Arit Aduke Abolade is the founder and executive director of Stella Teaching and Relief Foundation (STAR Foundation), a nonprofit organization that operates out of Abeokuta, Ogun State.
A graduate of Microbiology, she holds a diploma in Missions from Christian Missionary Foundation, and currently works full-time as a Christian missionary with vulnerable children in rural areas. She talks to Joy Ehonwa about working with children.
CN: What inspired you to set up S.T.A.R Foundation?
I received God’s call to go into full-time ministry as a missionary, shortly after my National Youth Service in 2005. During my youth service program at Aiyepe Ijebu, Ogun State, I was posted to a Community Secondary School to teach. I realized then the poor state of education in rural areas, the lack of enthusiasm in youths towards learning, the level of moral decadence, the effects of poor and unstable backgrounds on most of the children.
In my Senior Secondary Two class then, of about 50 students, I had several young mothers, and most students could barely communicate in the English Language. I was appalled by the state of things and decided to start an NGO, REAP- Rural Educational Advancement Program. It was a character, skill and developmental training program for youths/secondary school students living at Aiyepe at the time, in order to address some of the issues. That year, about 60 youths were privileged to benefit from the program.
I returned to Ogun State a few months after my youth service, to continue with the NGO, and work full time as a missionary, evangelizing in rural communities. With my visit to other villages within the state, I realized that most of these conditions of life of youths and children I had noticed in Aiyepe were prevalent. That was when I registered Stella Teaching and Relief Foundation (S.T.A.R. Foundation) as a missions organization to address as much of these issues as possible, especially in the area of education and food relief.
By the grace of God, in 2007, I started a free Nursery and Primary school in Ashabaala village to offer free education to children from Ashabaala, Ashaelegun, Ashaelegbada and Agewen villages, in Obafemi-Owode L.G.A. of Ogun State.
CN: What kind of support does the Foundation offer children?
Our focus is on providing educational and spiritual support. Our approach to education is on Christ Centred learning which enables children to be academically and spiritually balanced. We provide spiritual support through discipleship, counselling, camping, retreats and other projects like the prayer book project which was launched in May 2017 to enable us to groom children to be balanced both mentally and spiritually.
The prayer book project was extended to children living in the urban areas as we realized that children’s inability to pray effectively was not only predominant among children living in rural communities, but even among children of elite Christians.
The book which contains prayers for different needs and occasions, and also contains a section for prayer journaling is meant to teach children how to effectively pray at various occasions, and for various needs, helping them find comfortable words to communicate their needs to the Lord as they draw into a deeper and more intimate relationship with him. The book is also meant to encourage children to keep a prayer journal where they can write down their requests and revelations they believe they have received in the place of fellowship with the Lord.
CN: What major challenges have you faced since inception, and how have you surmounted them?
Our two major challenges as a foundation are in the areas of human and financial resources for our projects. Due to the fact that most of our work is done in very remote areas it’s been a challenge getting workers, like teachers who are committed to working in such places. Even with the prayer book project, getting individuals with integrity who are willing to stand as distributors in various areas around the country and help distribute the books without a commission is difficult. Like the Bible says, the harvest is plenty but the labourers are few.
Financially we are often challenged, and many times it limits the capacity of what we desire to do as a foundation because of our limited resources. The mission school in the village runs free of charge. It is our responsibility to provide books, school uniforms and pay teachers.
The “Let the Children Pray”, prayer book project which aims to place a million prayer books in children’s hands, also has its financial weight on the foundation as it costs about N440,000 to print a thousand copies (which makes the cost of production of each copy about N440) and then there is the cost of distribution.
So far God has been faithful in providing from my personal purse, from family and a few close friends.
CN: How can individuals and organisations support S.T.A.R Foundation?
Individuals and Organizations can support S.T.A.R. Foundation by any of these four ways;
- Pray for us!
- Tell someone about S.T.A.R. Foundation. Whether by verbal communication or sharing and re-tweeting messages and posts on social media.
- Make a donation.
Cash donations can be made to our foundation’s account:
Stella Teaching and Relief Foundation, GTB, 0123077069
Or through our gofundme page: https://www.gofundme.com/teach-children-in-nigeria-to-pray
4. Work as a volunteer at our school project or as a distributor for our prayer books.
Address: 15 Soetan Street, Asero Estate, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Website: www.star foundation.org.ng
Instagram: Arit Aduke Abolade