Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation, IIF recently launched Project 40by40, an initiative to grant 40 couples re-productive interventions through in vitro fertilisation. This is the wish of IIF founder, Ibidunni Ighodalo before she transited on 14th June, 2019. In this interview, the chairman of the foundation, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, said the board is determined to ensure that Ibidunni’s last wish is fulfilled to put smiles in some families. He appealed to corporates and individuals for financial support to assist down-trodden childless couples who are going through emotional and psychological trauma. An IVF treatment costs about N3m –N4m. Excerpts
What is Project 40by40 all about?
This was the last wish of my wife and founder of Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation to use her 40th birthday which supposed to come on July 19, 2020 to support 40 couples to have their own children through in vitro fertilisation process. The board is continuing with her wish. In 2016 she established IIF to support couples after she encountered other women who faced this procedure, the pain, the challenges and the emotions of sometimes failed procedures and the financial burden. She encouraged adoption but those who did not want to adopt are encouraged to go through the procedures. In 2016, the foundation took 12 couples with 40% success. My wife’s desire through this foundation was to ensure that she brought happiness and joy to many couples.
What is the selection process for applications on the 40by40 project?
Application is online from any part of the country. We don’t need to know anybody to apply for this grant. We are also going to use the online process to weed out those who are not qualified. Our criteria are well spelt out. The applicant must be legally married for at least 5 years with evidence of childlessness. The grant is for those who cannot afford the cost. This will be determined by the combined income of the couple. The couple must have the resources to look after the in-coming child. The couple must be responsible citizens. The wife must be below 50 years of age for medical and psychological reasons. After computer selection of those who are physically fit for the treatment, there may be ballot from the lot to choose the 40 couples. 36 couples will represent 36 states of Nigeria, one from FCT and three couples representing the three regions of Nigeria. This is to bring together parts of Nigeria, bring fruitfulness to Nigeria, and ensure united Nigeria.
How do you want to raise the about N160 million for this project?
When she passed on, friends and associates decided to carry her wish out with intention to put smiles on faces of some families. This is therefore a call for support to members of the society to carry out this wish. Some have responded already. Classmates and friends have supported. Each procedure costs about N3m –N4m. We believe God that this is achievable with support from Nigerians.
What makes the foundation stand out from other foundations?
I don’t know of other foundation that focuses on in-vitro fertilisation. I know some foundations do motherless babies home, mother and child counselling, scholarships but I am not aware of any that focuses on assisted re-production. The thinking is that assisted reproduction is for the rich, but my wife who had passion, love for the people and down-trodden decided that nobody should be denied the opportunity of good health facility just because they cannot afford it. For this initiative to be done in Nigeria by Nigerian is extremely a good development.
As chairman of the board, what has been your level of involvement before now?
I was playing advisory role and support and making my contact base available. My wife did most of the thinking and strategy but I helped to tick the boxes and to raise some needed money. But now she is no more, my involvement has to be much more until the foundation can stabilise.
How would you describe the kind of person your wife was?
People said my wife was an angel. Really, we can look back and describe her as an angel. I was told that her father actually called her an angel when she was born. An angel is a bringer of good news, helper of men, and communicator with God. An angel is a comforter and that is what my wife was. She had her fault but was quick to correct herself and she was extremely humble. My wife went out of her way to help people.