Adedolapo Osuntuyi is the founder and president of Dolly Children Foundation, a non-governmental organization focused on improving the plight of indigent children in Nigeria through Education; emphasis on quality education for all.
She is a fellow of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), West Africa Regional Centre, a US Government Initiative. The desire to start a foundation like this came in secondary school after reading her classmate’s story featured in a newspaper; during the anniversary of the NGO that took care of her from childhood.
This story, as well as other close experiences, motivated Adedolapo to start Dolly Children Foundation (DCF) on April 13, 2006, during her undergraduate years at the University.
Adedolapo graduated from the prestigious University of Central Lancashire, Preston UK, with a masters degree in Child Health & Social Care. She obtained an Africa – America Institute Scholarship to study Social Sector Management Course at the Enterprise Development Centre, Pan – Atlantic University.
She has gained experience in child protection, early childhood and community development programs and over 5000 children in 22 communities have benefitted through various interventions of the organization.
Tell us about Dolly Children Foundation
Dolly Children Foundation (DCF) is an organization with the mission of improving the plight of indigent children in Nigeria through Education.
Our main interventions are targeted towards eliminating child illiteracy in rural communities, reducing child labor, and abuse as well as absenteeism in public primary schools.
We do this by providing a conducive environment for learning, empowering educators, empowering less privileged children.
What has been achieved so far?
The foundation has reached out to over 6000 children through the following interventions:
- Reading Clubs
Our weekly reading club meetings which hold in the public primary schools and the communities we serve. Children are encouraged to read at least a book per term. Also, they are expected to learn new words, act drama, compose and develop their own thoughts from every book read.
The reading materials and educational activities carried out in the clubs are initiatives that inspire excellence, leadership and increase their literacy abilities.
This initiative has resulted in a marked improvement in the interest of children towards reading and has improved their ability to express themselves.
- Sponsorship Programmes
The Sponsor A Child program has assisted children whose parents lack the financial backbone to support their schooling. I must say here that most of the children we sponsor have either lost a parent or both or are caregivers to their parents. Before our intervention, these children were unable to access desired and quality education which hindered their learning processes. Over the past year, DCF has provided sponsorship inform of educational aid and welfare to these children.
- Back To School Initiative
Basic educational tools, school uniforms, shoes, bags etc have been provided to children with financial needs by the Foundation.
The initiative has also helped in bringing out – of – school children back to school by covering tuition fees, and needs.
This has helped to motivate over 5000 children to go back to school, as well as boost their confidence, and participation in school activities.
- Training and Workshops for Public Primary School Teachers
In the past year, over 70 teachers and still counting have been trained in DCF workshops. Workshops and training sessions are organized for teachers to bring them up to date on 21st-century teaching methods.
These workshops have focused on topics like Numeracy made easy, 21st-century teaching methods, phonics, understanding your learner, managing diversity in your classroom e.t.c
- After School And Summer School Tutoring Programmes
Our extra tutoring programmes which are available after school and during the summer break is targeted to help children from low – income backgrounds that are lagging behind academically.
Our motive behind these interventions is to engage the children in academic exercises that would effectively improve their academic performance, reduce child labor, and child abuse. Child laborers, street children, and dropouts have especially benefitted from this program since inception.
- School Building Projects
School rebuilding is a project we took on from 2015 where we refurbish public primary schools with dilapidated structures.
We move into these outdated facilities to upgrade and equip them with the necessary educational materials and infrastructures. Thus far, a block of four classes, a staff office, library, and store have been built from scratch.
The project estimates to provide a healthy learning environment for over 1000 children by the end of 2018.
The bottom line here is that no child should be left behind. Our approach to these interventions is a holistic one whereby children lagging behind in school would catch in our reading clubs, if they are not catching up in the reading clubs, they would catch up in our after-school and summer programs, if they still need support, they would get it through our back to school initiatives.
What do you enjoy the most about running the foundation?
I enjoy seeing smiles on the faces of children who never thought their dreams of being supported through school would be a reality. These are one of the cores that motivate me to do more.
What relationships/partnerships have been instrumental in growing the foundation and what other partnerships do you hope to develop for more impact?
Relationships with friends, mentors, colleagues, and acquaintances have helped the foundation in growing thus far.
This has also linked the foundation with interesting and wonderful partnerships. I will always be grateful for platforms such as Enterprise Development Center (of the Pan – Atlantic University), Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) RLC West Africa for every value-added knowledge gained so far.
I aim to explore new funding, training and partnership opportunities in the social space that would enable the foundation to produce more impacting success stories. Connecting with other NGOs through mentorship is something that is dear to my heart.
What challenges do you face running the foundation?
A major challenge I face in running the foundation is the belief system of some community members. You can imagine how tasking it can be to convince a guardian to allow award continue schooling in respective of the challenges being faced on the home front.
So far, the foundation has handled a good number of cases like these with incredible success stories. A challenge I also face is the bureaucracy on the part of agencies and regulatory bodies. It’s not a walk in the park to get approval for the kind of work we do.
I have had moments when I felt like giving up but tenacity gave me the strength to move forward.
What’s next for Dolly Children foundation?
Dolly Children Foundation aims to scale up her educative support interventions to 20 new communities in the next 5 years. We intend to get more support from volunteers and partners to achieve this milestone.
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