In November 2009, in recognition of the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom, the United Nations declared the 18th of July “Nelson Mandela International Day”. His values and his dedication to humanity with regards to the rights of children and other vulnerable groups and the fight against poverty are exactly what our founder Chris Oyakhilome strives to achieve with the foundation of the Chris Oyakhilome Foundation International (COFI).
On the 18th of July every year, we celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day by making a difference in our communities. Everyone has the ability and the responsibility to change the world for the better! Mandela Day is an occasion for all to take action and inspire change.
Chris Oyakhilome Foundation International strives to make an impact on the lives of those who the world forgets. Working in partnership with local organizations in both the public and private sector COFI works to eradicate poverty. The many different NGOs that make up COFI not only work to counter the effects of poverty but to build a sustainable future. One of the biggest contributors to ending poverty is ensuring children have an education. For any child, education can open doors to the future that would otherwise be locked tight.
As Nelson Mandela rightly called education “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Today, education is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals. Education is a human right, a public good, and a public responsibility. Education can be the catalyst needed to pull families and communities out of the cycle of poverty. Knowledge gives children the power to dream of a better future and the confidence needed to pursue a full education, which in turn will help generations to come.
At the Live 8 Concert in Johannesburg, South Africa on the 2nd of July 2005, Nelson Mandela made a significant speech that profoundly affected the wellbeing of many.
“As long as poverty, injustice, and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest. We shall never forget how millions of people around the world joined us in solidarity to fight the injustice of our oppression while we were incarcerated. Those efforts paid off and we are able to stand here and join the millions around the world in support of freedom against poverty.
We live in a world where knowledge and information have made enormous strides, yet millions of children are not in school. It is a world of great promise and hope. It is also a world of despair, disease, and hunger.
Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom. The steps that are needed from the developed nations are clear.”
International Days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern and to celebrate and reinforce the great achievements of humanity. COFI and by extension InnerCity Mission (ICM) is proud to be associated with such a giant of a man, and significant leader who changed the world.
Our founder, Chris Oyakhilome, the President of LoveWorld Inc, made a profound statement when he said: “Every Child is your Child”. He went on to say: “They are our extension, they are our future. No matter how dirty or untouchable they are, think again, one day you were just that small, but you were fortunate to have someone help you, many of these are fortunate to have us if we would only open our hearts, our minds, our eyes and ignore them no more. We need to help give them a home, we need to help give them an education, we need to help cloth them. As small as they are, as needy as they are, as frustrated as they are, they have dreams, we can help make those dreams come true.”