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Abuja: Sapphire Foundation relocates to Mel’s Place, solicits assistance to achieve objectives

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An international non-governmental organisation, the Sapphire Foundation, has stated that its relocation from Mabushi Ultra Modern Market to Mel’s Place, Jahi 2, Abuja, is to reposition to achieve the objectives of the foundation.

During an exclusive interview at the opening of its new office at Mel’s Place, Jahi 2, Abuja, the CEO of Sapphire Foundation (Nigeria), Jasmine Cannon-Ikurusi Wigodo, said that the Foundation has been in the business of providing free vocational training to FCT residents; in order to reduce the rate of unemployment in Nigeria.

She said: “It has not been an easy journey running the Foundation, especially with financial challenges. Our relocation to Mel’s Place in Jahi 2, close to Katampe Junction, is to be better positioned to achieve our objectives of training young people on different skills. We offer free training to less privileged children, especially those not fortunate enough to be in schools.

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“The Sapphire Foundation was founded in the UK in 2015. However, we established the Abuja office in February 2020; in order to help curb unemployment in Nigeria by providing free vocational skills to FCT residents, especially the less privileged. In our academy, we accept FCT residents between the ages of 5 to 30 years and teach them different vocational skills free of charge.

“Many have acquired skills on hairdressing, dancing, ICT, among others. We also do extra mural lessons for students on different science and art subjects; in order to improve their academic performance. Everything we do here is free. We presently have over 500 students enrolled in our academy. Some graduated in June last year and we empowered them with equipment to set up on their own. Our tutors are monitoring their progress for evaluation and the beneficiaries are free to come back to us whenever they need help.

“Though we have many programmes, we usually face financial constraints in executing our plans. Hopefully, we will get partnership from public spirited individuals to continue putting smiles on the faces of FCT residents.”

She added: “We still have a long way to go. We just launched the new place today. We hope to get a mini bus so that we can transport students having difficulty with logistics in coming to the new centre. We are trying our best to do our work and be consistent so that with time, we will be recognised and get the needed support from government, individuals and organisations.

“Students should not give up. We are here to help them achieve their dreams. There is no charge of any kind for training students here. I have a passionate team with the same drive and focus to train and empower children. Even when it is hard and we lack resources, we keep pushing. We are even motivated to do more. We have other NGOs with the same objective, so we are open to partnership to achieve a better future for Nigerian children.

“We did human trafficking awareness last month and did a medical outreach few weeks ago. We are planning an outreach in Delta state, to support families affected by flood. We are also planning visits to orphanages. Then in December, we will do an outreach for the poor in the FCT, which involves distribution of food, clothes and other items to children and families for the celebration of Christmas. We hope to be doing this annually.

“Getting a permanent building for Sapphire Foundation is our biggest dream and I look forward to the government, individuals and organisations helping us to realize this dream. Education is key to a better future for our children. As the 2023 elections approach, I appeal to government to consider the future of our children. Voters should vote for the right candidates to effect better changes in Nigeria.” 

Also speaking, the Community Centre Manager of Sapphire Community Group, Nigeria, Blessing Ocholi, reiterated that the Foundation has laudable projects to take children off the streets and make residents gainfully employed, but pleaded for sponsorship from government and public spirited individuals to achieve its objectives.

She said: “It is not the location of our office that will help the foundation achieve our goal, but rather that we now have our own space, where we can once again continue our free workshops and trainings. One of our visions at Sapphire Community Group is to impact on lives of the community and the people we meet.

“I want to appeal to government and individuals to look into Sapphire Community Group and see the many works we are doing. We ensure that we do the best we can with whatever we have, but we want to do more. To accomplish our objectives, we need support and funding to impact lives of many children, people and families.

“Also, I want to advise individuals, who are already students of the foundation, as well as those who will join us newly this next session, to come with the mind and heart to learn, pick a skill and focus on it to gain as much as you can before you go. People have the tendency to take things for granted when it is free, but please let all parts of yourself be in agreement that I must not and will not leave the same boy/ girl/ woman/ or man I came to Sapphire as. We hope to see many students from third week of February, 2023, when the Sapphire Academy will start accepting and welcoming students.”

On her part, Event/Program Manager of Sapphire Community Group Nigeria, Chidinma Stephens, said that the new location offers more security to students.

She said: “Previously, we had the challenge of insecurity, but here is more secure, in terms of the Community Children’s safety and well being. Also, Mel’s Place, as a plaza, is situated in a conducive environment, which we believe will attract more sponsors/ partners that will support us to reach our goal.

“We appeal to the government and individuals that God has blessed to partner and support Sapphire Community Group financially to help us touch more lives and rebuild a broken generation, because we can’t do it all alone. Together we rebuild, repair and touch lives positively.

“Also, I want to advise to our students to maximize what have been impacted to them, including vocational training, educational training, skills learnt, ICT, among others. Those that have been empowered financially after the training should use it wisely in building themselves and the community.”