When a group of young, intelligent and vibrant youths stormed Akwa Ibom State some four years ago from the United States of America with an Organization known as AYAYA International with Board of Directors, including: Eno Umoh as President, Shalini Malaki, Director of Operations, Andima Umoren, Director of Philanthropy and Tracy Ekong, Director of Finance, with primary objective of providing for the less privileged, the sick, the orphans and the physically challenged, not many took them serious.
Many thought this is just a group of young guys seeking attention from the public, while to some others; it is a calculated attempt by some yankee boys and girls to attract sympathy from the state government or probably for some political considerations. A few others feel this is just a razzmatazz. But for AYAYA Int’l led by its highly-spirited and pragmatic president, Eno Umoh, the philanthropic gesture shown over the years is their little way of showing love to the less privileged in the society. According to Umoh, “AYAYA International has come to stay!”
Born, bred and schooled in the US, Eno Umoh and his associates (all based in the United States) have no business, whatsoever, coming down to Akwa Ibom to spend their hard-earned resources if not for the unwavering commitment, love and compassion they have for the needy, especially those in Akwa Ibom State, for as they would say: ‘Charity begins at home’.
Just like the wise men in the scriptures who travelled several kilometres to give to the little Jesus when he was born, these great Nigerian/American citizens, annually fly several kilometres from America to Nigeria, defy the present day hardship to render selfless services to humanity; services that have no short, medium or long term economic benefits. They believe they are so loved by God and should as a matter of principle love God in return, and such love can only come through giving. They thus demonstrate that one cannot love without giving.
Leadership especially within the social sphere is considered by many as an opportunity by the man or woman at the saddle to be in total control of proceedings within the system, and at all times call the shot. But leadership for Umoh and his lieutenants in AYAYA is all about selfless service and ultimately, more service to humanity. They consider their commitment to service through the platform; AYAYA International, as an opportunity and privilege to render services to the society beyond whatever they received from the system. This simple philosophy and understanding are the nuggets and the unifying factors that shape the approach, behaviour and importantly define the cordial relationship existing between the leadership of AYAYA and the rest of the team for years now.
Born in Ikot Udo Esang in Onna Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, the president of AYAYA, Umoh, along with his committed and passion-driven associates, has given hope to several communities in the state, through the provision of life changing items worth hundreds of dollars. Some of the beneficiaries of the magnanimity shown by this group are:
Holy Family Sisters of the Needy, located in Ini LGA
St. Louis’ Handicap Centre, Ikot Ekpene
Motherless Babies Home, Onna
Special Victim Centre, Uyo
L.C.N, Ikot Otong Children’s home
Friends of the Needy Home, Okobo
Asked where the inspiration and commitment to assuage the plight of the needy arose from, Umoh, who is the Chief Operating Officer of Global Air Media in Baltimore, USA, has this to say: “Every day we get to read in the newspapers and watch on Television the high level of poverty in our country, especially among the less privileged, displaced persons, physically challenged and several others, and this is quite disturbing and unfortunate.
“While these sets of persons are living in squalor and abject poverty, some others live in unimaginable affluence. The disparity between the poor and the rich in our country is quite alarming.
“The government has been doing quite a lot in helping the needy. International organizations have been quite supportive. Individuals as we hear have also come in to salvage the situation. But I think a lot is still needed to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, or better still reduce the poverty level in our country,” Umoh noted.
For Tracy Ekong, Director of Finance AYAYA International, “When we get to read stories like this, we always draw the attention of our parents to probe into why such negative stories would be associated with Nigeria. But their responses at all times have always been that we also have the responsibility of impacting on the lives of the less privileged in our society. They always let us understand that government alone cannot do everything.
“So we decided to help the less privileged, especially the Orphans, Physically challenged and the internally displaced children in Akwa Ibom. And we are doing this through our NGO, AYAYA International. We initiated and started AYAYA some four years ago. It runs an annual social programme in Nigeria that comes up in the month of May.
“We raise monies by ourselves, buy several academic and other relevant materials and distribute to the various organizations that directly see to the welfare of our target. This we are bent on sustaining for as long as possible”, Ekong submitted.
For Andima Umoren – the director of philanthropy of AYAYA International, providing educational materials for the vulnerable children to enhance their academic knowledge is the most important and impactful exercise AYAYA has embarked upon over the years. “If you asked me, I would say that the greatest achievement we have recorded as a group is impacting on the academic lives of these vulnerable children. Every other item provided them is secondary. With proper and solid educational upbringing, you are most s certain that the future can only be but bright for these kids”.
In her submission, Shalini Malaki, who directs the general operation of AYAYA, said: “Four year on the line, we as a group are very satisfied with the improvement seen in the general well-being of the different homes AYAYA has visited. The children academic and social well-being has improved tremendously. Some of the kids now speak like some of us with American accent, and this gives us complete joy. It shows that our efforts and resources have been properly utilised. Our parents are key to the success of this exercise. They support and encourage us to help people irrespective of social, political and ethnic divide. What we do bring us closer to our people; the people of Akwa Ibom. This gesture will continue for as long as possible.”
Gestures such as these are what we often advocate through the platform FOR THE LOVE OF NIGERIA, and indeed, the continuous impact of AYAYA Int’l on the lives of the under-privileged and physically challenged in the state, especially in a period like this where there is global hardship and paucity of funds should be commended, encouraged and replicated in our society. And with partnership coming from credible organization such as: USAID, University of Uyo and Akwa Mfon Association, USA, continuous services to humanity by AYAYA International would only get better. This organisation needs our support and encouragement, for by so doing, our society will be a better place. Indeed, the AYAYA philanthropic disposition is truly FOR THE LOVE OF THE PEOPLE.