Roland Ochada, a 27-year-old Nigerian, who has found a calling in feeding poor children roaming the streets, spoke to PREMIUM TIMES about his passion and what motivates him.
Mr Ochada , a graduate of the University of Ibadan, is yet to be employed after the completion of the compulsory one year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
In his interview with PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter, Mr Ochada explained how the struggles he faced before gaining admission into the university and experiencing a child die of hunger motivate him to feed poor children on the streets.
Mr Ochada, from Enugu State, says he has been involved in humanitarian projects since he was a child, but ventured fully into feeding children on the streets when he was serving his fatherland in Sokoto State in 2019.
Being the son of a caterer, Mr Ochada cooks the meals himself, packs the food and distributes to poor children and less-privileged people on the street.
Mr Ochada , who nurses the idea of running a Foundation, ‘Roland Ochada Foundation’ to cater for poor children, said financial constraint is a hindering block as he is unemployed and the little donations he receives from people only help to a small extent.
PT: Can we meet you?
Roland: My name is Roland Ikenna Ochada and I am from Enugu state. Basically, I have no job; so I decided to go learn a trade since I couldn’t get a job after my NYSC. I finished from the University of Ibadan where I studied Geography.
PT: How long have you been feeding children on the streets?
Roland: I have been doing these humanitarian projects since I was small, my mom was a food seller for a long time and it was from the food selling that she was able to train me and my sisters in school with the help of my father (a retired police officer). My mom sold food but I want to be giving food freely to those who find it difficult to get what to eat. Also, I struggled hard for a long time before I could get admission into the university. I have always said I would attend my convocation in a grand style but I couldn’t because then I was serving my fatherland in Sokoto State. So, I made up my mind to celebrate my convocation at an orphanage home in Sokoto. When I got there, the children were so happy to see me, they held my hands and prayed for me. I was moved to do more by feeding the kids on the street.
PT: When did you make the decision to fully embark on such an assignment?
Roland: During my service year in 2019
PT: What motivates you?
I have seen a child die of hunger before. So, each time I walk on the street and see children beg for food, I am motivated to give the little I have on me. I was not born with a silver spoon and, as a matter of fact, my mum sold food for more than 20 years and my dad is a retired policeman. I am always moved to help people on the street, especially children.
PT: Are there specific goals you want to achieve by doing this?
Roland: Yes, I wish to put smiles on people’s faces, making people understand the importance of giving a helping hand to the less -privileged, and giving hope to the hopeless. I wish to feed more children.
PT: Do you receive funding?
Roland: No, I have been doing the charity work from the little money I saved from my NYSC allowance, although, I got little support from people when the money finished. Helping the needy should not be a one man thing, it should be for everyone. It is sad to see how the poverty rate in Nigeria keeps increasing on a daily basis. I had loved to do more of my charity work but as it stands, I do not have a job and that’s why I continue to solicit help from people. The next project on my desk is “Feeding 500 people in Enugu state” and as it stands now, I don’t have a dime on me, I need support from Nigerians.
PT: What are the challenges you have faced so far?
Roland: The last feeding I did, I received many criticisms. Some people criticised me for adding money on top of the food I shared; some people saw it as a form of ritual, but I actually did that because I did not want a fight to occur while sharing the food.
Some people went to the extent of saying I wore a particular T-shirt for Sokoto feeding and Ibadan own; that I was asked to wear the cloth by one native doctor in order to get famous and riches. Till now, I am poor and as of the time my work was tweeted, I had no Twitter account. There are many challenges I encounter even while trying to show concern to the needy. Reading comments on my last feeding, I was really depressed.
PT: Do you think your gesture, if intensified, can get some children off the streets?
Roland: You will agree with me that many children on the street are talented, some of them only need proper guidance. Getting all the children off the street might be hard but getting some of them off would be possible by engaging them and helping them.
Roland’s Twitter handle is @ochada_roland, phone number: 08106647607.
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