2019. Lydia Ina
Lydia Ina, from Manchester, has fostered more than 300 children over 23 years experience as a foster carer and has become known as “Nigeria’s Mother Theresa” due to her charitable work in the country.
Lydia came to the UK over 50 years ago but wanted to use her experience of fostering in the UK with Manchester City Council to support vulnerable children in the country of her birth. After a visit to the city of Calabar in 2009, she soon after decided to set up her own charity ‘Gapolunya Foundation’, in honour of her mother.
In 2019, through the charity Lydia fulfilled her ambition of building an orphanage and community care centre in Calabar, with a building programme currently underway to further expand its capacity and help house more children. In the decade since establishing the charity, Lydia has travelled through remote communities in Nigeria to provide mosquito nets to pregnant women, support subsistence farming projects, and provide financial and educational support to poor children. She has also recruited doctors to offer free health-testing and prescription drugs to over 10,000 people.
In a personal letter to Lydia, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“For decades you have been devoted to giving the best possible care for vulnerable children, helping hundreds of young people in Manchester to have a new start in life.
“Now you have extended your work to the country of your birth with your charity ‘Gapolunya Foundation’, named in memory of your mother.
“Through your charity you have supported thousands of people in the city of Calabar and neighbouring rural areas with healthcare, homes and educational support.”
“I am very grateful and happy for the recognition from the Prime Minister and becoming a Point of Light recipient. Many thanks for all your support.”