“Here, children learn everything a child should learn at home with his parents” Dr Esther Onoy-Omita

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In this edition of our Newsletter, we are delighted to introduce another one of our child protection partners: Dr Esther Onoy-Omita. 

Dr Esther runs the Society for Youth Development and Rescue Initiative (SYDRI) and today, she talks to us about what inspired her to establish SYDRI and how, with the help of Safe Child Africa, SYDRI is making a difference.  

Hello Dr Esther, can you tell us where SYDRI is based?

Yes, SYDRI is based in the South Eastern part of Nigeria in the ancient city of Calabar. 

How many children do you help at SYDRI and how old are they?

We support ten children at any one time, and most of them are boys. Their age range varies but most are aged between seven and seventeen years old.

When and how did you get involved with SYDRI?

I had an only brother, sadly he was a drug addict and as a result, he lived on the streets. We did what we could to him, but we knew that the best and only chance he had of getting the help he needed, was through a rehabilitation centre, where he could be treated. However, there are none in the South eastern part of Nigeria, so we couldn't get him the help he needed. In Calabar at that time, we noticed there were many street children, many of them just young kids. I could only imagine what their families were going through. And that’s where the drive came from: to help these people, since we could not help my brother. So we set up SYDRI.    

What does SYDRI offer to the street children you help?

At SYDRI we provide shelter and basic care and support for boys, namely: food, clothing and medication. We provide them with a formal basic education as well as skills acquisition - so they have the basic skills needed to be able to move into work when they are old enough.

SYDRI has often been described as home from home, can you tell us a bit about that?

As well as education and skills, we provide psychosocial counselling, psychotherapy, recreation, family reintegration and foster parenting. Here, children learn everything a child should learn at home with his parents. They do domestic chores, learn arts and craft, receive moral instructions, values and anything that would change their mind set and make them better people in life.”

What length of time do children stay with you? 

The average length of stay is 2 years, but actually it is for as long as the children need it.

How do the children feel about living at SYDRI?

The boys are very happy to have a roof over their heads and somewhere they can call home. They are grateful for all the services provided by SYDRI because these have given them hope and a future.  

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