The shift in the perceived role of corporate organizations as solely profit centres to agents for positive change has become clearer more than ever before with the United Nation’s massive push for sustainability through its carefully conceived Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In achieving the SDGs by 2030, it is a fact that governments across the world need the support of the private sector since the private sector is largely considered as key drivers of the economy in terms of addressing social and economic development issues on a global scale.
According to the United Nations, the SDGs clearly define the better and more just world we want – applying to all nations and leaving no one behind. SDGs focus on the greatest challenges faced by humanity with the aim of ending poverty and hunger, misery and war, unfairness and inequality.
Today, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is no longer about doing less harm, or giving money to charity. The focus is now on sustainability and measurable impact.
Leading telecommunications service provider, Airtel Nigeria has been championing the SDGs through its revolutionary CSR initiative calledTouching Lives in the last four years.Airtel Touching Lives which aims to uplift the downtrodden has been a pillar of strength and support for thousands of Nigerians. The initiative has consistently focused on initiatives that promote good health and wellbeing of people across the country.
The most recent effort by the company was its partnership with St. Cyril Cancer Treatment Foundation, to offer better care and support to cancer patients. As part of the on-going Airtel Touching Lives season 4, the telco donated chemotherapy infusion chairs, medical waiting room chairs, chemotherapy infusion pumps with drip stand, flat screen monitors and nursing/medical consumables, amongst other items, to the Foundation.
The presentation was done just few weeks after the company’s donation of 14 hospital beds, seven steel seater chairs, dozens of plastic chairs and tables and drugs to Agbede Community Health Centre at Omolaiye Covenant Estate Phase 1, Ikorodu Lagos.
These are some of the contributions of the telco to the promotion health and well-being of Nigerians over the years.
In season 1, Essienkan Ebong, a former police officer who lost his eyes after an armed robbery attack in 2013 was provided a Braille Object Identification Scanner, a Braille Machine, Speech Software, an America skim guide and a sophisticated, special laptop to help him function normally. Today, Ebong is empowered and he is helping other people in his immediate community.
During the Airtel Touching Lives Season 2, Hannah Enakerakpor, who suffered from a life-threatening disease, needed help to bounce back. Through the Touching Lives programme, the company ensured that Hannah could enjoy life like every other person. Airtel Nigeria bankrolled her surgery in India and thankfully the surgery was very successful. Today, Hannah is living a healthy and happy life.
Another beneficiary was Gbenga Adesida, a blind man who lost custody of his children because he was homeless. A new apartment was built for him by Airtel so he could reunite with his family.
One of the unforgettable episodes of season 3 was the story of Olusegun Aina family, who recently gave birth to a set of twins (a boy and a girl) after losing three children to an inferno. Airtel Touching Lives built and donated a multi-million Naira, ultra-modern 2-bedroom apartment for the family and also paid for all outstanding medical bills incurred while undergoing treatment of injuries sustained in the fire.
Other efforts of the company to address the SDG 3 during the last season of the programme include the donation of laptops, digital voice recorder and other gadgets to Bethesda Home and School; procurement of prosthetic leg for Emmanuel Onyeka and Scholarship for his University education. A 9-year-old cancer patient, Pillar Egona also received N3m for her chemotherapy treatment.
During the premiere of Season 4 of Airtel Touching Lives in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director of Airtel Nigeria, Segun Ogunsanya, noted that the telco will not relent in its effort to restore hope and also help the less privileged in the society in line with its vision of creating empowerment opportunities and making life better for Nigerians.
“I want to thank everyone in this room and to encourage you again; there is no limit to how kind any of us can be. My parting message is don’t spend your time asking why there are poor people in the world; it’s a waste of time.
“The right question is what can we do to change it? We are always going to have poor and unfortunate people amongst us. What next is what you can do to affect their circumstances and I am encouraging you to do something,” he said.
Since Airtel launched the Touching Lives initiative three years ago, it has achieved remarkable successes having restored hope of despaired individuals and families, saved many from the throes of death and empowered many underprivileged Nigerians.