On May 20, 2014, fourteen AYAYA volunteers traveled from the United States to begin our 2nd annual Service Trip to Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Arriving with mission to support and uplift orphaned youth throughout the state, we were able to surpass all expectations while visiting 6 orphanages and a hospital. We were able to touch over 2,000 children with donations ranging from school supplies, clothes, food, and hygiene supplies, just to name a few. This effort provided us an opportunity to visit and interact with each child to instill a vision of hope for the future.
Founded in 2012, AYAYA was formed with a goal to provide an avenue for youth and young adults living in the diaspora to connect with their home in Akwa Ibom State. The benefit of our initiative has been two-fold: we first provide a way to visit and explore our beautiful state, as well as offer an opportunity to give back to the less fortunate. We were able to bring a team of 7 AYAYA members in our first year, and this year, we doubled that number to 14!
The passion behind Akwa Ibom’s bright future is undeniable. The laudable achievements of His Excellency, Chief Dr. Godswill Akpabio has set a great precedent going forward. He has continually promoted the education and welfare of all children in the state, and enacted the country’s first ever Children’s Rights Law. His efforts have also seen us through recent developments in infrastructure with the addition of flyovers, roads and bridges, the Ibom International Stadium, Tropicana Entertainment Centre, and the First in West Africa E-Library. There is no doubt that Akwa Ibom is soaring to new heights and trailblazing the future!
“Everyone Matters”: AYAYA understands the valuable lesson that every single person on this earth matters. It reminds us to never underestimate the impact you can have on a single life. Any subtle interaction with a child can have a profound effect on their future, and this is what drives AYAYA to reach more youth every day. The relationships we have built will last a lifetime, and we have truly come away with an experience of immersion, connection, and a deeper awareness of who we really are as children from Akwa Ibom. We look forward to continuing this trip for years to come!
As AYAYA continues to grow, we need continued awareness and support from YOU! If you would like to e-mail us with any questions, comments, or feedback, please do so at hello@weareAYAYA.com.
May God Bless Akwa Ibom State, The Land of Promise!
Enobong Umoh - President
Tracy Ekong - Public Relations Officer
Shalini Malaki - Secretary
Ugwem Eneyo - Miss Akwa Ibom 2013-14
2014 Service Trip To Akwa Ibom State
Thursday, May 22nd
Motherless Babies Home/Special Victims Center
No. Of Children: 124
Age Range: 0-12
Items Donated: Hygiene, food, diapers
The Motherless Babies Home (also known as the Special Victims Center) was the first stop on our visit. As the name implies, these children have been placed here because their parents are either deceased or have abandoned them. We were graciously received by the children as they sang and prayed. After the welcome we had time to interact with the children playing various games and even had a soccer match!
Friday, May 23rd
Friends of the Needy Home
No. Of Children: 45
Age Range: 0-18
Items Donated: Food, sewing kits, school bags, clothes, shoes
Since 1998, Friends of the Needy Organization (FONO) has been tasked with the responsibility to provide support and a sense of belonging to the less privileged youth of Akwa Ibom State and beyond. FONO “envisions an Akwa Ibom and Nigeria where lives of the poor/less privileged as well as teenagers who are the future leaders are positively impacted upon to make them productive citizens and self-confident for the overall socio-economic development of the country.” During our visit, we were able to meet and interact with the children, and also took a tour of their facility. FONO runs different projects throughout the year, one of which is a sewing center, which is used to teach skills that the children can use in the future.
No. Of Children: 460
Age Range: 0-18
Items Donated: School supplies, diapers, hygiene items, detergent, food
In our return to Gospel Village, we were again welcomed with a chorus of eager children excited to see us keep our promise of coming back. After our introductions, we were able to divide all of the children into smaller groups for different activities. We played a number of school yard games and had a soccer match on their main field. After the games were done, we passed out school supplies to every child. Each one received a pen, pencil, and workbook. We made sure we left them encouraged, letting them know that education is the most important key in life, and that there are no limits to anything you want to accomplish in the future.
Saturday, May 24th
Holy Family Sisters of the Needy
No. Of Children: 39
Age Range: 0-15
Items Donated: Baby clothes, diapers, food items
The Holy Family Sisters of the Needy Home was a new addition this year, recommended by our supporter, Mr. Tony Esu. We were welcomed by the children as they sang melody of songs. The energy was so great we joined in and had a dance party with the kids! The Director, Sister Mary Judith expressed her gratitude for our visit and said they are in need of support throughout the entire year, mainly, a van for transportation of the children, as most of the Sisters currently have to use their own personal cars.
St. Louie's Handicap Canter
Location: Ikot Ekpene
No. Of Children: 250
Age Range: 6-18
Items Donated: Food, hygeiene items, clothes
The St. Louie’s Handicap Center is home to about 250 orphans. They specialize in caring for special needs children who are mainly deaf and mute. Even though there was a communication barrier, they were able to teach us basic sign language phrases for us to communicate. We were able to take pictures with all of the children and received a brief tour of the compound. In the end we were able to donate various items like garri, hygiene items, and clothing.
Monday, May 26th
Ikot Abasi General Hospital
Location: Ikot Abasi
No. Of Children: 15
Age Range: 0-1
Items Donated: Diapers, maternity supplies, various medical equipment
AYAYA returned to Ikot Abasi General Hospital to visit the maternity ward and provide other medical supplies that had been given by donors. AYAYA was able to give diapers, baby clothing, new beddings for every bed in the ward. We made sure to give each expecting mother a care package which included diapers, powder, Vaseline, formula, and other supplies crucial in the first few weeks of birth. Other donated medical supplies included gauze, IV bags, etc.
Tuesday, May 27th
Children’s Day Celebration
AYAYA Group Members had the opportunity to march with the local school children of Akwa Ibom on Children’s Day. Over 5,000 children participated in the Parade! Participants were able to hear a host of high profile visitors who all stressed the overall theme of education.
The Divine Children’s Center
No. Of Children: 305
Age Range: 0-18
Items Donated: Food, music, party
The Divine Children’s Center, one of the biggest orphanages in Uyo, was originally established to protect vulnerable youth who were branded “witches” and sent away from their respective homes. Since then, Her Excellency Mrs. Ekaette Unoma Akpabio has managed the home to continually support the children and to make sure the facilities upkeep is kept to standard. During our visit, we were able to interact while threw a party featuring DJ Sam, and later provided a catered dinner meal.
Thursday, May 29th
Democracy Day Celebration and Ceremony
The 2014 Democracy Day celebration took place at the Uyo Township Stadium. This day was used to celebrate Nigeria’s 15 years as a official democracy, and the “seven years of Uncommon Transformation” under the leadership of His Excellency, Chief Godswill Akpabio, Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
AYAYA Members had the distinct honor to attend the official Akwa Ibom State Government’s State Banquet, which was held to mark Democracy Day and the 7th Anniversary of the Administration. Under the theme, “Seven years of Uncommon Transformation”, we were able to experience the elegant gala which featured the top government officials and dignitaries in Akwa Ibom. We were able to celebrate the leadership and laudable achievements of His Excellency, Chief Godswill Akpabio and his staff. This transformation has included the new 30,000 capacity Ibom International Stadium, the First in West Africa e-Library, and the new shopping mall at the Tropicana Complex, just to name a few.