A new Nollywood movie ‘Oratory’ dedicated to street children has premiered in Lagos.
An initiative of the Nollywood factory, in collaboration with the Salesians of Don Bosco, it is aimed at raising awareness and support for street children.
It was directed by Obi Emelonye, a Nigerian film director and produced by Cyril Odia, a Nigerian Salesian priest presently serving in Dublin, Ireland.
A salesian, is a member of either of two Roman Catholic religious congregations – one of men and one of women – devoted to the Christian education of youth, especially the less privileged.
At a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday, Gbenga Adebija, the chairperson of the organizing committee of the Oratory, said they received support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), towards the depopulation of children on the streets.
The Oratory tells the story of a Black-American Catholic priest, who, after struggling to find his purpose, was inspired by the life of Don Bosco in Rome, and began his journey to helping others.
Starring in the movie is Enyinna Nwigwe, a Nigerian Actor, Producer, and Creative Entrepreneur. Other actors in the movie are Rich Lowe Ikenna, Florence Okechukwu, Lawrence Nwali, Andrea Ferrara, David Davidson, Stephen Ogunnote, and others.
According to Mr Adebija, the first leg of the Nigerian premiere of the movie was held on November 20, at the Filmhouse Cinemas in Surulere, Lagos, while the second premiere will be held at the Genesis Deluxe Cinema, Ceddi Plaza Abuja on November 27.
“The movie features an impressive array of both Nigerian and international movie stars and was filmed at various locations in Rome, Atlanta, Lagos, and Turin. The Oratory is an internationally acclaimed movie, which has received rave reviews all over the world where it has premiered in places such as Dublin, London, Turin, and Venice.
“Feedback from broad-ranging stakeholders confirm that it was indeed an excellent outing, comparable to other premieres held around the world,” he said.
Mr Adebija said ‘Oratory’ is not just a movie but reminds us individually and collectively of our civic responsibilities towards street children.
“The movie also creates an inclusionary framework for the upliftment (uplift) of homeless, delinquent and juvenile youths who are at risk of negative social issues such as violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, and crime,” he said.
Speaking at the press conference, Denis Onoise, Child Protection Specialist at UNICEF, said the organisation is particular about poor children and how to help them live better lives.
“Sometimes, a lot of them, because of poverty, are not able to go to school, so they are on the street. Many of them are not able to access healthcare. Again, they have a problem being on the streets. Sometimes, they don’t have a home where they can sleep.
“These are the children we are interested in, but we are not able to meet these children and work with them directly. But we have organisations and people who work with children, those we call our partners,” he said.
Mr Onoise said UNICEF works through direct intervention with governments, but a percentage of its financial aid goes to organisations like Don Bosco and the Salesians that help street children.
“We give funding and support for them to be able to do their work and cater for these children on the issues I have raised like education, being on the streets, and healthcare, they need funding,” he said.
He added that street children add to the number of out-of-school children in the country and it is a menace that must be curbed with urgency.
“Street children are children, they are young people that are young, desperate, abandoned and this country has failed them. This is just an open wound and we are just seeing it.
“The attempt of this movie is to use this to call for action. We Salesians, we are priests here, we have a very strong ethos or beliefs in faith in action. Too much preaching, too much talking, extorting money from people, showing off arts and entertainment online, and at the end of the day, nothing is changing,” he said.
Mr Anthony said through periodic projects, the group helps people, especially youths and children on the streets.
He said with the movie project, the Salesians of Don Bosco seek to multiply its effects and reduce the number of children and youths on the street.
The Salesians of Don Bosco, formally known as the Society of Saint Francis de Sales, is a religious congregation of men in the Catholic Church.
It was founded in the late 19th century by Italian priest Saint John Bosco to help poor children during the Industrial Revolution.
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