Lola Idris Debayo, through her organization, Lolo Foundation has fed London’s homeless destitutes for the past 16 years twice a month.
Now, she’s ready to come back home to do the same for some of Nigeria’s most deprived in Lagos.
When she told www.naijagistland.com last June that she’s thinking of someday coming back to replicate what her Foundation was doing in London, she didn’t know that day will come this soon.
On that occasion, she’d said: “We are not well-rooted in Nigeria yet. However we have big plans for this Foundation and Nigeria is a big part of it. We hope we can get the adequate support that will let us reach people back home.”
Then she came back for her mother’s memorial prayers last August and the pervasive poverty brought her to tears.
“I have always wanted to give back here same way we are doing in London because poverty is real, whether in Nigeria or UK.
“When I came to offer prayers for the repose of the soul of my mum at Okesuna in Lagos Island, I saw that a lot of people are struggling to make ends meet. It brought tears to my eyes and I knew I have a mission here,”she said.
So, come Friday November 8 2019, Lolo Foundation will organise a public feeding of the homeless and anybody who needs a good plate of food.
“In my experience, I know for sure that it’s not only the destitutes and homeless who should be fed. There are lots of people going through a difficult time who will appreciate good well-cooked food so Lolo Foundation will offer that to them,” she said.
Having done this for 16 years non-stop, ‘Debayo claims she’s on a life mission to help the poor and deprived.
“I’ve always said this is not about showing off. It is a duty that I’m compelled to do. I was a product of the streets myself before God showed me mercy so I know what the homeless person is going through.
“Society owes a duty to ensure that everyone has a place to sleep and food in their stomach and we are doing this in our own little way. I wish more people would get involved and make the world a better place for all.”
Funding for the feeding programme is from her pockets though ‘Debayo will not reject offers of assistance.
As a matter of fact, she recently opened a GoFundMe account where donations can be sent to help further the work of her Foundation.
She said: “Everything has been through the help of God and my family. And, of course, we have had the kind support of Nandos in our feeding programme.
“I cook all the food in my kitchen and get volunteers who help to serve at the feeding programme. Like I said, we do this twice a month and the grace of God has kept us thus far.”
For the Lagos programme, ‘Debayo is looking at organising the feed-fest every two months and will count on the benevolence of kind-hearted Nigerians for support.
“We are coming to Lagos not only to feed the homeless people but to also distribute gifts to those who are in need. We will need all the support we can get even if it is just to volunteer your time. We shall count on the support of our backers and those who identify with what we are doing.”
Lolo Foundation plans to feed an average 500 to 600 people on November 8 and make provisions for a higher figure as time goes on.
“I know we cannot take care of everybody that needs to be fed but we will try to accomodate as many as we can going forward.
“Even in London, many would still come to our programme as we are rounding up and ask for food. Sometimes, when there’s no more food to give out, I break down in tears and take them to fast food outlets for take-outs.
“It so hard on me sometimes but I’m happy to know somebody would go to sleep that night with a smile on their face,” ‘Debayo said.
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed as this tweet from the Chiltern Council shows:
Lola runs her own charity called the Lolo Foundation and for the past 16 years has given food to homeless people two or three times a month in Central London.
Lola was homeless herself when she first moved to the UK. pic.twitter.com/xO22aJDQdG
— Chiltern Council (@ChilternCouncil) June 13, 2019
Lola Idris Debayo, the Mother Theresa of London, is taking her bowl of kindness to Nigeria to feed the homeless in Lagos.