Pastor Nike Adeyemi is the Deputy Senior Pastor of Daystar Christian Centre and the founder of the Real Woman Foundation, a faith-based non-governmental organisation committed to bringing healing and empowerment to women and children.
As she celebrates her 50th Birthday, Pastor Nike who has been a great inspiration to thousands of young women all over the world, speaks to Bukola Bakare of Punch on her calling, her role as a pastor’s wife and why she is passionate about the plight of the vulnerable in the society.
Excerpt from interview below
On Real Woman Foundation
The Real Woman Foundation was an inspiration I got as far back as 1997. I encountered prostitutes on the streets of Lagos; particularly my area in Ikeja/Oregun. You’d see them moving about aimlessly at night. I began to notice them and became concerned. I would say to myself, ‘‘This is someone’s daughter or sister selling her body.’’ I wasn’t even so concerned about the kind of clothes they wore, but the thought of them selling their bodies made me cringe. At that time, people had just begun to become aware of HIV/AIDS and many people still thought it did not exist. I was genuinely interested in their welfare and that was when I noticed that I had the gift of compassion. One day, someone told me that he discovered a brothel where some of these girls lived and I asked him to take me there. I wore my jeans and without holding any Bible, I went into this brothel which was a face-me-I-face-you bungalow. I walked in there and I was looking for someone to talk to. The first girl I met said her name was Sandra, and I told her that I was looking for my sister. I began to describe an imaginary person and when I saw that I couldn’t go any further because I am not an expert in telling lies, I had to come out with the truth. I asked her what she was doing there and I began to talk to her. A little while after, she opened up to me and the rest is history. She invited me into her room and my heart was further broken when she told me that she pays the owner of the brothel N100 daily. That means in a month, her rent was N3, 000. They paid on a daily basis, so it was quite a flexible arrangement for them. I remember telling her at that time that around Ogba/Iju area, she could get a three-bedroom apartment for N30, 000/N36, 000 per annum. Sandra became my first friend and from that day onwards, all of them there became my friends. I went back there in December 1997 because I had my second child in February of that year. I went there after church on Christmas Day after my husband had gone home with our two kids. I cooked rice, put it in a cooler and went there with drinks. I told them, ‘‘I’m not here to talk to you today, just enjoy the season, eat and keep my mineral bottles.’’ They became my friends and it started a whole new career path for me because I remember going to the United Kingdom shortly after that to be part of a four-day conference which dwelt on trafficking and I met with people from other parts of the world.
In the Real Woman Foundation, we are literally here to bring healing and empowerment to women and children. Some years after we were established, we adjusted our mission statement and added children to it and later, I set up the Love Home Orphanage. That created a vision in me to do more than run the Real Woman seminars and I began to look for an apartment that I could turn into a hostel. We wanted to be able to take these girls in and work with them and that’s what we did. We began to take them in and today we have what we call the Peace Villa, where they live. We also work with NAPTIP, an organisation that rehabilitates people that are repatriated from other countries or those involved in prostitution. NAPTIP has its own rehabilitation centre which is a government-owned institution, but they feel that we are a private centre with a special touch. Subsequently, my staff and I developed a curriculum and participants are supposed to partake in the programme for six months or more and afterwards, their families are traced and we help them to be reintegrated back into the society.
Head over to Punch for full interview