included. The two in the University of Lagos and Bayero University respectively have graduated . One of them , Mr. Chukwuma Eze, came out as an Accountant while Abass had a degree in Public Administration. Mr Gaius Okechukwu who came to us as a youth Copper for shelter and help (Hearing and speech impaired) was sustained in the Centre for a good period of time to allow him finish Copper Service and find job. He now works with First Bank PLC and is Married with three children. Gaius continues to show gratitude to the Centre in cash and kind and visits the Centre with his family as a way of giving back. We are grateful to him.
In 2008 a total of fifteen were admitted mainly for Mass literacy and continuing education with few interested in tailoring and many more in shoe and leather works. We were at this when our proposal and discussions of Partnership with MTNF started and by November 2009 we commissioned forty-five students to learn tailoring and fashion design, Welding and Fabrication, Shoe making and Leather works as major /core subjects Sponsored by MTNF. Computer for those who can read and write are included as minor course but browsing and internet activities are based on interest and ability. This forty-five graduated in July 2011 and were rehabilitated with equipment and tools as usual.
MTNF went into a second phase of Partnership with Friends of The Disabled (FOTD) in September 2011 to train fifty youths with disabilities . This has been done and their graduation took place on the 30th of August 2013. All the forty six that graduated got their tools and equipment instantly. FOTD demonstrated competence in discipline, Management of scarce resources and Administration and was able to save N40,000 (Forty Thousand Naira Only) for each student of the second phase to help them in rehabilitation and transportation of their equipment and tools. The saving came from the stipend of N8,000 (Eight Thousand Naira only) upkeep given to each student monthly by MTNF.
Fish farm is now one of our Core courses . We can breed and rear catfish to table size. We are Partnering with Institute Of Oceanography and Marine Research, Victoria Island in fish farming. MTNF started us with four tanks, followed by SNEPCO(Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company) with eight tanks and FADAMA 111 with three tanks. A total of fifteen tanks and we are working towards fifty-sixty tanks for more income generation, rehabilitation and jobs for youths with disabilities.
New students are now recruited for training in their choice of trade. Our partnership with MTNF is over. We call on kind hearts and concerned Citizens to help FOTD and the parents of these less privileged groups to become useful part of the Society.
In our field work ( Home-based) technic in Obowo Local Government Area of Imo State, FOTD partnered with Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Youth Development to train ten youths with disabilities in ;Tailoring,Grinding Vulcanizer work and Hair dressing. We are grateful to Women Affairs for providing the training costss and the tools and equipment to all of them in their choice area.
By 2012 The Executive Director of FOTD was elected A NAIJA DIAMOND by Inspire Africa which was sponsored by Diamond Bank. Naija Diamonds are social Entreprenures that solve social problems or handle things in an extraordinary way to bring positive impact on people and Community. It likened to CnnHeros. Special People Organisation (SPAN) also gave an Award to FOTD for the wonderful and relentless work it does to the less privileged Youths in Nigeria.
By 2009 FOTD started spreading sign language in primary and secondary schools in Nigeria through Club formation Courtesy GFC. Today a good number of children and youths in Nigeria can communicate with the hearing and speech impaired. Read more in our events .
We will replicate what we have in Lagos DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY to other parts of the country. Influence and Breed a New Generation of Nigerians with Sign Language Skills for communication and Integration of people with Hearing and Speech impairment into the main stream of the Society. We have started sign language with Youth Corpers in Lagos State and hope to spread it to other States.