Adedolapo Osuntuyi is the founder and Executive Director of Dolly Children Foundation. She is a social entrepreneur who is very passionate about ensuring equal educational opportunities are accessible to disadvantaged children in remote communities.
Osuntuyi studied Child Health & Social Care at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK, and has over 14 years of experience in child protection, early childhood, and community development.
The Inspiration Behind Dolly Children Foundation
My desire to start Dolly Children Foundation was born out of my dad’s personal childhood experiences. There was something different about him on the day he recounted his life story to me as a 13- year-old girl.
I remember telling him that I would need a new set of shoes one fateful night because the ones I had before I went to the boarding house were too tight for me.
This was the request I made that led to three hours’ conversation about how life’s challenges didn’t allow him to wear shoes to school. If not for the free Awolowo education scheme, my dad would not have attended a primary school.
Despite not stepping into a school, my determined father was able to pass his O’ level exams. Thanks to his friend who always borrowed him his books.
Recalling and recounting his life’s story that night put my dad in a sad state and that made me cry. That night, I prayed to God to give me the grace to help children in similar situations when I grow up.
My dad’s story propelled me to start the Dolly Children Foundation that has impacted over 22,000 children in 25 communities in four states.
How Dolly Children Foundation Is Changing Lives
Dolly Children Foundation is tasked with inspiring African child to adopt 21st- century skills through education, capacity building, and advocacy programmes. We do this by providing a conducive environment for learning, empowering educators, and empowering less privileged children.
Our primary interventions are targeted towards eliminating child illiteracy in rural communities, reducing child labour and abuse, and absenteeism in public primary and secondary schools.
Also, we work with private schools in the communities we serve to organize community-based projects between public and private schools to address the existing inequality gaps that exist between public and private schools.
Reminding myself about the sensitive role I play at the foundation guides me in how I address the challenges that we face as an organization.
One of the most challenging task one can undertake is convincing a low-income parent that their children need to go to school. It takes a lot of encouragement and dialogue to achieve this.
Another challenge I have faced is the bureaucracy on the part of agencies and regulatory bodies. It’s not a walk in the park to get approval for the kind of work we do. I have had moments when I felt like giving up, but tenacity and my BIG WHY of starting DCF gave me the strength to move forward.
We have recorded a good number of success stories in the performance rate of the children we have sponsored to school. We have seen children who were out of school for years or were on the verge of dropping out of school, now doing excellently well in school and even assuming leadership roles and representing their schools at the state level.
Another success story for us at DCF is how the news of our impact is spreading across communities and it has given us a platform whereby community stakeholders are going the extra mile to ensure our projects yield successful outcomes.
Overall, seeing smiles on the faces of children who never thought their dreams of being supported through school would be a reality is one of the cores that motivate my team and I to do more.
DCF will officially be celebrating its 14th anniversary this month and we recorded a video to document our journey so far. Having my father, whose story birthed the foundation, in the video made my heart swell with pride.
Below was what he said about me:
“I am very grateful to you and I know that the kindness in you brought this thing out because if you are not kind, there is no way you would be kind to others and definitely God will be kind to you. Keep on doing good things. Help yourself and help others. You have demonstrated that and I love you for it.”
Facebook: Dolly Children Foundation