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Unbelievable! This Lagos NGO gives free meals thrice a week

A group of less privileged individuals defied the heavy downpour on October 2, 2017, to benefit from the free meals provided at the Candlelight Foundation Centre; an NGO devoted to feeding the needy.
More than 165 poor and homeless people attended the charity occasion at No. 39 Oyekan Road, off Ogunlana Drive, Surulere. Aged between age 12 and 60, they came from various places to the event organized by the foundation to commemorate the Independence Day.
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 The Candlelight, a charity foundation with no political or religious affiliation, aims to feed thousands on the street of Lagos and keep them away from crime, poverty and hunger.
The executive director of the NGO, Uzoamaka Okeke emphasized the imperative of eradicating hunger. “Food is the most basic and the most important need. You can hardly achieve any other need if you have not been fed. You are hungry every day and you must eat every day. If you do not eat, you cannot do anything, you’re not productive, you’re not able to focus on anything, you cannot apply for a job, you cannot sit for an interview, you cannot think of anything else,” she said.


 Since the centre opened its doors on April 24, 2017, it has consistently opened regularly on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 am to cater to the needy. 
Okeke outlined the objective of the foundation thus: "The actual plan is to open a shelter, a full-fledged homeless shelter, where people who do not have houses can come in and sleep. They get up in the morning and go about the day and then come back in the night and sleep. We give free food, free shelter. And we want to open a vocational centre.”



She also gave a picture of the current operation of the foundation: “Three days a week and we see about 130 people within 30 minutes. Once it is about 11 am, they are already at the gate. They push the gate open and run in, they write their names and come in and eat, and most times, the food finishes before we can get to everyone and sadly have to turn some away. Initially, we started with only Jollof rice and fish. Now we have introduced beans and garri.”
One of the beneficiaries, Frank Onochie, a BRT driver, told THE SUN his experience. “I became aware of the foundation two months ago. My neighbors and my children told me about it. At first, I didn't believe them about this free food. I said there couldn’t be anything like that, that there is a foundation that gives out food to the needy. I didn't believe until my daughter told me that the food is good. Giving them the benefit of doubt, I came, and seriously, I enjoyed the food. Since then, I have been coming here twice a week, especially when I am off duty. It is a relief to me because if I want to eat outside, I will spend close to N300.  Now, I save the money and give it to my children to take to school.”
Onochie came with two of his children to the centre, one of whom interrupted him to tell him: “Daddy, they have called your number, 21." After getting his free meal, Onochie returned to add: "If we have this kind of thing in about four places, I think it will reduce hunger, poverty, and crime. When you are hungry and thinking of how to make money to eat, the situation is bleak if you have no job. But if you have a place to eat before nightfall, there is hope. This foundation has become a place of hope for us.”
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