Child Advocate, CHRISTIANAH AKINDOLIE Tells City People
Mrs Christianah Akindolie is the Founder and Executive Director of Christianah Fate Foundation, a non-governmental organization tasked with a vision to see children enjoy their childhood free of any form of abuse.
Mrs Akindolie, a B.Sc(ED) holder in Social Studies is a Social Worker, an Associate Member, Institute of Social Work of Nigeria and Member Child Protection Network of Nigeria. She is also trained as a Child Protection Advocate at the Kidpower Child Protection Advocates Institute, California – USA, using and teaching safety skills from Kidpower Program. She is a Certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner.
This pretty lady who works as an Administrator in a Government establishment devotes her time after work and during the weekends to speak at conferences, faith-based organizations, schools, communities on Family Safety Issues. She is a well sought after speaker who has trained and educated thousands of children, parents and teachers with dedicated team members.
She runs Child Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention seminars in different communities in Nigeria to educate parents, teachers and religious groups. She has also spoken On Television and radio stations both in Nigeria and abroad. Her organization runs an office called the Child Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention Centre.
Recently at a Special Parents Workshop, tagged “Our Children; Our Future” organized by De Beautiful Beginning School, in partnership with Christianah Fate Foundation, City People Assistant Editor SUNDAY ADIGUN spoke to her about the role of the mother in raising a Godly home, and the sign every parent must look out for in detecting early if a child is under the torment of an abuser.
Tell us the other sides of Christianah Akindolie we don’t know about.
Christianah Akindolie is a mother a wife, and most importantly a child safety advocate, what I do is, I educate children about sexual abuse and low to keep safe, I also educate parents on how to keep their children safe, then lastly I also train teachers, so that they can help children that are going through abuse or help children notice the sign of child sexual abuse and I also run an NGO called Christianah Fate Foundation, and what we do is that we go to communities, we educate members of the community about how to keep their children safe and we’ve done a lot of projects.
There is one that is very dear to my heart, “it shouldn’t hurt to be a child school community project” so we go to public schools, we give out materials which I called “Child Safety Tools”, we give it out to them, they are in books book format, and they are in Posters, we give it out to children, we educate them, because I believe that prevention is better than cure, so when you educate a child about sexual abuse, you protecting that child, the child know what to do when there is danger just like we have safety signs everywhere, so also we need to keep our children abreast of the situation around them and to ensure that they are safe providing information to enable them keep safe anywhere they find themselves.
What inspired that foundation, was it based on your calling or you’ve had a similar experience when you were young?
I would say it’s a calling, because as a Christian, we need to find purpose in life, and as a young lady, my father was a Pastor though he’s late now, he was running a Church and I was put in charge of the children church, from there I started having passion for Children, I wanted to get close to children. So I started teaching children as a young girl, then I grew up, when I clocked 40, I started feeling empty within me that I needed something.
I wanted to find my purpose in Life so as I was praying and having some private time with God. God minister to me to go to a certain school that is not too far from my place to talk to the girl about virginity, how to keep their virginity because that was what I was promoting then, in the process of talking to the girls I realized that some of them came to me to tell me that some body was touching them, infact there was a girl that was actually abused by a gateman then and she was crying that she didn’t tell anybody, and that one dream I had that there is something more to it.
So I started researching and that was when I found out that it was actually called sexual abuse and because of that I took up that mantle, I started going to schools, infact the first school that I went to, I went to talk to Parent Teacher Association there and they came in about 10 min but I ended up speaking for 30min because they were like this is a new thing and that was about 9 years ago, and I started telling them what sexual abuse are, and ever since I have not looked back, this is 9 years of doing I’m 49, and I have not looked back its becoming challenging everyday because abusers are devising new means of abusing children, but parent are just closing their eyes, they are living in denial, but God has raise us up to open the eyes of parents and to help them get knowledge so that they can protect their children because I believe that prevention is better than cure.
What were the challenges you faced at the initial stage of starting the foundation?
There a lot of challenges, infact it almost drew me back, but because the passion was very strong I couldn’t look back, then people were not talking about sexual abuse, they believe that it’s a taboo when you talk about sex, especially when you go to churches they don’t want to hear about it, infact one particular pastor told me that,
“How can you be discussing sex in Church, I threw us away, but I was ever determined to continue and some people accepted us actually because anything that has to do with the children, people are very emotional when it comes to their children, but years late this same Pastor called me back and said” Please ma, there is a case we are handling one girl was abused and all that” and I said but I came to your church years back and now you need me, but it was challenging at that time there was no funds, but God has helped us till now, this is our 9th years and we’ve gone to so many places, we’ve even traveled out of the country to talk to people about sexual abuses, I’ve gone to conference talking about it, and I’ve never relent on my effort.
As an Advocate, what can you say are the roles of the mother in a family to raise a Godly family?
Mothers have a very important roles to play in taking care of children in a home, in those days when we are growing up, you know mothers stays back at home, somebody like me, my mother stayed back at home to take care of us, and I was very close to my mother then, but what do you find today, you find many women, well you don’t blame them, they have to help their husband financially because of the financially difficulties people are facing, you will find out that so many mother work, the fathers too work.
So they are virtually out of the house all the time and they now transfer there duties, delegate their duties to nanny and relatives and because of that they take advantage of the children, but mother is suppose to show care, they are suppose to take care of the children, themselves, that is why you see house girl bathing the children and in the process they are touching their private part, but when the mother is there bathing the children themselves I don’t think would want to abuse them, so because mothers are not playing their role, people that should care for children, take care of their home front, that is why you find children are now exposed to abuse mothers are suppose to guild their children because there is a lot of confusion in the world today and children need role models, they need somebody that will hear them, that will listen to them, that will accommodate them, but they are not there at all, mothers are not there to actually listen to their children, a mother is suppose to be a good listener, listen to your children, when you children are having issue, they should be able to come to you and say
“Mummy this is what is happening to me, especially the teenage girls, they don’t have role models anymore, they go to the internet and find out about the celebrities as their role model, a mother should be a role model. Our mothers those day we are looked up to them, if our mother moves this way we move to them, but this days mothers are not even there, so how can they be role model when they are not available, they are not role models anymore, the role of the mother can not be de-emphasised in all ramification, a mother should be a home maker, somebody that bring the family together, a mother is a central person in the family, somebody that people should rally round, that bring Unity in the family, but that is not obtainable today.
What are the signs that every parent must look out for in order to be abreast of any form of abuse?
The signs of social abuse, we have the physical signs of social abuse and for parent who are observant you could see cut on that child’s body, it could be in the private part, it could be in the process of bathing that child, the child may start feeling pain in there private part, a child could even have STD, may be discharge from the private part, scratching, young teenager could be pregnant, a child could be bed wetting all over again, those are physical signs, then we have a physiological signs or behavioural signs, if a child is scare of a certain person or a certain location the child ordinarily getting scared of a certain person that come to the house or come around, or it could even be a teacher, and the child says “no I don’t want to go there, I don’t want to talk to him”
It means that there is something wrong and have to take note, If a child also start to have low performance in school, the child is no more doing well in school, the child is always sleeping in class, or the child had nightmares, scream from the dream then you know that something is wrong, or the child mutilates himself or herself, cut himself, those are the signs of sexual abuse that the parent has to observed. Some children will even run away from home, we have some house help that are brought from maybe villages and because the father of the house is abuse her, she ran away from that home, that is part of abuse too.
So what is your world of advice to mothers out there?
For mothers reading this, you have to watch over your children, keep watch over them, don’t trust anyone with your child, because anybody can abuse a child, keep watch over your child, make sure that you are close to your child.
The key would there is change, once you observe any change in the way your child talks, in the way our acts the behaviour of your child, start asking questions, observation is key also, observe your child like a mother who discovered her daughter was abused when she was bathing the child, the girl was having pain in the private part, and she was bathing her and the child saying Mummy don’t touch,
if the mother is not observant, it would have been another thing, but the woman was observant, took the girl to the hospital, and a series of test they discovered that the child was already going through abuse. So mothers need to be very observant, then they need to establish close relationship with the children, if you are not close to your children this time around the internet is there to take the attention, friends are there to take their attention, you will find out that children are always on the phone for hours, they don’t even have conversation with their parents.
So please as mothers get closed to your children and have good relationship with your children, teach them the names of their private part, and tell them that nobody has a right to touch their private part if anybody touches them they should come and tell the mother, be open to your child, tell your child
“look I’m ready to help you, anybody that abuse, you should come and tell me and you will see that the child will always come, make sure that you are opened to the child, discuss sex education with that child, don’t hide anything from the child, so that the child will know that Mummy will have a listening ear I can come tell Mummy, always trust your child, some people don’t believe their children, when they tell them, Mummy this person touch me, they will should on the child that “It’s a lie its because you don’t want to do lesson that is why you are saying he touched you,” and many lesson teacher they do that a lot. So that is my advice to the mothers.