NSUKKA, Enugu, Nigeria – Valentine’s Day brings a lot of activities to mind – dining out, classroom parties, flowers and gifts – but some college students here used the occasion to show their love to orphans.
“I feel great. I feel we owe the society a lot, and one way to give back to the society is through charity,” said Henry Ihuoma, president of the Mass Communication Students Association at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka.
Henry Ihuoma, president of the Mass Communication Students Association at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, led the visit to the orphanage. (Festus Iyorah/YJI)
Ihuoma and more than 20 other mass communication students from the school excitedly drove to the Nsukka Motherless Babies Home on Friday with a barrage of gifts for the children, who are desperately longing for visitors.
About eight orphaned babies live in the home, which sees a large number of visitors on Valentine’s Day since people believe it is important to visit on that day.
Some of the students who spent time with the children spoke with excited faces about their experiences.
“I feel wonderful,” said Faith Ehiremen, 18. “I was very happy that I showed them care. This is the best Valentine for me.”
Ihuoma said the decision to visit the Nsukka Motherless Babies Home was borne out of the need to share love with the less privileged in society, especially on Valentine’s Day.
He said that visiting the home is a necessity as it helps to make the babies feel they are part of the society and that people actually care about their welfare.
While Ihuoma and Ehiremen speak of how memorable the visit to the orphanage was, Ijeoma Onwujekwe,18, said she felt happy that she could help to make Valentine’s Day a fascinating one for the babies.
Mary Umeoguaju,18, said she is extremely excited to get to visit the babies.
“It was a wonderful experience; I was happy to see them,” Umeoguaju said.
Lovelyn Chime, 19, was excited to spend time with the children.
“I felt very happy. It’s been my dream to be with kids. I love them. I feel very elated to be there,” Chime said.
Ihuoma observed that while people throng into the home on Valentine’s Day, other days in the orphanage are really dull, as only few people take time to visit.
But visiting the babies should be a priority, said Ihuoma.
“It should be an everyday activity,” Ihuoma said, adding that the children need to be fed. “We should give them the best at this tender age. If we don’t show them this love, the society will suffer the consequences.”
Faith Ehiremen at the orphanage (Linus Okechukwu Unah/YJI)
Onwujekwe said the babies need love more than anything because they are the most vulnerable in the society.
“We should see them always. Our presence there will be greatly appreciated,” said Onwujekwe. “We can organize fund-raising events to help them.”
“It should be part of our life because those kids need us,” Chime said. “You can see that they were very happy to see us.”
Ehiremen said its important to identify with people who truly need support. “True love is not done once in a year,” she added.
Speaking on the need to support orphanages, Ihuoma called on individuals, non-governmental and charitable organizations and the wealthy to fill the needs of those who cannot survive without help.
People should always make time to visit the sick and even those in prison because they are part of the society, Ihuoma said.
“They are part of us,” Umeoguaju said. “It is rather unfortunate that they have few people to care for them. We have to share what we have with them.”
Ehiremen said that as much as the babies need to be loved, they also need help financially and materially. She, like Ihuoma, appealed to well-meaning people in the society to help orphanages.
Though the students had to return to their hectic university schedules, there’s no doubt they’ll always remember this Valentine’s Day at the Nsukka Motherless Babies Home and the sweet children clinging to them.
Linus Okechukwu Unah and Festus Iyorah are Reporters in Nigeria for Youth Journalism International.
Mass communications students from the University in Nsukka spent Valentine’s Day at the Nsukka Motherless Babies Home. (Festus Iyorah/YJI)