Lydia Ina has been nominated by journalist Abigail Reid, of The Voice publication. Abigail says “After a life-threatening operation grandmother Lydia Ina from Fallowfield in Manchester found her calling in helping abandoned children in Nigeria.
Through her charity, the Gapolunya Foundation, ‘Aunty Lydia’ has now fulfilled her dream of opening a purpose-built home for the children who were left to die.
Moved by reports on Nigerian news channel, NTA, of children being seriously harmed or killed due to accusations of sorcery, Lydia, who was born in Nigeria, went on her first mercy mission to Calaba in 2009.
She was horrified at how badly the children were treated and made the drastic decision to sell many of her belongings, including her car and sofas, to buy items that she could ship to Nigeria and help the children.”
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Who has you helped/who will she help?
“Lydia set up the charity, Gapolunya Foundation, which was registered in 2012. Gapolunya is Lydia’s late mother’s name, who was known as ‘mother of the nation’ because of the contributions she made to the community.
Lydia’s efforts are now supported by a team of Trustees and it is a real community venture. In addition to an annual fundraising dinner dance, members of the Manchester community leave donations of clothing and in Nigeria, the locals bring similar items as well as food. But it was in 2019 that the work of the charity finally helped Lydia to achieve her dream of building an orphanage.
The new building provides a home for nine children and sixteen more are housed with local families with financial support from the charity. All of the children, who range in age from 7 to 17 years, have their school fees paid.”
“Lydia has fought tirelessly to ensure that the children’s needs are met. She receives no support from the Government in Nigeria. She has galvanised whole communities into action (both in the UK and Nigeria) and her home acts as a warehouse for the food, clothing and footwear donations that she receives on a weekly basis from people in the community who wish to help.
The charitable events that she organises pay for school fees, and there is also a farming project on the land to support subsistence. Lydia received her second award from the Manchester Evening News this year.”
What has she learned? Any challenges?
“Lydia sold her personal belongings to help fund the mission. Her friends and family thought she had gone mad. What she has proved is that where there is a will strong enough there is a way.
Even when she had the door slammed in her face by the Nigerian Government, who would not offer any financial assistance to save these children, her strength of character meant that she was resolute in her mission to save them.”
“Lydia wants to increase the charity’s capacity to help more disadvantaged street children in Nigeria and ensure that their life prospects are good. With expansion, she can build more rooms and hire more staff and/or support more local people to house the children via private fostering arrangements.”
What advice, contacts, or resources would help her?
“The global pandemic has really hampered efforts to fundraise. There are no funds to pay school fees and as such the children are not currently permitted to go to school. Lydia desperately needs assistance to continue fundraising and immediate monetary donations, all of which can be achieved by raising the profile of the organisation.”
Why we’re sharing these stories
Each year, an individual or organisation from each of our five categories plus one exceptional judges’ choice individual is recognised at our annual Igniting Inspiration celebration event.
We publish each and every nomination to raise awareness of all the positive work that goes on in the North. While, this year, our physical event had to be deferred, our campaign to spread stories of positive social impact continues – good news is needed!