Childrearing, especially in recent times is a responsibility which should be carried out by both a father and a mother to share the various tasks that come with it. In the case of single parents, the situation is different; either the available father or mother is solely responsible for the child or children and this is no easy feat. From food, shelter, education, medicals and even to giving them attention could be enormous challenges for them.
With all these, finding succour and support is one thing they always yearn for and this is why Single Parents in Africa – SIPIA, an NGO focused on supporting single parents in the continent is making efforts to alleviate the living conditions and put smiles on their faces. It was founded by Valerie Effik, a young lady who has equally gone through the troubles of single parenthood.
For Valerie, “people easily give up on single parents and this makes some of them feel they do not have prospects in live because of they had a child out of wedlock, rape victims or experience failed marriages. They are all humans and this situation can befall anybody”, she says.
Her experience and inspiration dates back to when her mother, who was equally a single parent abandoned her at 3 months for shame sake, went to Lagos and never came back. “I can imagine how she didn’t want to be stigmatized and wanted to live a normal life but at the cost of leaving her first fruit behind”.
In the case of Valerie, “lack of attention made me find solace in the arms of my childhood friend who later became my daughter’s father who is late now. And my family thought I had failed them and wanted to marry me off to my son’s father just to erase the shame. I refused to get married at 18 because I wanted to go back to school but no one would send me. Eventually I ended up pregnant again”, she states.
“I stood my ground of not being married and got a job, went through school all by myself while caring for 2 kids and today, so far, God has shown me mercy. So I want to help people who are having difficulties of parenting alone; women and even men to get past anything while still loving their children”.
Her idea of SIPIA is to be an African movement where there will be funding made available for education, skills acquisition, medicals, start-ups et al, while also recognizing and awarding people for managing to raise kids alone while breaking boundaries in their different endeavours.
To kick off the project, the NGO recently facilitated a training in Uyo which saw 8 single mothers undergo training in cooking and pastry making and bead making. It also featured social media marketing session by Hypestation Nigeria to help them maximise their use of New Media to reduce cost in marketing their products and services. The SIPIA debut empowerment training was also supported by Youth Alive Foundation, Luscious Food Empire, Edible Cravings, Wilson’s Juice Co. and U.S based Quantum Leap Group.
SIPIA hopes to reach more single parents across Nigeria and expand to other African countries in the nearest future with the support from donor agencies and corporate organizations and individuals to make this dream a reality.