Arthur Andersen Nigeria and United for Kids Foundation
It was the year 2002. Tope was still a fairly junior staff at Arthur Andersen’s Nigerian office but she knew that she could still find enough people in the firm to give her their spare change to take to the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) station in Victoria Island, so that the sick girl she had seen on NTA Newsline on Sunday night could get some hope and help. After visiting almost all the departments and asking friendly faces for contributions, Tope ended up collecting more money than she thought possible. In fact one of her colleagues, Dupe really shocked her when she handed Tope an envelope bursting at the seams with Naira notes, it must have been about N35,000 (Naira) in the envelope, which was really a lot of money in those days. Did this lady just hand over her entire salary? Tope was shocked and overwhelmed. After giving the money to Tope, Dupe said something about it being a seed she was sowing. The trust displayed by the people she thought might doubt her integrity in a place like Lagos where stories of people misappropriating charitable contributions poured in daily, and the ease with which they gave really surprised Tope. So she asked her colleague, Folake to accompany her to the TV station to drop the money.
Still gushing with excitement and happiness about the impact they just made at NTA, Tope suggested to Folake that they make a quick stop at the Lagos State Motherless Babies Home on Sinari Daranijo street in Victoria Island before going back to the office. She had been forced to do a mandatory community development activity at the orphanage in 1999 but besides the signage at the gate that stated it was an orphanage, she hadn’t noticed anything else about the place since she didn’t go inside the building to see the children. But on that day, she got curious about the orphanage and felt moved to visit briefly, and that curiosity birthed a movement. They had barely entered the orphanage compound when they heard the loud cry of an infant. They approached the caregivers who were chatting, and apparently ignoring the crying child inside one of the rooms. Tope and Folake wanted to know why the child was crying but the women dismissed it as just another unnecessary fussing by an infant. Folake and Tope asked the women if they could go in to see the baby, and the permission was granted. Folake put a finger into the baby’s crib, and magic happened! The child grabbed her finger and broke into the biggest smile ever. It was as if the world stood still in that instant. The ladies left for their office after a few minutes. But this couldn’t be the end of that type of magic.
Unlike the last time when it took 3 years to return to the orphanage, Tope knew she couldn’t waste time anymore, she was scheduled to relocate to the United States in less than 2 months, so if anything was going to happen, it had to happen quickly. The Easter holiday was fast approaching, so she she seized the opportunity to make the rounds again at work to collect not just money but also clothes and toiletries that she and other willing colleagues could take to the same orphanage on Easter Monday. One of the people who jumped on board immediately was her friend in the tax department, Amani Momodu. He agreed to join the visit to the orphanage and also help recruit others in his department too. But there were other surprises, including the participation of Adesuwa, the reserved manager in the legal department. Tope was shocked when she came into the audit pool to look for her because she had never spoken one word to this woman in over two years she had worked in Arthur Andersen. But Adesuwa had heard about Tope’s drive, and even though she could not join the visit on Easter Monday, she wanted to know if she could send her driver with some items for the orphanage. And boy did she send items! Adesuwa’s driver arrived at the volunteers meeting point, the Arthur Andersen office on Gerrard road in Ikoyi, with a car full of almost every delightful thing under the sun.
Tope, Amani, Tope’s sister Tolu, and a few other friends and colleagues visited the orphanage on Easter Monday, April 1st 2002, and it was this visit that began the movement now know as United for Kids Foundation (UKF) later that year. The organization now in its 15th year (2017) has experienced tremendous growth. Now an incorporated nonprofit organization in Nigeria, The United States of America and The United Kingdom, but still a volunteer led organization, UKF now employs 12 program staff in Nigeria. With an annual income of $500,000 in 2016, the organization continued its education, healthcare and social welfare projects, which impacted more than 60,000 children in 15 states of the Nigerian federation in 2016. What began at a work place is now a workplace for its employees, and a relief organization serving thousands of children and their families.
So how will use your current workplace as a platform to make meaningful impact in your community?