• Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Education for indigent children: The Riverwood Switch Foundation way

Education for indigent children: The Riverwood Switch Foundation way

Mobolaji Oriola is passionate about helping indigent children get into school and also helping low income schools with infrastructure deficit. With his team of over 200 young people, the story of Mobolaji helping children from financially disadvantaged families gain access to education is truly inspiring.

Oriola , founder and president of The Riverwood Switch Foundation, a nonprofit developmental organisation focused on education reform in Africa talks about his journey.

I’ve always had a burning desire to change the face of education in Nigeria. Even though I attended one of the best schools in Nigeria, there was still a challenge with infrastructure and quality of teachers compared to the experience my colleagues had outside the country.

A few years ago, in Ado-ekiti, I saw some kids going to school barefoot, some wearing uniform, some not wearing uniform. When I traced the school which they were headed to, I saw the students sit on the floor, teachers writing on the wall, classrooms with the ceilings removed and potholes inside the classrooms.

I called my friends and told them about my plan to rehabilitate a dilapidated classroom at the school which was situated in a low income community. Luckily, I have amazing friends and about a few us us contributed parts of our feeding allowances and raised enough money to rehabilitate the classroom and even provide learning materials for the students.

We then agreed to set up The Riverwood Switch Foundation and designed an Internally Generated Revenue system where every member contributes a minimum of One Thousand Naira (N1,000) monthly.

We were all students at the University at this point and our funding was based off the allowances our parents gave us. We also agreed that the money we raised will be used to help indigent children in areas of education.

Currently, we have adopted a low cost school with over 160 pupils where we are helping with infrastructure development. We’ve built new classrooms for them, rehabilitated old ones, put some teachers on salaries and allowances and donated learning materials to the school. We have also placed 28 children on full time scholarship for 6 years which will cover school fees payment, provision of bags, sandals, uniforms, sportswear, textbooks and writing materials. It costs us over 1.4 Million Naira annually to provide free education to these 28 children at a cost of N50,000 per child. This excludes how much we spend on infrastructure development, improved learning, teacher support, excursion and others.

As a result of COVID-19 and closure of schools, these kids have been unable to go to school. So, we designed a system of homeschooling for these kids and have put some teachers from their school on a stipend to cover their cost of feeding & transportation. These teachers go to their homes to have 2-3 hour session with the kids. We have also had meetings with google& Kids Innovation Hub to see how we can use technology to accelerate learning in these communities.

Combining my work as a Lawyer & as a Partner for that matter, with my role as the Founder & President of The Riverwood Switch has been very overwhelming, challenging but rewarding. I believe the future of Africa is dependent of the number of Africans who are properly educated and equipped with the requisite globally relevant knowledge and skills. So, for me, this is what I’m passionate about and I must do it. My work as a Lawyer is also important because that is what sustains my livelihood.

On one hand, I’m working on a transaction, closing a deal for a client, preparing a contract or even being in long meetings and on the other hand, I have to coordinate my team at the Foundation to ensure every one is playing their role so that our kids are not lacking anything and their education is going on smoothly. I remember a few days ago, I was at a meeting with a client and I got a text that one of our kids lost his mum. I had to ensure I stayed focused to wrap up the meeting and ensure the clients needs are met and then after the meeting, I had to start making calls to ensure the kid and his family are fine.

So, I can only say that I’m grateful to God for giving me the grace to carry on the two roles effectively and more importantly, for putting me in the position to not just give back, but to empower people.

He is a recipient of Unity Banky’s Humanitarian Award and Professor Smaranda’s Leadership which are in recognition of his work with The Ri v e r w o o d Sw i t c h Foundation. Riverwood’s work has been endorsed by popular celebrities Teni & Daddy Freeze and has been featured on Channels, Silverbird TV, Sahara Reporters, Nigerian Tribune, Bella Naija and others media outlets.

In addition to his role as the Founder & President of The Riverwood Switch Foundation, Mobolaji is also a Partner at Allen & Brooks. Hiswork as a Lawyer includes advising several top- tier clients on energy and natural resources, property development (purchase, construction, lease & sale), company secretarial and incorporation, power/ metering, license transfer, entertainment, arbitration, international corporate restructuring and business strategy. You can read more about him on his firms website: www.allenandbrooks.com

You can visit The Riverwood Switch Foundation’s website via: www.riverwoodswitch.org or follow them on all social media platforms: @ riverwoodswitchfor more information about their work.