-Reaching Out to Street Kids – Child Rights and You (CRY)!-
Mr Michael Nsan, Founder and National Coordinator of a charity organization, Child Rights and You (CRY), has come up with a new initiative that is paying attention to the kids on our streets and “advocates for the Rights of Children, Right to Life, Right to Love and be Loved, Right to Health Care, Education, Training, and Happiness.”
On a whatsapp forum created for this purpose, he pointed out that, “The organization started as a child of necessity in response to growing concerns about the future of homeless children found at almost every busy street in my hometown, Calabar, in Cross River State. The group is against child abuse of any form and that they have cases of sex abuse, molestation of children.”
Mr Michael Nsan, an alumnus of Federal Science College, Ogoja, was once the Deputy Manager, Lagos Zonal Office of National Lottery Regulatory Commission. He resigned in December 2016 to contest LGA elections in Cross River State under the platform of APC. He then went on to establish and now manages a marketing consultancy, as the MD/CEO of Proactive Strategies Ltd. He also owns a fish and poultry farm.
Brief History of CRY
In the words of the founder and national coordinator:
“On holidays from Lagos in 2012, my wife and I were shocked to see so many street kids roaming Calabar, especially the very busy areas of Marian Road and Mary Slessor. On enquiry we heard different versions of the street kids epidemic. But almost all pointed accusing fingers to negligence of the then First Lady, towards the kids, saying she brought them into Calabar through her NGO. They were then called “ndito Imoke” (which means Imoke’s children).
Then they were beggars and did menial jobs around eateries to fend for themselves. Two years after, on holidays, we noticed the kids population had grown and they had some teenagers and young adults among them. They had graduated from begging to molesting and robberies. They had different groups and ways of operations. They had become daredevils, they even robbed in broad daylight.
Stories were everywhere how they (the kids) even confront the police during their robberies. Their new identity was and is still known as SCOLOMBO. They were now a menace to society. We were very worried and decided to take actions, that is how CRY was born. As a child of necessity.”
Forming the Group
Upon forming the group, with a whatsapp forum to boost its audience, many people volunteered into the initiative. Mr Nsan made efforts to involve various stakeholders, government and individuals in the initiative. He said:
“We had personal funds. We wrote to many government agencies and NGOs to help out. Had meeting with Head of Human Rights Commission in Calabar. She said I had to communicate with their HQ in Abuja, gave me phone contacts of the people there, we tried to move forward with that but their attitude wasn’t encouraging so we discontinued. We wrote letters to Cross River State Government agencies, wrote and met with World Health Organization, wrote to UNICEF but all to no avail.
Government though sprang into action and the launch of Operation Skolombo was initiated to rid the street of the kids. That obviously has failed. We started interacting with the kids, we started organizing feeding and clothing programmes. We use our personal funds. We tried to engage them mentally to understand their mindset.
They feel they don’t have any future. Many want care and love. They feel deprived, hated, despised. People tend to detest them on first sight so this gives them a sense of self worthlessness. We started working on their confidence and educating them that they do have self-worth and a future. They are happy to be attended to. They are just children.
Many want vocational jobs and do have skills. We organised events that they participate in. They started trusting our team. We report or update the world on Facebook and social media just to draw attention to the plight of the kids.”
While presenting his team, Mr Nsan stated that his team is made up of four members and that they “need volunteers to fill in certain responsibilities to help make us stronger and more coordinated; Mrs. Ifeyinwa Eze-Nubia is National Secretary; Mr. Kevin Igba is Coordinator: International Partnerships; Mrs. Phebe Nsan is Head: Child Welfare/Programmes; Mrs. Henshaw is Head of Audit: Support/Contributions; I am also in charge of Media Control.”
“These distinguished ladies and gentlemen are founding members and have devoted time, ideas, resources etc that has helped us so far. We have many volunteers and friends that also have contributed a lot to our cause. We have other positions we hope to fill as soon as possible, and these will be thrown open for volunteers to express willingness to participate.”
Mrs Ifeyinwa Eze-Nubia, also an alumnus of Federal Science College, Ogoja, described CRY as a “Charity basically for the Children most especially the less privileged in our society. Let’s make a change in our generation; We advocate for the Rights of Children; we have been working on our own to help give the released kids a sense of livelihood. We invite everyone to join in the campaign to give them a home and some form of training”.
A Home for the Street Kids and Carnival Plans
The organization has several targets and wants to carry on with “raising awareness and raising funds to rent an apartment/boarding house for the kids.” Mr Nsan explained that a home will be provided for the kids “with Strict security, and Skills Acquisition Training. We need ideas.”
He also laid out their plans to involve the street kids in the forthcoming Calabar Carnival, as a way of making them feel part of society and as well as serve as an awareness campaign regarding the needs of the kids. He said,
“As part of plans to raise the funds, we plan to have A STREET KIDS CARNIVAL. At this moment, we are trying to get clearance from the Government Authorities. If this is cleared, then it will help create awareness. And we shall raise funds to meet our programmes. Other ideas are very welcome. As part of the street kids carnival, I also look at captivating events like talent displays from the kids, fashion shows… But the big question is… Funds? Where do we begin?”
The CRY organization is registered with the Cross River State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare and is in the process of registering as an NGO with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
According to Mr Nsan, for now, “Everything is voluntary. We don’t impose anything. For the Carnival, I’m sure we have some events planners and respectable marketers that can pull in their experience to help us achieve that. But while we plan, it’s important to get the clearance first that’s why we would like a Plan B from ideas in the House.”
Mr Mike Nsan, Founder and National Coordinator of Child Rights and You (CRY) can be contacted on: (+234) 0805 5637790
- Linda Ellah
Please See Related Post: Children on the Street have Rights too (here)