There’s one absolute truth we can all agree on about this country:
The country has been failed time and again by people in real positions of power to do something about its decay that it’s easy to completely lose all hope in the country. However, there are people who are not giving up just yet; people who still battle to protect the little flicker of hope in the pervading darkness that the country struggles in.
Adepeju Olukokun is only another average Nigerian who decided that he had had enough with the government’s system of willful neglect and disappointment and was intent on doing something about it. Olukokun had experienced hardship first hand, growing up in a polygamous family where sustenance was hard, hawking on the street for the better part of 15 years. The things he was exposed to growing up inspired him to do his part to make sure he could prevent other people having to suffer through the same. This led to what is known today as Kokun Foundation.
His goal was simple: Feed the hungry.
Olukokun came up with the idea for the foundation on his birthday three years ago, and with the help of his like-minded team consisting Adetona Demola, Okegbemi Olusoji, and Lawal Titi, kicked off the non-profit organization’s operation in January 2016 by going on outreaches to destitute homes feeding the young, the poor, the old, the lonely and the homeless who struggled to feed themselves with the worsening economic situation of the country. They started by funding with money from their own pockets, but it didn’t take too long for the team to earn recognition for their work winning a True Heroes award, as their operation began to expand to IDP camps, and prisons. They started to gain a following on social media, and with it, voluntary donations from well-meaning Nigerians.
Olukokun believes that you don’t have to possess the world before you can start to think about your neighbour, and this selfless thought is what drives him to cater to as many people as he can, who are vulnerable to hunger and poverty that continues to be on the rise in the country.
In his own words, “My daily mission is simple: to put food on the tables of our hungry neighbours and get more people out of poverty and problems. Giving is not determined by how much you have but how much your heart truly desires to sacrifice. There are people who will starve to death today. There are people who have to eat mud pies daily. We don't truly understand how blessed we are to feed the poor and help people who are in need. Feeding the needy is part of serving one another”
According to a survey by Food Aid International (FAI) in 2014, nearly 14 million people in Nigeria go hungry daily with 3000 dying on a daily basis with poverty and lack of food regarded as the biggest factors in this sad trend. An article in The Telegraph in July, 2016 claimed that 50,000 children were in danger of death by starvation in Northern Nigeria alone.
These damning statistics shine a bright light on the importance of what Kokun Foundation is doing for fellow Nigerians. The foundation has successfully carried out outreach programmes across all South Western states of the country and in Abuja.
According to Olukokun, “The full extent of the problem of hunger is not obvious to most of us. We only see the homeless, but there are a great number of working poor, struggling to survive, who don't have enough money to put adequate food on the table. We must find a solution to this ever-increasing problem — and quickly.”
The Hunger Heroes of Kokun Foundation don’t just cater to the stomach; sometimes, they also render financial assistance to people who are struggling financially if a request is deemed as genuine and it is within their means to help.
If Kokun Foundation’s advocacy has taught us anything, it is that no help is too little to render, and that as Nigerians, we can help this country grow in more ways than we think we are capable of. Like Ronald Reagan said, “Those who say that we're in a time when there are no heroes, they just don't know where to look.”
Kokun Foundation should inspire us all.