Hauwa Abbas is Founder/President of Silver Lining for the Needy Initiative (SLNI), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that focuses on health needs of women and children. In this chat with ENE OSANG, she speaks on the NGOs 10th anniversary and why government must revamp the primary health centres across the county, among others.
It’s SLNI’s 10th anniversary, what has the experience be?
Funding has always been the challenge but we have been lucky we started with a little and people were watching and liking what we were doing. So, we started getting partners.
Initially, dealing with the government was a challenge but now we have built a close relationship with them, not only do we execute programmes we sit to discuss a lot of national issues that involves development.
So, we have been so lucky, everything we do is through the support of government and I guess it’s because we stay connected with them and keep informing them.
In 2018, the in-kind donations we got in commodities given to us by partners a value of N27 million consisting birthing kits, vitamin A, worming expectorant among others.
…Any special project to mark the anniversary?
We are lunching Silver Lining Academy which is going to be a training centre in the six geopolitical zones
Tell us more about the NGO?
Ours is an organisation founded on the wings of a young and vibrant woman in leadership. Silver Lining for the Needy Initiative (SLNI) is an indigenous Non-Governmental Organisation legally registered and functional in Nigeria. Established in 2009 and registered on June 15, 2010, with the CAC. Our core strength is community development and volunteerism.
Did your background influence you to initiate this NGO?
I didn’t come from a poor family but from a single parent family. So, I believe that being raised by a strong woman, who was resourceful, an entrepreneur really impacted my life. So, in that sense my background influenced what I am doing.
I feel that things could have been easier if my parents were together but in terms of economic situation it didn’t. For me, it’s a passion helping people.
So, what inspired you to set up this NGO?
SLNI was created under the backdrop of giving comfort, hope and clarity to the less privileged in communities through positively touching the lives of women, children, and youths. Our work aims to address health, water, sanitation issues through women empowerment, civic education, campaigns, advocacy as well as emergencies interventions.
Established on the belief that everyone deserves good health and quality standard of living our projects focus on community development with emphasis on alleviating the inequalities in health delivery and social statues.
How many lives have you touched so far?
We are impacting lives in over 14 states in Nigeria with head office in FCT, Abuja, and state office in Dutse, Jigawa state.
Our focus states are in the North due to high rate of disease outbreaks, illiteracy and poverty in the region. In the past 10 years we have touched the lives of over 100,000 people including those living with HIV/AIDS.
We are known for our ability to mobilise, train, empower and deliver impactful results.
Where do you see SLNI in the next 10 years?
Our aim is to have a future where hope is restored through developing communities and people live above limitations. We are also committed to strengthen the capacity of rural communities towards sustainable maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent healthcare projects.
How do you intend to achieve this?
We are empowering women and youths through skill acquisition, sensitisation and advocacy as a means of improving paradigm of livelihood for children, women, and youth with focus on health, education, among others.
We provide free healthcare services for pregnant women, mothers, and children in rural communities in order to reduce pregnancy related, maternal, and childhood mortality in these communities and Nigeria as a whole.
We also provide health and moral support for families living with HIV/AIDS in rural communities in northern Nigeria.
Why are you concentrating on rural communities?
We raise awareness and educate people living in rural communities on health related issues especially preventable communicable diseases because they need the knowledge more.
We also provide support for orphans and vulnerable children in healthcare as a way of reducing childhood mortality in Nigeria as well as empower communities to be self-sufficient through a wide range of community and social development programs.
So what would you say is the highpoint of your work?
Since the inception, SLNI has demonstrated and recorded unprecedented success in the delivery of its projects and objectives through the initiation and implementation of various community development, interventions programs and activities.
What are your expectations from government?
I think the federal government should increase the budgetary allocation to the health sector to enable improved health care delivery, particularly at the Primary Healthcare centres across the country.
Government is trying but a lot still needs to be done, especially there is need to revamp the primary healthcare centres, and equip them with facilities and resource persons to handle the healthcare needs of citizens.
In 2001 the federal government pledged to commit 15 per cent of the nation’s budget to healthcare but that promise is yet to be redeemed. We are still struggling with achieving 7.5 per cent amidst daring health needs in the country.
As at 2018 we are only on 4.2 per cent of the nation’s budget was dedicated to health and this is not encouraging.
If Nigeria can commit to the 2001 declaration of 15 per cent budget to health that will do a whole lot in the sector, particularly at the primary health care levels because millions of Nigerians live in the rural areas.
There is need to increase budgetary allocation to the health sector and the money should go into primary healthcare because large population of Nigerians are in rural communities. We need to ensure that the primary healthcare centres are equipped to serve the people better.
Have you had any exceptional experience in the course of running the NGO?
Yes, one incident that struck me was one day that we went to a primary healthcare centre to organise a programme and a woman was due to give birth and there was no mattress on the spring the woman was to give birth on, no blanket or baby cot.
We had to go and buy wrapper immediately because there was nothing to cover the baby with, and the mother was in such a low financial situation. She was pregnant and abandoned by the father of the baby and her family. So, she came to the hospital with nothing. If the health centre was equipped it would have served both mother and baby better.
President Mohammadu Buhari should bring on board his cabinet people who are knowledgeable, that understand what the issues are so as to implement policies that will develop the sector.
What we need now are people who can bring out bills or bring out solutions by digging out existing policies because if you look through the policies that currently exist there are lots of good policies that if implemented Nigeria will be better for it.