In this exclusive Interview with Emmanuel Akaolisa and Chikamso Okoye of The News Chronicle, Dr Maimuna Bashir Tukur, Founder and executive director of Adija Memorial Foundation, a humanitarian NGO, speaks on the activities of the Foundation to improve lives in the society among other issues.
TNC: Good morning Dr. Maimuna, it is nice to meet you and feature you in our interview series. We will like to know more about you and the Adija Memorial foundation, its mission and vision.
Dr. Maimuna: Thank you for having me, I am Dr. Memuna Bashir Tukur, a Medical doctor and a practising physician. I am the founder and the executive director of Adija Memorial foundation.
Adija Memorial foundation is a non-governmental and non-profit organisation, founded five years ago but became fully active three years ago. It was built on the mission and vision of contributing to the betterment of the lives of Nigerians. The foundation was set up to help enhance the quality of lives of citizens of this country by supporting initiatives that can improve the access to affordable health care, educational opportunities, and also empower women and young girls to realize their dreams and potentials.
TNC: Since this is an NGO and non-profit organization, sometimes the requirements for funds might be quite enormous, so how do you manage to fund and keep the foundation running?
Dr. Maimuna: Expectedly, every organization, whether for profit or not for profit will have the need for funding, especially startups, so also this foundation. I have actually been funding this foundation myself right from the inception, with the help of friends and family. With the little we have, we have been carrying out programs and activities, and hopefully, we will be able to get attention, support and partnerships from international bodies and others around the world when they must have seen the good works we do, which will aid us to go further and achieve our goals.
TNC: What is the reach of Adija Memorial foundation, where do your activities cover, is it the whole of Nigeria or just some part of the country?
Dr. Maimuna: As I said earlier, we are barely five years and are still in the process of growing, but I can proudly say that we have carried out successful programmes across Adamawa and Abuja and hope to expand to other states of Nigeria and one day reach out to the whole world.
TNC: It is commendable to know that your activities have reached as far as Adamawa considering the security challenge in neighboring Borno, how have you been able to do this in spite of the risk?
Dr. Maimuna: It is safe to say that Adamawa state is quite stable now and free from insurgency, even in Borno state, it is just part of the rural areas that are still facing the problem. However we have IDPs that have migrated from Borno to Adamawa and I have carried out successful programs in those IDP camps; for instance, the Malkohi camp in Adamawa where we distributed clothing and foodstuff, we also did health talk for them about COVID-19 prevention and hygiene, cervical cancer awareness, HIV tests and so on, and it was quite a success.
TNC: How has the foundation streamlined its activities and focus, for example there are some organizations that just focus only on IVF, some eye issues and so on?
Dr. Maimuna: We are aligning our programs to the SDGs, the seventeen Sustainability Development Goals, however, we are inclined to seven of those goals for now – Zero Hunger, No Poverty, Clean Water, Sanitation, Good Health and Well-being, Gender equality and so on, there are other goals but those are the ones that align with the vision and mission of my foundation.
TNC: Not everyone thinks in the direction of impacting lives, for example most youths often think of how to leave the country, others think of how to loot public resources; so tell me what your inspiration is, how did you come up with this foundation?
Dr. Maimuna: I feel a great sense of responsibility to humanity, having come from a privileged background. Also, seeing people in the North-East community in need: girls marrying early without their potentials being harnessed, their future being stolen from them, education being deprived them; so I feel it is a responsibility of mine to make people’s lives better, to educate and empower them, because when you educate a girl child, you educate the world. Someone needs to empower these people, put them in leadership roles. I feel I am their voice because not everyone might have the opportunity to be a medical doctor but through the activities of the Adija Memorial Foundation every voice can be heard.
TNC: You know it’s not just about giving handouts, people will say don’t give me fish, teach me how to fish; so apart from helping make their lives easy, do you also empower these women and children so they can earn a living themselves?
Dr. Maimuna: Yes we do empower these people, we even have an upcoming skills acquisition program in January in Adamawa State which will be coordinated by my Co-founder, Mrs Sakinat Damare, it is all about empowering youth, women and children. They will be tutored on so many things like how to do crafts and so on, which will help them sustain themselves, thereby help to decrease the poverty and unemployment rate in the country.
TNC: About the skill acquisition, it is believed that the government is not carrying out their obligations by creating job for people but always telling them to go and get skills and empower themselves, so do you think entrepreneurship is what anybody can do or it’s just for some select few?
Dr. Maimuna: I don’t think entrepreneurship is for everybody because not everyone is skillful, but the ones that are skillful deserve help and empowerment from the government and foundations like mine. For example when I went to Abuja IDP camp in Area 1, I met some women and saw how skillful and handy they are. All most people need is technical know-how and capital so they can harness their potentials, and this is one of the goals of my foundation, which is to properly empower these skillful set of people to do exploits.
TNC: As a medical practitioner, I want to know your take on the healthcare system of this country, do you think the government is doing its job well, like the issue of doctors leaving the country for greener pasture, what do you think is the solution to the problem of health care in Nigeria?
Dr Maimuna: There are gaps in the Nigerian healthcare system, and the government alone cannot fill them, that Is where the NGOs come in to assist the government by creating awareness and acting on health insurance, food, water hygiene, sanitation and so on. However, about the brain drain, the doctors are not properly paid, their allowances not issued, their insurances are so poor compared to those in the senate who also depend on the doctors for living. Looking at all these, doctors simply travel to countries where their skills are valued very well, leaving the Nigerian healthcare system depleted. So though the government may be trying, it needs to do better in the welfare of doctors in this country so as to avoid further brain drain.
TNC: Finally, we will like to know of any future plans of Adija Memorial Foundation?
Dr Maimuna: It has been a very great journey so far, we hope to reach more people and communities, and impact their lives and get results. I will be having a [blood drive] this December, which is so personal to me because I was so ill and almost lost my live, I had a postpartum hemorrhage which I lost a lot of blood and was transfused with a total of 18 pint of blood. So blood saved my life, blood donation saves life, that is why this blood drive is special to me and I hope people turn out and see the importance of blood. As a member of the Medical Women Association of Nigeria and the former coordinator of Young Doctors Forum FCT, my goal is to advocate for and empower girls and women. We have successfully staged a lot of programs and hope to stage more that will better lives of everyone in the society.