2015 Tutu Fellow Mosunmola Cynthia Umoru has drawn on her contacts and network to minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable in her community. She is the Founder and Chief Realization Officer, of Honeysuckles PTL Ventures, which engages in farming, food production, processing and distribution of a wide range of products.
In one week, she and her network jointly raised a total of N6,866,800 in cash, and food valued at N750,000 (about $20,000USD).
She explained her actions, saying: “for years, those in the middle class have had the reality of our social disparity stare us in the face and if there was one thing that was certain, it was that this obvious disparity between the middle class and the lower class will be further heightened by the looming lockdown. If we pride ourselves on being able to feed and care for our immediate families, how about those around us who cannot? And if we say that it is none of our business, then what happens if some of the hungry boys get desperate, take to the streets, and attack us in our homes? Pause to think for a moment. We are all interconnected.”
When crime did spike, Cynthia argued that the community needed to feed the boys, not fight them. If this course of action was not pursued, she said, everyone would lose. Bearing this in mind, we engaged our friends in private discussions and communicated this approach to them.
She said that she was overjoyed to find that with the support from a few of our amazing friends - many of which chose to be anonymous - they were able to collect the funds and foods already mentioned. Converting her front office and retail space into a food bank, Cynthia and her friend Ngozi Anyaru co-ordinated the fund drive via a WhatsApp group. The funds provided the food, which included 10kg rice, 5kg beans, oil, tomato paste, Maggi or AACE Food Spice, and in some cases AACE SoyMaize for young children. Enough was collected for more than 1,500 households in total.
Cynthia said that with the support of Red Star Logistics - a partner of Fed-Ex Nigeria - we incurred no costs for transportation as they moved the food across the state pro-bono.
N6,244,800 and N750,000 worth of food went to Lagos food for Vulnerable, a campaign geared towards supporting vulnerable residents of Lagos State. The rest of the food was distributed directly to recipients - and to those boys on the street - in the following communities:
- Matogun,Ijaiye Ojokoro, Ikota, Aro, Oniru Beach
- IDH Yaba - Home for the persons living with disabilities
- Stroke Victims, through the Michael & Francisca Foundation
- Regina Mundi Home for the elderly in Mushin
Furthermore, N372,000 was provided for PPE donations for doctors in the South East and N250,000 was donated to the South East Fund for the Vulnerable. Cynthia reflected that during the lockdown, the weakness of systems and government organs were further exposed and it became clear that citizens must learn to constantly rise up to the leadership challenges in their quest to achieve the solutions the world needed. She said, "more than ever, we seem to have given too much power and financial resources to the government at the expense of the citizenry and this total dependence on the government must stop. If we are to change the status quo, we all must rise up to do the best we possibly can to make the world better.”