Apostle Nnamdi Mbaigbo is the founder and chief executive officer of a non governmental organisation (Tropical Gate Foundation for Sustainable Development) that touches lives in some agrarian communities of Anambra state. In this interview with OKECHUKWU ONUEGBU, he speaks on why the NGO chose to invest in human capital development and other areas.
Give us a peep into what your Foundation does.
Our NGO was born to provide societal needs. We exist to fulfill the mandates of Millennium Development Goals (MDG) which culminated into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Basically, we use youth empowerment, education, health and sports as veritable tools for social integration and tools for human capital development. We started officially in 2015, but in 2021, got registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). For over six years now, this NGO has been interfacing with the people on education, youth empowerment, health, sports and scholarships. We provided sporting facilities to Christ Redeemers College, Amesi.
We provided perimeter fencing to Community Primary School, Amesi at a time kidnapping was more pronounced across schools in the country. We did it to secure the lives of students and staff of the school. I discovered that the school needed it when I passed through the area and saw how vulnerable they were to attacks. It was built to help boost the students morals, self esteem and ego. It restored the confidence of students to the school, thereby encouraging them to become better citizens of their communities and Nigeria at large. We are also into organising and sponsoring of an annual football competitions across many local governments in Anambra state.
You seemed to be engaging more on health. What informed your decision to form this NGO?
I have lost a lot of beautiful souls. (Pointing at several tombs). Here is where my late father was buried. Besides it is where my late grandmother was buried. Across the other building is where my late uncle was interred. They all passed through one ailments or another. I am the first child of the family and I bore the pains of seeing them passed through those processes. I also saw what vulnerable people pass through in hospitals. I saw how some died because they could not pay their medical bills. That was what made me determined to help people achieve their medical or health needs. We have touched over 500,000 lives. We run this outreach three times every year. A minimum of over 100 attend it each time. Some cataract patients have gone for surgeries under us. Over 2,000 eye glasses have been issued to glaucoma patients. The data is available because we are running it with established and trustworthy institutions. The Salvation Army which we are using for the health outreach is keeping the data.
Are there sponsors helping your Foundation to do all these?
We are sponsoring our programmes hundred per cent. I am a consultant. What I am doing is what I call our shared values. I don’t want to call it social responsibilities because we are doing more than social responsibilities. We are not doing it to make profits, but we are open to receive partnership, aids and other kinds of support from people.
What would you say are some of the impacts your NGO has created?
Well, we are receiving lots of testimonies from beneficiaries. The testimonies are encouraging us to do more. Last year, we sponsored 30 persons who had various eye problems to undergo eye surgery. They were all successful. On January 11, 2022 one of them came to inform us that his eyes problems were solved and that he no longer entertains any fear of living with it. He told me that he has been suffering for it for over 15 years during which he was afraid of undergoing surgery. There are many of them who are like that. Whenever they come to us, we sponsor them as well as pray to raise their faith during the surgery. This is a way of saying that we are really creating impact.
It seemed this gesture is restricted to only Amesi and Aguata LGAs. Any plans for expansion to other communities and possibly nationwide?
Yes, we hope that one day, we would have our own so that whatever we do would be done there. Our long term plan is to have infrastructure that would cover all that we do. We are going to establish a peak performance centre, one spot environment for all kinds of activities from aviation to hospitality, olympic centres and others. The peak performance centre is to be sited at Urum, Awka North LGA to enable people access quality health, train or equip themselves in sporting activities. There would also be a well- equipped museum in the centre. We are also planning to reach other states and Africa, but for now, people are coming from all parts of the country to participate in our programmes. We don’t discriminate. Amesi is very close to Imo and Enugu states. People from the neighbouring communities in those states attend the programme along with those within Aguata.
What have been challenges on your way to creating more impacts?
We are still young. I won’t say that finance is our challenge. Finance is not our issue. We need a committed people. We need people who can share this burden with us. People who will volunteer to carry-on projects with us. We need people who can share their times, values, and everything on Pro Bono. We can pay honorarium because we are not for profit. We are here to serve humanity. For organisations to do good, there is need to have a quality manpower. So, we need volunteers who can volunteer their energy for humanity.
Are you building the data of people you helped in order to gather more volunteers?
We are building data. We collect data and inform them. On 11 January this year, we had five students who won our scholarships to Metallurgical Training Institute, Onitsha. The five students are females. We are sponsoring them fully. They are studying Instrumentation and System Control, welding and Fabrication, Mechanical and Maintenance Engineering. We don’t expect anything other than success from them. We rather encourage them to see how they can assist others and be humanists.
What is your advice to people who often deviate from serving God through NGO to selfish ventures?
I can only speak for myself. I cannot judge anyone. I don’t want to make comments on men of God. Let God who they are serving do that. We are not church and my NGO does not have the intention of going into a church now or in the future. I am for Salvation Army. My parents were of Salvation Army. I was born into Salvation Army. And I wish to continue using that platform to reach the unreached.
In this part of the world, people use NGO to launch into full time politics. Do you have intention of doing that?
I am a humanist and has been involved in humanism. Every part of me is to propagate human expression, but I cannot say no or yes to your question how. However, in a every area I find myself, I try to serve humanity alone. I would keep offering my time and energy to that. We are not desperate people. If God says we should serve Him in another direction, we would humbly oblige that. I won’t resist it. In whatever I do, I invest my time, energy and all to serve humans. If it doesn’t come around, we won’t complain because we are not desperate.