Nollywood Star’s Passion For The Physically-Challenged
Nollywood actress, writer, producer, and interior decorator, Ajanigo Inikpi Simeon is one who has the passion to bring succour to the physically-challenged in the society. She has made real this interest by founding Ajanigo Bliss Foundation, an avenue that she uses to reach out to them.
FOR Ajanigo Inikpi Simeon who made her breakthrough in Nollywood in 2011 on the set of The Blind Orphan, the passion to bring succour to the physically-challenged has almost become an instinct, having herself romanced with poverty in its abject form in her early years. Although now a success in Nollywood and also a writer and a producer, as well as an interior decorator, she would not take her mind off an aspect which has been very dear to her heart; attending to the disabled.
To satisfy this desire, she founded Ajanigo Bliss Foundation. According to her, the foundation is out to impact on the lives of the people who are more vulnerable than the orphans in the orphanages. The actor said she was inspired by the fact that in recent times, birthdays of highly placed individuals are hosted at the orphanage homes because those children need to be showed special kind of love.
“Each time I see that, I always felt they are not the only vulnerable set of people that we have in our society. So, my foundation is out to give attention to those I think the orphans are better off than; people when you see them, their problem is boldly written on their foreheads. They are the physically-challenged,” she said.
She disclosed that her foundation gave out 50 wheelchairs and 30 crutches for the physically-challenged and under privileged during its maiden outreach on October 3, 2015. According to her, she had stumbled on pitiable situations where she found out that somebody had been on the ground for three to four years and could not afford to buy a wheelchair.
“The aim and objectives of this foundation is to give them these aids and also look beyond to establish those that are skilled among them. Most of them are skilled but the problem is because of their situation, when people see them they categorize them as beggars and people would rather give them N1, 000 to buy food rather than establishing them.
“That is one aspect the foundation intends to assist them. Some of them are good in soap making, tailoring and all of that. We want to use this foundation as a platform to make them independent. There is also an aspect of the foundation that deals with women with childbirth problems. It will be giving them IVF treatment. Now I will say the foundation is a very large one, I can’t do it all; this is my starting point, a way of adding my little quota to the world.”
She said physically-challenged people are special to her in the sense that the society neglected them and kept them in a situation where they are being treated less than those who think we are able-bodied.
“These people, however, are specially able in their own way as there are so many things they can do. For instance, the blind man who finds a way around his activities for the day which those with their sight may not be able to do.
“One of my principles is if anyone is able to eat three square meals a day, it means he is rich because there are many persons out there that cannot even afford to eat roasted corn but you have it which means you are better than someone.”
Simeon went down memory to reveal the inspiration that birthed the foundation. “I tapped my inspiration from there and then from the fact that my uncle was running and orphanage somewhere in Dekina Local Government. As a growing child, I had the privilege of always being around the homes.
He was my greatest inspiration based on the fact that when you come around the orphanage, you can hardly tell who are his biological children from those other children in the home.”
On the snag that some NGOS come up for selfish ends using it to get funds from international donors, she said: “I have learned a lot about NGOs. Some close acquaintances have asked for money to run NGO, I have heard a lot of such. My own idea is anyone who wants to be a philanthropist should use his own funds. That is the reason Ajanigo Bliss Foundation has existed for this long. It is a dream that has been there for a long time. I had a vision but I didn’t have the financial capacity to execute it. But everything that has happened is what has been there for more than 10 years.
“I had made it very clear to my project manager even before we started the preparation. I told him that this foundation was not looking for funds, everything I said I was going to provide I had them already. I just want to impact my world. I am not doing it for publicity. I am not doing it to be famous or to be noticed because to a greater extent God has blessed me already. I am doing it with every sense of humility, with no pride attached.”
She clarified, however, that the foundation would only take money from anybody who is willing to give voluntarily contribution. “I say it today that we are not looking for money to do what we are set out to do. It is a job close to my heart, nobody sent me, na me send myself. So, I don’t have to start asking for money to execute it; out of the little God has blessed me, I want to contribute my quota to humanity. I want to impact my generation positively with it. So, I don’t have to wait till it is very big. At least, the money I spend buying phones can give someone a wheelchair, it can lift someone who has been crawling for three or four years off the ground. So, I can afford to actually make myself uncomfortable in certain areas of luxury to be able to impact my generation.
“Ajanigo Bliss Foundation is not out to solicit funds except it is voluntary and it has to be voluntary contribution to be accepted. God can only increase you, he owns finance and resource and he is the giver of riches; so, you can only grow if he permits. I have told myself that it is going to be a yearly event. This is what I have been able to do at our maiden outing on 3rd of October 2015. I have prayed to God to be able to double or triple this as my contribution to mankind in the next edition of Ajanigo Bliss foundation. Since I have 130 beneficiaries in this my maiden outreach, my desire is to be able to reach out to 260 disable persons in the next edition in so many different ways.
“It might not be wheelchairs, it might not be crutches next time or free medicated glasses, it might be establishing somebody and making a physically-challenged person independent or paying some bills in school for special children who cannot afford to go to school under my scholarship.”
She promised to make it a yearly event, adding that with God’s blessing she can even make it twice a year.
Simeon had a very humble background. The third child from a family of seven, she was born and bred in Warri, Delta State. Her father is a retired police officer.
Recollecting her growing up years, she said: “My story as a growing child is a story of struggle. I was not born with a silver spoon. My mother engaged in all sorts of trade to see us through life. If you have an idea of what police salary was about five to seven years ago, you will understand a little bit of where I am coming from. For a man with a meager salary of about N15, 000 and having about three children in the university, it was almost impossible but that was the kind on home I grew up in.
“We had to take turns to fry akara in the barracks. If you go to the A Division Police Barracks in Warri today, ask of my mother and about us, we are well known because we fry akara in the morning and in the evening. Even while we were in school, my sister and I had to come home to take turns after school. If she was on duty in the morning, I had to be there in the evening to do it because that was our means of livelihood. Yet, we were so happy.”