Knowing the importance of a sane society, Adewunmi David Adetona and his three friends came together to empower young people and widows using different genres of the arts.
Based in Lagos, the group, Ark of God Humanitarian Outreach, aims at reducing poverty and crime in the land.
Conscious that it is better to teach a man how to fish than to give him fish, the group employs different genres of the art such as filmmaking, visual art, cuisine, fashion designing and others to equip these less privileged young ones, arm them to fend for themselves and contribute their quotas to the society.
Why arts and filmmaking?
“They are some of the areas young people love so much and we use it to get their attention and also identify where their passion lies,” he remarked.
Continuing, he said: “We have through this medium identified those that would want to act, play music, draw and another aspect of entertainment and have handed them to the right people to groom at our own expense.
“When you talk of poverty; young people are more at the bottom rung of the ladder. They have to be properly catered for so that they are not lured into crime,” he said.
It is in this light that the group has to structure its programmes to meet their needs and other less privileged groups such as widows and teens.
Formally known as the Ark Humanitarian Outreach, Adetona revealed that the name was altered at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) during registration, saying Nigerians should partner with not-for-profit organisations to catch the youths now they are still pliable to bend so that they don’t become willing tools for crime and criminals.
“We go out to look for them, meet and engage them to know areas we can be of help to them. We counsel them on the need to be empowered with skills. We also offer financial supports to some of them, especially as business startups or to take care of their pressing needs like house rents,” he said.
According to the social reformer, a lot of the country’s youths are poor and not financially empowered because of the inequitable distribution of resources in society and the failing global economy. He observed that government alone cannot handle all the issues in the country, saying good-spirited people should either support their group or form theirs to make society a better place for all.
Adetona noted that such efforts would enable young people and widows to grow in the arts, establish small businesses and be self-reliant rather than depending on alms.
“We equip them with skills including, filmmaking, photography, shoemaking, fashion designing, baking and others. We encourage them to go into small-scale business and also to pick up paid jobs, where they cannot be on their own,” he remarked.
Calling on youths leaving the shores of the country’s to have a rethink, saying going abroad for greener pasture is not the best solution, Adetona said the wealthy people of today started small and that you do not need to be in crime to survive.
Disclosing that running a not-for-profit organisation is not a child’s play, Adetona said he and his friend sacrifice their incomes to fund their programmes.
“We are four partners, one in the UK and others in the country. We go out of our ways to raise fund to make things happen. While we do this, we still look forward to seeing individuals and corporate organisations join us to make society a better place for all of us,” he said.
Like other outfits that embark on the one-off programme, Adetona disclosed that theirs is consistent, especially as the people who need the training are available and ready to partake in it.
As a strategist, he noted that his organisation does a follow-up; monitor the mentees and widows to make sure they do not abuse the privileges given to them.
Apart from paying school and examination fees as well as fund the empowerment programmes, Adetona revealed that his outfit still engages counselors to guide the teens in secondary schools on the choice of subjects to choose and courses to embark on in the tertiary institutions, the youth on how to be focused in life and on the widows never to give up on hope and to move on in life at the demise of their better halves.
Disclosing that the needy are in all climes, Adetona said he was shocked to his marrow when he saw indigent people in the streets of London during his school days in Europe and touched by their plight, he joined the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help save young people and impact life generally.
“I still have the records of my contributions. As a student, I was donating five pounds monthly to UNICEF. Returning to Nigeria, I called my friends and we set up the NGO to replicate what we were doing in the UK. We meet from time to time, hold conferences to appraise what we have done and look for new ways to help people,” he said.