Project Feed Street Kids, I See Children in My Shoes Declares Timi Jonathan
Project Feed Street Kids is the brain child of Queen Timi Jonathan, an ex-beauty queen. The project is focused on providing food for children. She spoke with Victor Oroyi, Managing Editor of Reflector Magazine on her dreams of reaching Africa nations with the project. Excerpts.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Timi Jonathan from Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State specifically from Ogobiri community. I am the first child of my parents, a graduate of Computer Science and Chemistry from the College of Education, Sagbama.
I have a huge interest in fashion and designing, this led me into becoming a model as well as an ex-beauty queen. I am a fashion entrepreneur dealing on all kinds of materials.
Why did you go into modelling?
Modelling is something that I am passionate about, from my childhood, I started nurturing the idea of becoming a model. It is my passion, nobody talked me into it.
As an ex-beauty queen, tell us some of the pageants you have participated in?
In 2015, I contested for the Miss Bayelsa Beauty Pageant before I went for Miss Izon-ebi International in 2016 and came out as the 1st runner up as Miss Izon-ebi Culture.
I also participated in Miss Environment, Miss Boro where I won the ‘Best Catwalk’ and the Face of my school.
Why did you decide to feed street kids?
I decided to take up that challenge because it is something I have experienced. I see the children in my shoes, I have been on the streets, most people will not know that I was on the streets. I know how it feels to be on the streets, no food to eat, no room over your head, and no clothes to cover your body.
The life on the street is filled with struggles. Some, may have a guardian but these guardians don’t have time for them, that is my story while on the streets. Since this is something I have first hand experience, I decided to take up the challenge to change the narrative of street kids that will cross my path.
I may not do much but with the little I have, I want to make a difference in their lives positively.
Tell us a little bit of your story.
Actually, my parents are alive and doing well right from my childhood. I was with my parents when my aunt told them, she is taking me to Port Harcourt, unknown to them, she took me to a village and left me in the hands of her siblings. From that moment, I started taking care of myself but she comes and check up on me without good food nor clothes.
I had to face reality, rather than die of hunger, I started looking for ways to survive in the community.
Without a good skill in swimming, I still go to the river to catch fish to roast it for drinking garri. I survived by selling fruits and petty food items from the streets. The people I stayed did not care about me, they only took care of their children. When you see starvation leading to death, you are pushed to do certain things to survive from an early age, I started entering bush, ponds to survive. I did not have education and looking so tattered before I left that community. I know there are kids passing through same conditions today and that is the reason for this project.
There are kids out there that needs support. They need food, they need quality education. That is the vision and mission behind Hope For Street Kids, street kids that need help.
You recently hosted Valentine Special with Street Kids, where you feed them with 700 plates of jollof rice. How does it make you feel?
I am excited and overjoyed at the success of that event. It was overwhelming and never expected the kind of support I got on that day. I never knew it was going to be big because I had planned something small but what I got was mind-blowing. The support was massive. There were a lot of calls from friends to express their goodwill and I thank God for it.
Do you have plans to continue it or you just end with one?
Actually, the project is a continuous one. I am going to be holding it quarterly believing that with God, all things are possible and since I have started it, there is no turning back. We have already started plans for the second edition which is Easter Lunch With Street Kids and it is going to be a blast, it is going to be bigger and better.
What is your sustainability plans for the project?
After the second edition, we are activating the Yenagoa Food Bank where people will come and donate food items to feed street kids. We will also host a fundraiser through a documentary film which is on the pipeline.
For the Yenagoa Food Bank, everybody is welcomed to support with whatever they have especially food items and cooking ingredients are highly appreciated. We also need the prayers of individuals to succeed in this cause. Initially, I thought, it was going to be an easy task but I realized that we need prayers and moral support from well-meaning individuals in society.
In the next five, how many kids can you reach?
My projections for the next five years is to reach out to about five million kids. I say so because I want every kid on the street is to see me and say, ‘Look at that Lady, she was instrumental to my lifting when I was in need.’ We are going beyond Yenagoa and Nigeria.