More than 100 orphans in the impoverished nation of Niger in western Africa are attending school thanks to a group of Greeks who organized financial help through Facebook. Fragkiska Megaloudi, a native of Greece, energized Greek philotimo on the social media platform.
In May 2022, Magaloudi visited the Saga orphanage in Niamey, the capital city of Niger. There she discovered that many kids could not attend school because they could not afford the fees.
As she explained to Greek Reporter, although the government subsidizes the fees, they are still too much for most. Most kids receive food and shelter during the day but do not have the means to go to school.
“Children have little access to education because of poverty and conflicts in the region that affects Niger,” she says.
The literacy rate in Niger is among the lowest in the world. According to the latest estimates, it stands only at 28.7%. 42.9% are male and 15.1% are female.
Megaloudi quickly decided that something had to be done for the orphans. “It is not about helping people in Africa. It could have been anywhere. I witnessed what was happening. I saw a need and I thought why don’t we all get together to help these children in need.”
Greek contribution to the orphanage in Niger
Fragkiska Megaloudi began to publicize the plight of the orphans through social media after speaking to the director of the orphanage, targeting Facebook in particular. The aim of the group Megaloudi created the Orphelinats de Niamey with the aim to help children get educated through a sponsorship program.
Through the Facebook page she created, which now has more than 1,000 members in Greece, the group has sponsored the educational fees of 109 orphans for the school year that started earlier this October.
“It was amazing how many people mobilized to help. The response was extraordinary,” she tells Greek Reporter.
“At a time when the financial situation in Greece is still challenging all these people offered a donation to sponsor the educational needs of the orphans,” she adds.
Sponsoring an orphan for the prep school costs about $45 per year. It is about $68 for elementary school and about $100 for middle school. The donations went directly to the director of the orphanage with no middlemen intervening in the process, Megaloudi notes. She adds that the whole process was completely transparent, as any member of the Facebook group knew at any time where the money went.
Each donor connects with Issoufou Hamadou, the director of the orphanage, and receives a file with all the information about the orphan they were to sponsor. After payment of the school fee, the donor received a photo of the child and could contact and speak to them through WhatsApp or even visit personally in Niger.
“We wanted to create a personal relationship between the sponsor and the orphan,” Megaloudi says and adds that there are no more sponsorship opportunities as the school year has already started.
Donors needed to send more than 600 kilos of school items to Niger
The response of the Greek public was so impressive that over 600 kilos of school materials have been gathered at the offices of the Greek NGO called Metadrasi, which offered to provide storage space.
“Some sponsors offered to pay part of the transport costs from Greece to Niger. But, we are still short of about 4,000 euros. We need this money to send school bags, notebooks, pens, and pencils and all other school items that have been donated by the generous Greek public,” Megaloudi says.
People can donate by sending money to Metadrasis. They must clearly specify however that is meant for the orphanage in Niger by clicking on the link here.
Orphans in Niger honor their Greek donors
The money saved from school fees was used to upgrade the orphanage facilities. A new wing was also built to accommodate the students. Even people who could not afford $45 for the fees and donated smaller amounts were very helpful since the orphanage used the money to buy food.
Megaloudi tells Greek Reporter of the touching moment orphans raised the Greek flag at the orphanage on the day the school opened to honor their donors.
“They also put up a sign saying that this was achieved with the help of the Greek people. The kids also made a video where they tried to thank their Greek sponsors in Greek,” Megaloudi says.
Thanks to Megaloudi, the children of the Saga orphanage in Nimey can now look to a brighter future. All because the Greek native happened to be at the right place at the right time and was willing to do something about it.