The Year 2020 happened.
From March 2020 till a few weeks before the end of the year, we had our doubts as to whether #ClotheTheClotheless2020 will hold or whether we would just allow the rollercoaster that has been 2020 walk past quietly. But you know this Yoruba saying of “Everyone sleeping and facing the same direction”? Ahhh thank God that was not the case of my team.
While I sat there pondering the impossibility of carrying out #ClotheTheClothless considering the difficulty we all faced one way or another this year, other members of my team, refused to see the impossibility. Tomisin even went ahead to say that worst case scenario is that we won’t reach out to as many children as we did in 2019 but, make-an-effort, we must. And make-an-effort we did. Boyyyyy, thank God for optimism. More than ever before, I totally believe the saying that goes “Heaven rewards movement”.
Well, we Moved!
Plans started earlier than usual this year, in a bid to improve our processes and make things better.
Earlier in the year, we wrote letters, sent out requests for sponsorship, partnerships, donations and support of different forms. Of over ten (10) requests sent out, we got a response from only one (1) organisation and guess what, the response was negative. This should be discouraging, right? Fortunately, I had already caught the optimism bug from my team so I wasn’t even going to let that bother me.
Volunteer Laolu, all the way in USA, worked on the official flier for #ClotheTheClotheless2020 and the first publication went out in October. Before we could conclude whispering a prayer to God for good support, donations started flowing in. It was indeed showers of blessings. We were amazed at the support and response from well-meaning beings like you and for this, Folabomi Foundation says “Thank You!”.
We were still going to work with the 250 figure and with that goal in mind, the Folabomi House of Fashion did an analysis of all the materials that would be required for the production of the dresses, joggers and collared-Tshirts for the children. We bought rolls and rolls of tulle and for the entire month of November, the Folabomi House of Fashion dedicated her time and resources to the manufacturing of these clothing pieces to beautify 250 under-privileged children.
Around this time, we had been trying to conclude on the community whose children would be beneficiaries of the brand new clothing pieces and food that would be made available at #ClotheTheClothless2020.
Dammy, our Location Manager, had started the search earlier and we agreed that our first survey would be at Orísúnmibáre community at Ijora, Costain, Lagos state. Kitted up and with hearts of prayer, we headed to this community. We met with the secretary of the community who led us to meet the Balogun of Orísúnmibáre. The Balogun is one interesting man as he showered us with prayers and expressed how appreciative the entire community was that we even thought of being of service to them. (See conversation with Balogun here).
Orísúnmibáre community was on the top of our list but we needed to be sure so Dammy and I went ahead to do a survey of three (3) other communities in Costain, Lagos. We concluded that the children in Orísúnmibáre needed our service more.
The production of the clothes was near-finished and very amazing volunteers came in to assist in ensuring we had a safe landing amidst their busy schedules. Bolu, Caleb, Kehinde, Ebenezer, Tolulope and Tobi were so handy and helped with ironing and tagging.
Also, sometime in November, a friend linked us up with an organisation named Food Clique Support. Remember that we had tried to get the support of over ten (10) other organisations to no avail, but what’s that saying about “keep trying..”? I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try again, right?
I went over to their office and had the shortest meeting with the CEO of Foodclique who pledged fifty (50) boxes of food items to support the #ClotheTheClothless2020 innitiative. I was beyond thrilled. This win felt like a pat on the back for all the failed attempts to get support from other organisations. My team was proud! We were energised to do more.
Soon enough all the dresses were completed and ready for packaging. It took a Village! Faith, Joke, Mabel, Titilayo, Martins, Toye and Gbemisola came in the day before #ClotheTheClothless2020 to sort out the clothing pieces. Afterwards, we had to tag the bags by age and then put ‘hook and eye’ on some of the dresses.
December 19th, 2020 came in like the speed of light and my Award Winning Volunteers came in droves, bearing toys, gifts, cartons of biscuit, cartons of drinks, and sacks of new sandals. Simi and her amazing friends even joined forces and donated 250 packs of delicious rice and chicken which was delivered on the morning of #ClotheTheClothless2020 for the beneficiaries.
Every single volunteer’s hand was on deck as final sorting and packaging went on. The bags of brand new clothing pieces were accompanied with facemasks, indomie noodles, toys, dolls, fascinators, candies, biscuits or drinks. Everyone had something extra in their package and this made us sooooo glad. On seeing all the beautiful items going into the bags for each child, I remember one of the volunteers exclaiming “This is suppose to be covid economy o? Imagine! This is much!”.
This brings me back to how grateful Folabomi Foundation is to every single person that sent a donation in kind or cash to support this project. You guys sent donations all the way from the US, the UK, Canada, Porthacourt, Benin, Ireland, Australia, Ibadan and the different parts of Lagos. Please I need you to know that you guys and God, made it possible for over 250 less-priviledged children to be fed and clothed with brand new clothes. You made them remember that they matter and that they can be anything, good, they set their minds to be. Thank You.
*Back to the D-Day*
All was ready but for our bus driver that decided to show-up about an hour and half later than our agreed time of departure. He finally arrived and the team commenced mounting into the bus the bags of clothes, sacks of food, cartons of food items, golden morn and packs of candy.
Before long, with a coaster bus and a convoy of two (2) cars, we took off and were enroute Orísúnmibáre community sipping on the best zobo in town, supplied by Titi of Marti Official. We said a prayer and the road was cleared for our sake.
We arrived at Orísúnmibáre at around 2pm and the minute the children saw us with bags of clothes they started cheering and clapping with so much undiluted excitement. My heart soared as I realized all the struggles to get to this point clearly was clearly worth it. The secretary of the community, Mr. Smart directed us to a room where all the bags of clothes, boxes of food items, cartons of goodies, sacks of food, sandals and packs of drinks were deposited ready to be shared. The children chanted how happy they were to have Folabomi Foundation in their community and even gave us a Love Cheer.
Soon we commenced distribution and clothing of the children. This was where the struggle began. Children were struggling to be the next to be clothed and parents were struggling to have their children and wards clothed. One of the highlights of the day was when the first set of children clothed participated in their first Runway show. The audience, which consisted mainly of the other beautiful children, roared in applause and cheered them on as they strutted down the Runway.
The Runway show was the 3 minutes of sanity before everything went south. Everyone wanted a piece of something at the same time. The volunteers worked as fast as they could, wearing clothes for the children, marking their fingersnails (to identify those that have received an item already), sending them to the food section for their food packs and trying hard to control the many fingers tugging at them for their turn.
A lot was going on. I stopped for a minute to look around and all I saw were hundreds of people trying their very best to get a piece of what was going round. The food boxes were shared to mothers of families and once the clothes were exhausted, sandals were given to children who did not get clothes. The children kept receiving goodies till we exhausted all that we brought. I wish in my heart we could have done a whole lot more!
Words cannot express the gratitude in our hearts to God first for even making #ClotheTheClothless2020 a reality, next for providing so much for us to contribute our little quota. I say little quota, because that particular community consists of over 700 households and we could cater for only 250 children. The gap is still so wide but we are thankful to be a small part of the solution.
The children, I dare say, were ohh-sooo-gorgeously dressed and their parents were super pleased. And we, most grateful for a successful #ClotheTheClothless2020.
At the end of the day, here is what we have learnt, ” You really never know, until you try.” Regardless of how bad things are, with God by your side, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to achieve.
Immense Gratitude to Our Incredible Distribution Volunteers:
1. Damilola Oyetayo •
2. Babatunde Rachael •
3. Titi Bolaji •
4. Bori Alabi •
5. Titi Adeliyi •
6. Esther Taiwo •
7. Ayoolu Abe •
8. Anita Ladzekpo •
9. Christy Ojo •
10. Esther Osifeso •
11. Ife Shittu •
12. Ebenezar Odunsi •
13. Chiamaka •
14. Ifunanya Mercy •
15. Ayodeji •
16. Gbemisola Akinrotimi
17. Bunmi Ogunjobi •
18. Eniola Soladoye •
19. Caleb Oladipo •
20. David Ogunjimi •
21. Olaolu Akinyemi •
22. Joyhearts •
23. Ojuolape Osinuga •
24. Florence Awosika •
25. Mercy Ojo •
26. Mariam Chidera •
27. Seyi Ogundele •
28. Toluwaleye Odunsi •