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Olive Blooms Orphanage shines as a beacon of hope in our community, fostering positive change and providing much-needed support for children in need. Founded in 2007 by Mrs. Ngozi Udochukwu with a mission “to advance the care of vulnerable children from institutionalized care to family-based care under God-fearing, responsible and loving parents.” What sets this NGO apart is its stated commitment to holistic care, recognizing that these children require more than just basic necessities. By creating a safe and loving space, the orphanage is dedicated to nurturing the emotional and physical well-being of the children in its care, and with the focus on holistic care, the orphanage aims to provide an environment that promotes their overall health, personal growth, and eventual integration into society.
To truly understand the profound impact Olive Blooms Orphanage has on the lives of the children it serves, I was granted the rare privilege of speaking with the director herself, Mrs. Ngozi Udochukwu. In our interview, the proprietor eloquently shared how she conceived the idea behind the orphanage, the challenges the organization faced in the early stages, the personal journeys of some of the children under their care, how they are raising funds in these challenging times and lots more.
According to the proprietor, founding Olive Blooms Orphanage was an unexpected turn guided by a divine calling. As a professional with ambitions to reach the pinnacle of her profession, she had envisioned a different path. However, she had her kids a little later and in the midst of her waiting, she promised God that she would adopt a child if blessed with the opportunity of mothering her own children. She was blessed with two kids and while pregnant with her third, she recalled her vow. This led her to a realization that her mission wasn’t just to adopt one child, but to help abandoned babies find loving homes. Answering this divine calling was not an easy decision, but with the encouragement of her family and loved ones, she courageously embraced her new purpose. Thus, Olive Blooms Orphanage was born with a unique vision and a clear mandate: to place every child that comes into their care into a home. As a result, Olive Blooms acts as a transitory point for these children, ensuring their journey leads to a loving and permanent family. With Mrs Udochukwu’s professional background, she was able to navigate the complexities involved in establishing the orphanage and ensuring the children’s welfare.
In her recollection, the early years of Olive Blooms Orphanage were punctuated by a series of significant challenges. From navigating government approvals to building a reputation and assembling a dedicated team, Olive Blooms faced numerous obstacles on its path to providing a safe haven for vulnerable children. One of the primary hurdles was obtaining approval from the Lagos State government‘s Ministry of Youth and Social Development. The journey towards securing this approval was crucial in establishing the orphanage’s credibility and legitimacy. In the initial months after its establishment, Olive Blooms faced a unique obstacle: no children were sent to the home for about six months after it was set up because at the time, the Police force were responsible for sending children to orphanages. Later on, a change in policy shifted that crucial responsibility to the Ministry. As a startup organisation, Olive Blooms also grappled with the challenge of establishing its identity and gaining recognition in the community. With initially limited visibility and resources, the team had to take on multiple roles and responsibilities themselves. Additionally, finding dedicated staff members who shared the same vision and commitment to loving and caring for the children was another obstacle. The team experienced turnover in the early stages, seeking individuals who understood the importance of treating each child with love, affection, and kindness. However, over time, Olive Blooms found stability and formed a cohesive staff of 8 consisting of a nurse to attend to the medical needs of the children, a social worker to provide emotional support, a chef to prepare nutritious meals, a driver to facilitate transportation, and two security guards to ensure safety. Additionally, two caregivers play a vital role in providing day-to-day care, offering love, attention, and guidance to the children.
“Fortunately, I don’t have an idle board; I have a very active board,” affirms Udochukwu. This statement exemplifies the engagement and commitment of the Board of Trustees in driving the mission of the orphanage forward. Led by Reverend Tetteh Mensah, a Christian minister at RCCG Jesus Sanctuary Masha and spiritual mentor, the Chairman of the Board plays a vital role in decision-making and policy development. Additionally, Reverend Mensah serves as the signatory to the account, ensuring financial accountability and transparency within the organisation.
Mr Lanre Oke serves as the Treasurer of the Board, he oversees the financial aspects of Olive Blooms. Mr. Oke is responsible for approving invoices and ensuring the responsible management of funds. The Treasurer’s contributions play a pivotal role in maintaining the orphanage’s financial stability and sustainability. Alongside Rev Mensah and Mr. Oke are Mr. Ben Willie and Mrs. Josephine Akinwunmi. As board members, they actively contribute to policy development, program implementation, and strategic planning. In addition, they contribute in raising funds, leveraging their networks and resources to support Olive Blooms’ mission.
The Pillars of Olive Blooms Orphanage
Working in collaboration with the Executive Secretary and Founder, Mrs. Udochukwu, the Board of Trustees is deeply involved in the day-to-day operations of the orphanage. They pay scheduled visits to assess the well-being of the children. Their active engagement ensures that Olive Blooms remains responsive to the evolving needs of the children and the community.
The first child arrived at Olive Blooms Home in March 2010. A visibly excited Mrs. Udochukwu recollects the first night as she narrates how she felt. The child, whose exact age was unknown as there was no record of her birth certificate, was estimated to be around two years old. She spent the initial three nights at her personal residence before being transferred to Olive Blooms Home. This arrangement was approved by Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development due to the temporary disengagement of staff at the orphanage because children hadn’t shown up for about six months. Mrs. Udochukwu remembered the excitement of her own children upon meeting the child. By the fourth day, she was able to recall three staff members to resume their duties at Olive Blooms Home, where the child was then moved. Mrs. Udochukwu shared that although she is no longer in direct contact with the family, the adoptive mother visited the orphanage and affirmed that the child is thriving and attending school. The Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development remains in contact with the family, ensuring ongoing support and monitoring of the child’s well-being.
Mrs. Udochukwu and the kids having a meal together. ( @olivebloomsorphanage)
As time went on, Olive Blooms continued to grow and flourish, expanding its reach and impact. By September 2011, thirteen children had been placed in different homes. These stories of successful adoptions and the well-being of the children highlight the positive outcomes achieved through Olive Blooms’ efforts. The organisation’s commitment to finding permanent homes for every child who enters its care is a testament to their vision.
“So far, Olive Blooms has successfully facilitated the adoption of about 65 children into different families. Mrs. Udochukwu insists that the level of contact between adoptive parents and the home is parent-led. While some adoptive parents choose to maintain a connection and keep in touch, others prefer to keep the adoption a secret from the children. This decision is respected and honoured by Olive Blooms, ensuring the privacy and wishes of the adoptive families.
So far, Olive Blooms has successfully facilitated the adoption of about 65 children into different families. Mrs. Udochukwu insists that the level of contact between adoptive parents and the home is parent-led. While some adoptive parents choose to maintain a connection and keep in touch, others prefer to keep the adoption a secret from the children. This decision is respected and honoured by Olive Blooms, ensuring the privacy and wishes of the adoptive families.
Olive Blooms Orphanage, with its 21 rooms and 6 beds, has the capacity to provide care for a maximum of 14 children. They have had to in some circumstances decline children from the ministry as their facilities and resources are tailored to meet the specific needs of children aged between 0-5 years. To ensure the proper selection and placement of children, each child must be recommended by Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development. Currently, Olive Blooms is home to eight children, including two with specialised care arrangements.
Mrs. Udochukwu enthused about the care and support provided to two of her wards with cerebral palsy and mild autism. According to her they receive specialised attention, including regular therapy sessions such as physiotherapy and speech therapy. They also have access to a special needs teacher who is trained to support them with their learning difficulty. They both also attend music school, nurturing their musical abilities. In addition to specialised care, Olive Blooms strives to create a nurturing and homely environment for all the children. Mrs. Udochukwu, acting as a mother figure, brings a sense of warmth and love to the orphanage. The caregivers also play a crucial role in providing support and ensuring that each child feels cared for. To promote their social development, the children attend a regular school outside the orphanage. This provides them opportunities to interact with other children, fostering socialisation skills. They attend church services on Sundays and are encouraged to engage in children’s activities in the church. They also get to experience outings to places such as eateries and beaches during long vacations, creating memorable experiences.
Director’s treat: Little shoppers in action. Photo Credit(/@OliveBlooms)
“Although the testimony isn’t complete yet”, Mrs. Udochukwu says with a determined glint in her eye, as she shares success stories of the children whose lives have been positively transformed by the orphanage.
The first success story revolves around Isaac who arrived at the orphanage at just 18 months old, with his health condition a major cause for concern. Mrs. Udochukwu took immediate action and sought medical advice from a paediatrician, leading to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. He was then recommended to visit the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi and Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) for specialised care. At the orthopaedic hospital, Mrs. Udochukwu discovered something outstanding. They got to work and built a bespoke wooden seat design for him, enabling him to stand with support. With this innovative approach, Isaac made remarkable progress, transitioning from standing to walking. He also underwent multiple surgeries to improve his eyesight. Moreover, with the help of a speech therapist, his communication skills improved and in no time he uttered his first words which were, “Welcome mom,” much to Mrs. Udochukwu’s joy.
The other success story is of the mildly autistic Tosin, who had infrequent but notable violent episodes. Recognizing the need for some form of intervention, the orphanage provided support through a behavioural therapist. With consistent therapy, his behaviour significantly improved and he became calmer. Tosin began participating in class and better expressing himself. This positive change was evident in his term results, reflecting not only academic growth but also personal development.
“A final heartwarming tale is of adoptive families who have chosen to return to the orphanage with the children. Mrs. Udochukwu remembers fondly a Nigerian family based in the US. They made a trip back to Nigeria and brought their children to visit the orphanage, creating a beautiful opportunity for the children to witness the place that was once their home.
A final heartwarming tale is of adoptive families who have chosen to return to the orphanage with the children. Mrs. Udochukwu remembers fondly a Nigerian family based in the US. They made a trip back to Nigeria and brought their children to visit the orphanage, creating a beautiful opportunity for the children to witness the place that was once their home.
Mrs. Ngozi Udochukwu finds immense reward in her role at Olive Blooms Orphanage, despite the challenges she faced when transitioning from her previous career. Leaving behind her profession meant giving up a stable source of income, but “When I see these children and those who have gone through here, I look back and thank God that I’m doing what I’m doing. They’re not on the streets; they’re in families and not institutionalised,” shares Mrs. Udochukwu
Regarding succession planning, Mrs. Udochukwu acknowledges the importance of considering the future of the orphanage. While she has been thinking about it, she recognizes the need for a suitable successor who shares the same values and vision. Mrs. Udochukwu emphasises that finding a successor requires more than just interest; it requires a shared commitment to integrity, love, and selflessness. For her the priority is to ensure that the next leader will uphold the values and continue the mission of Olive Blooms in providing a safe and loving home for vulnerable children.
The orphanage is fortunate to have the on-going support of various entities, including Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) and Covenant Christian Church. EKEDC provides electricity to the orphanage. Covenant Christian Church, on the other hand, supports Olive Blooms by providing tuition assistance. In addition to corporate partnerships, Olive Blooms Orphanage receives support from family, friends, well-wishers, and the goodwill of the public. These individuals and groups contribute in various ways, including financial donations and in-kind contributions.
MTN fountdation and Kemi Adeosun present food, household items to Olive Blooms Orphanage. Photo Credit (/@cityvoice.ng)
The orphanage cannot fulfil its mission without the collective support of society. This is where genz can really shine. There are numerous ways to get involved and contribute to this noble cause:
Financial contributions, however little, can help provide essential resources, sustaining the orphanage’s operations, education, and healthcare to these deserving children. Even the smallest donation can make a significant difference.
The home welcomes in-kind donations such as clothing, educational materials, toys, and books.
By volunteering your free time at the orphanage, you can directly interact with the children and provide them with love, care, and attention. Engage in activities such as playing games, reading stories, assisting with homework, or simply being a positive role model. Your presence and involvement can have a lasting impact on their emotional and social development as well as yours.
Help raise awareness about the work of Olive Blooms Orphanage. Share their stories with your friends, family, and colleagues. Use social media platforms to amplify their message and inspire others to get involved.
Planning special events and activities for the children, such as a children’s party or a day of fun and games. This allows the children to experience moments of joy and laughter.
To get involved, all you need to do is contact the orphanage (via the details below), express your interest in volunteering, and share how you’d like to contribute.
In closing, let us remember the words of Mrs. Udochukwu: “When I see these children and those who have gone through here, I look back and thank God that I’m doing what I’m doing. They’re not on the streets; they’re in families and not institutionalised.” With our collective support and commitment, we can make a difference and uplift the lives of these precious children at Olive Blooms Orphanage.
If you have any personal stories or thoughts related to this cause, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments. Your involvement can make a significant difference. Let’s join together and contribute to their journey towards a brighter future.comments powered by Disqus