Meet Corps Member Who Renovated 16 Toilets And Bathrooms In Borstal Institute
Evelyn Oghenefegor Ikogba is a graduate of Mass Communications from the University of Benin and completed her mandatory NYSC in October 2020. The 25-year-old received accolades when she singlehandedly raised funds to renovate eight toilets and eight bathrooms for juvenile offenders at the Borstal Training Institute in Kaduna State. She speaks with Arewa Trust Weekly about her motivation for the project and what she is now up to.
What brought about the need to embark on renovating the toilet facilities at the Borstal Institute?
I’ve always had a passion for juvenile delinquents and so during the lockdown, I just started wondering what they were up to during the lockdown. I started researching and found out that the oldest juvenile home, which is Borstal was just close to my house in Barnawa. This was in January, before the lockdown. And so, I went to the facility to get information and later went back to do my research and I found out that the man who started the Borstal system was an Englishman and was my namesake; Sir Evelyn Ruggles-Brice, and I felt that connection. The reason why he did it was that he wanted to separate the young offenders from the adult prisoners and according to him, it shouldn’t be punitive in nature, he wanted a system that would help them educational and vocational wise. Then, within that month, our Local Government Inspector came to inspect us and told us about CDS and so I jumped into that platform.
How much was spent on the overhaul?
The first time I did my budget, we came up with N800,015 but by the time we started the work, we noticed the price of goods had been hiked and what we ended up spending was N1.2 million to renovate eight toilets, eight bathrooms, one soakaway and then we painted the whole building, changed the ceiling and fixed all the bathroom and toilet doors because there were no doors in the bathrooms and toilets. We could have spent more than that but a lot of things came up as materials while others came as services. For instance, the tiles came from West African Ceramics but my primary source of funding was Invicta FM where I was doing my primary assignment. I spoke to everyone I came across, my colleagues, friends, Invicta FM also gave me funds and they linked me with people in the community who could help fund the project. Another company produced all the pipes and there were some people who paid for the workmanship.
Did you have any doubt that you could pull off such a project?
It wasn’t easy, it was two weeks to the deadline that these things began to happen but I was convinced about the work. When I got to Borstal and told them I wanted to do it, they thought I had money or that my parents were rich but they didn’t know I didn’t have a kobo. However, for me, if I’m determined to do something, I go all out for it and so I brought my masons and they broke down everything. We dismantled the whole place and for two weeks, I didn’t have the money but I did it so as to know that there was no turning back. It made me convince people with all my soul and I was emotional about it because I felt the juveniles were my brothers.
Why did you focus on toilets?
There is still a lot that needs to be done in Borstal because I only did one dormitory block out of the four. They have four dormitory blocks with terrible toilets and even their beds, the bunks are not presentable and I feel that is the first place you see in the morning and the last before you go to bed. And that is where they are stuck for like three years and I just felt that it was going to affect them psychologically and so, my idea for the renovation was to do something that could help their minds and to show them that if something this bad can be fixed, there is nothing that cannot be fixed in life.
How did the Borstal management receive your intervention?
They received me very well, they were very receptive and they are very grateful for the intervention. What I really wanted to do initially was to fix their classroom because they didn’t have seats and then I thought about it; is this their most pressing need and then seeing the toilets and thinking of the health implications, I felt the toilet was more of a priority.
What recognition shave you received since then?
I won the state award and I have a certificate signed by the governor as an award of merit for my contribution to Kaduna State.
Having completed your NYSC, what are you doing now?
I don’t have a job yet, so I’m using this time to work out some things. I went back home after my NYSC but I came back because I have a special connection with Kaduna. I had to sit my parents down to explain to them that my heart is in Kaduna and I am working on starting a vlog and podcast. I just want to make an impact with my voice.
Source: Daily Trust