Dr Jumai Ahmadu, an assistant director in the federal civil service is the founder of Helpline Foundation through which she fulfils her passion of touching lives
I’m the fifth child in a family of eight, my father is late Mr Usman Okpeh, my mother is Deaconess Rebecca Usman. My husband is Dr Abubakar Ahmadu, he is from Nassarawa State, he is a Muslim and I am a Christian and we are blessed with children. I had my primary education at LEA primary school Ofente and my secondary at Community High School Ofente in Ofente – Ogugu local government area of Kogi State.
I proceeded to the University of Jos where I had a diploma in Mass communication and a B.sc in Political Science. I did my National Youth Service in Abuja after which the FCDA employed me. I got an award during my NYSC for a project I did.
I have now continued that project on a small scale. I always tell people, there is no one too poor to give and there is nothing too small to give. Until we identify that fact we won’t be able to affect lives. I went further to register an NGO which I called Pure Saints Home. Each time we had an event, people will call and ask where is the orphanage situated? Of course we didn’t have one. I thought of how to remove myself from the identity of orphanage home. So we changed the name to Helpline Foundation For The Needy in 2010.
In pursuit of my education I enrolled at the University of Abuja where I bagged my M.sc Public administration and Policy analysis 2006. After that in 2010, I enrolled again for my Ph.D. Public analysis which by God’s grace I was conferred in 2019.
My research work was on the impact of FCT resettlement policy on the original inhabitants, it is a problem that has been lingering and until we find a lasting solution to the problem we are sitting on a time bomb in Abuja. Their issues have to be addressed and that was how I was able to come up with some recommendations which I am hoping that this administration will see and implement so we can bring this problem to a complete rest, so we can have a city that all of us can lay claim to. In a nutshell I have been working in FCT since that time I rose from an admin officer to an assistant director now. This is my 21 year in service
I wouldn’t say I have experienced those typical challenges women usually say they have because one, I know what I’m expected to do and I do them very well and secondly it works for me as I have worked with women more in my career and we have never had this regular and common thing that women don’t like themselves. All my bosses were women and they have been fantastic and supportive and I owe everything I know in the service to them, particularly Hajia Maina Saliu. She is the one I can refer to as the one who really groomed me and made me to know everything I know especially in the service as well as in the humanitarian aspect of what I’m doing.
When it comes to family my aunty, Mama Okpe is also one of the women who shaped me towards the humanitarian work I am doing now.
Help Line Foundation For The Needy
It’s a foundation born out of the realization that no matter how poor you are, there is somebody you are better than. That was why, I said people are in their situation not because it’s what they desire, it’s circumstances that made them who they are. So if you are somewhere and you think you can assist in a very insignificant way to make them happy, do so. Our motto is ‘to put a smile on the faces of the less privileged’.
Most widows are suffering, not because it’s their fault. Some children who are orphans need just very little, like I realized also that with as little as N1000, you can pay a child’s school fees compared to what we are paying in the private schools.
The foundation is out there to see how we can assist, and put smiles on their faces and so far God has been helping us. We have quite a lot of projects. We have a food bank which is at area1, and the aim of that food bank is to collect food from people, no matter how little you have. We call these widows out periodically to distribute whatever it is we have accumulated.
We also have the charity shop that people give us what they no longer need like household items, clothing materials and wears which we sell at a very subsidized rate, the money realised is then distributed to the widows to pay school fees for their children. We also empower them through skill acquisition. We have two major projects-the scheme for widows and the Girl Realise Your Potential.
The scheme for widows, is a nonprofit scheme. We use it to bring them out, we put them in cluster groups of 20s. Empower 10 out of the 20, the remaining 10 will now serve as monitors to those women in business.
At the end of every month, they meet to rub minds on how their businesses are faring, advice each other and contribute money. In a month, a widow should be able to bring N2000, then they will gather another N20,000 which a widow will take and that has been evolving. So far we have a success story.
They don’t pay back; we just make them revolve it amongst themselves. The network has grown we started with about 100 widows and now we have about 500 of them scattered around Abuja, Kogi State and Nassarawa State.
The Girl Realise Your Potential project is targeted at young girls. You will agree with me that most girls in public schools are daughters of those busy women selling in the market who don’t have time or those girls brought from villages to be house helps, so nobody is there to talk to them in terms of their career choices. We get those privileged and established women to come and donate their time to talk to the girls so they have mentors around.
An offshoot of this program is the Voice of the Girls Parliament, where they deliberate on issues that are bothering them, they pass a resolution just like national assembly does. In turn we take these to the respective government agencies for implementation.
Few weeks ago we inaugurated the second parliament. We are hoping that during the holidays they will have a sitting and present what they have resolved to be worked on at various agencies.
If we want to have a good society that we can be proud of, then we must mentor the younger ones. I’m glad I have them. I can say in my immediate office environment, I have 10 of them and I encourage them to look for girls who are younger than them so they can mentor them as well. I mentor them on how to be good ladies how not to use their body to get what they want. I them to be self-reliant. No matter how bad your boss is one day your dedication will be appreciated.
We do our things and make the public see what we are doing not because we want to show off but because we want to show that It’s not when you have billions in your account that you can assist. No matter how little you have, you can touch lives. Help Line Foundation is always in the news so that we can send out this message. I am happy that a lot of people now see, that they can actually help in ways they would have thought was too little.
I want to be remembered as that woman who came, and in her own little corner she was able to impact lives, as someone who had people not money. When you have people you have all the riches imaginable.