empower children


Adetola Makinde, Founder; Mo Rainbow Foundation

Adetola Makinde is a B.Sc. holder in Business Management from Usman Danfodio University. She is the founder of Mo Rainbow Foundation and Mo Rainbow Down syndrome Ability Centre, which are both non-profit organisations. She left her banking career to be a full-time mom, after she gave birth and her daughter was diagnosed with the Down syndrome.

In this interview with Women Of Rubies, Adetola Makinde shares a touching and inspiring story of how her life changed after her daughter, Moyinoluwa, came into the world with Down syndrome, and the inspiration behind Mo Rainbow Foundation.

Growing Up
As the first child of my parents, I’ve always been saddled with the responsibility of taking care of my siblings and being a good example to them. I grew up in a family, where cousins and relatives came on holidays or resided with us. I’ve lost count of the number of people my parents trained and supported from childhood through school and work, up until they got married. My parents were very accommodating and they taught me how to be content and responsible. They are great givers and all these formed a greater part of my core values, as I grew up being a giver, who also loves making people happy.

More About Me
My name is Adetola Makinde. Some people I’ve known for over three decades call me Sola. I love to be called TM. In my primary school days, I remember secretly coveting the name ‘Precious,’ as I used to wonder why my parents did not give me an English name. I am from Ikare-Akoko in Ondo State and the first of three children. I started my education with Stee international School, (popularly known as Subuola Nursery and Primary School back in1978). I attended FGGC Bida for a while before crossing over to Federal Government Girls College, Shagamu, in Ogun State. I later obtained a B.Sc. in Business Management from Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto.

My first job was with the United Bank of Africa Plc, and I worked in the corporate banking sector, and five other branches of this great organisation for 11 years, until I had my daughter in 2011.

Resigning from Banking Career to Follow Her Passion
I figured God was trying to change my career path, even though I loved working in the banking sector. God in heaven must have said, “Hey girl, it is time to move unto a greater assignment.” So, it happened that I had my baby in 2011 and about five days later, she was diagnosed with Down syndrome. This of course came as a rude shock and instead of resuming after my maternity leave, I tendered my resignation letter. I was about to dance to a different type of music, one people don’t like dancing, which is caring for my daughter. I had a prior knowledge and exposure to the condition and I knew I would not be able to cope with the responsibilities at work, as I had been given a higher role to play. I was just too sure that “returning to work would not work for me”.

I had prayed to have a baby girl and my prayers were answered in a miraculous way that has now birthed a purpose for my life. My little bundle, which initially caused me pain, had God’s purpose for my life, wrapped in that pain which has now turned to passion. For the life of me, I couldn’t believe my career would come to an end, but who am I to complain? It was a very tough decision coupled with sleepless nights, heart racing moments because of fear of the unknown. I had to be brave and just sacrifice for my children, more so, it hit home and I had to start running around to ensure my daughter had all the medical help and therapy that would save her life. God was there for me and I just could still see through a window how merciful and faithful He still is through my pain. I knew I was faced with a herculean task of caring for a vulnerable child, who is a blessing in disguise. I knew the benefits my baby would derive from early support. The first three years in the life of children, especially those with additional needs are very crucial and I told myself I would give my baby all the best care and support that I could and leave the rest for God.

Inspiration behind Mo Rainbow Foundation
The name Mo is Moyin’s nickname and the Rainbow was a name God gave me. We had put in another name and followed up with CAC to conclude the search, but the name was not approved because the whole process lasted longer than three months. One very cold morning, before daybreak, I woke up to use the bathroom and I heard a voice saying, “Look up, what do you see in the sky?” While I was still trying to think, I heard the answer “Rainbow”. I was transfixed and immediately sent a text to my lawyer and in two weeks, the name Moyinoluwa Rainbow Foundation was released and approved. The rainbow signifies hope and God’s promise, after the flood that destroyed the earth. It gives our children hope to live again. The fact that you have a child with a certain form of additional needs is not the end of the world. There is life after a Down syndrome diagnosis; it’s not the end of the world.

The inspiration behind Mo Rainbow began after my initial frustration of not getting early intervention. God gave me this vision one day in my living room, after Moyin turned three and I could only look back and appreciate God even more, as we had moved from struggles (with feeding, crawling, standing, walking, talking, heart surgery) to success. I met a two-year-old boy in church, who had never had any form of intervention and this tore me apart. That night, as I sat on my bed, folding my clothes, I heard a voice saying, “now you see you’re not alone. Go out and minister to these children. Be the light, be the solution, show and share the benefits of early intervention and all I’ve exposed you to”.

That night, I wept like a baby, knowing I was about to go through a path I never imagined. I followed up with the little boy, and today, Victor has turned four and with care and constant therapy, he is happy and improving gradually. This vision was confirmed by two people close to my heart, whom I never discussed my vision with at the early state, as I wanted clarity on this matter without prejudice.

The short of it is that I was blessed to have had help with early intervention from when Moyin was two weeks old, as I would be in the room with her till 1pm every day, trying to understand her body, features and help her with various exercises and oral motor massages. Frankly, I never cared about scornful looks, as I had keyed into early intervention and wouldn’t let go. My grits was eventually passed on to Moyin, as she became a fighter with every passing day. She learnt to be confident with the support friends and family daily gave her.

On Family Support
Well, all through this journey, my husband supported me. He was and is still there for us all. Our little Mo gives him so much joy. It was also with his consent that I left my job, as we both knew that working in the bank would divide my attention in caring for our daughter.

My Reaction on Being a Recipient of the Wise Women Awards
The award given to me is called “THE TURNAROUND AWARD”. I was overwhelmed with joy and that quickly ministered to me that finding purpose is fulfilling, and focusing on your vision over ambition is rewarding. I really appreciate Pastor Mrs. Majorie Esomowei, the founder, the wise Women international, Wise women Awards UK and Nigeria, for creating this wonderful platform. I believe your ministry does not have to be in church before God blesses you. He simply makes provision for every vision. I appreciate everyone supporting us, following us on social media channels and watching us. It’s a life changing experience for me.

Other Projects and Activities
We are on a rescue mission and I find it heart wrenching, when I discover that a child has not had the relevant support from birth, because of our weak support system. The story I hear is always either the parent has refused to seek the right help, kept the child at home and prevented him or her from mingling with others, has taken their child from one mountain to another seeking for deliverance with some voodooist or wishing the child away or dead.

Due to the high rate of ignorance of this condition, we have had a 5km walk for Down syndrome, where over 100 people came out to step for Down syndrome, creating awareness in Amuwoodofin Local Government Area. Our open-house party was to create awareness in the media and around our community. We have had “CANDID TALK ON DOWN SYNDROME,” where we invite parents to come and learn how to support their children/wards because it involves a back-to-back intervention. We also invite caregivers and therapists to learn how to support any child in their care. Sharing ideas helps us to take the right steps, when faced with difficult times with the child. It helps us to be pro-active.

We would frequently gather parents to enable them have Skype sessions and physical sessions with our consultants. We would also be partnering with Star of Hope Transformation Foundation, a foundation that turns ‘Trash into Treasure,” the Down syndrome foundation of Nigeria and other organisations that would project our work with children living with Down syndrome. Presently, Breakforth Women Outreach (Nigeria and Ireland), Women of faith Foundation (UK), LOJ logistics (NIG), Africa’s Unforgotten Angels (USA), SoksesJewelery (UK), Adoke resources (Nig.), are partnering with us in various ways and we are still hopeful for more partnership and support from other organisations and individuals. I will do my best to give hope to children faced with this condition. Not being much of tech savvy, I have found myself creating awareness on various social media platforms about this cause and God has brought many friends our way all over the world via these channels, though we are yet to get our first support from any organisation.

On Whether Nigerians are Compassionate Enough to Children with Down Syndrome
We are far from it. I once posted my daughter’s picture on Instagram and received a derogatory comment I had to delete. I wept that day, because it made me realise people’s ignorance and it made me more determined to advocate for every child and adult living with Down syndrome. Something good will come of them, because they are made in God’s image and likeness. Down Syndrome can visit any family, but it’s what you do with it that matters. I will keep fighting for inclusion for our children and there is no looking back. The society needs to understand that advocates of all forms of disability in Nigeria need them to listen and contribute their quota, as much as they can. I see our children living happily without any form of stigma or name-calling. One of our objectives is to ensure the on-going stigmatisation children face is stopped.

I Am A Woman Of Rubies
I believe answering this call has paved a way for a bright future for children living with this life-long condition. I am fulfilled, because families that are angry with God or the child, thinking He is angry with them can now realise they are wrong.  When at the end of each day I see parents showing more love to their child, I know I can sleep with both eyes closed, because through me, a strong bond has been built between them and the child is sure of their total support.

Tolulope Sangosanya suffered dyslexia as a child, which impinged on her self-esteem, making her believe she won’t amount to anything great in life. Her bitter life experiences and needs as a child inspired her to start the LOTS Charity Foundation. She studied Mass Communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State. She is very driven, visionary and has a heart of gold. Today she is building a refuge within the refuse with her Lots Charity Foundation

Early Preparations

I had dyslexia as a child. I couldn’t read until I was 10. I had failed so bad in primary school so much that I wasn’t sure I was going to do well in secondary school let alone university. I couldn’t pronounce the word “The” at age 9. I didn’t know God was preparing me for what I do now. My grandfather taught me how to read English and Yoruba for 2hours daily for 2years. The strategy my grandfather used is what we still use at LOTS Resource Center today. We have used that strategy to teach children how to read and write according to their capacity not age.

The Ifa Priest Connection

My dad’s Ifa priest said I am a possessed and demonic. Several pastors said that too. The Ifa priest said I am a queen in the spiritual realm and my members wanted me back which meant I will have to physically die. I lived in constant fear of dying for over 5 years until an era came when I woke up and I said to myself: “I will not die twice. I will not be dead while living”. I decided to feed street kids every year for my birthday. What the fear of death did for me is to wake me up fast to the fact that life is actually short and its running out every minute. I wanted to make each day I live matter. To crown it all, up my roommate in university died at 22, I said if Awujola (who to me was better than I) could die, then who am I? After I started Project LOTS, the Ifa priest came back to say I’m not dying again, that there is a sign on my body that says the price has already been paid for. I realized I wasn’t a waste of God’s breath of life. I felt the fear of death was God’s ‘wake-up’ call to me and ever since then, I haven’t gone back to sleep.

Passion for Philanthropy

I didn’t go to school to be a social worker or a philanthropist. I thought I was going to have several businesses from fashion to photography .I tried most of the business while in the university, but nothing filled me up more than the fulfillment I felt, when I fed 300 children in 2006. I knew I was ‘Home’ when I got to DUSTBIN ESTATE in 2008. I remember ‘stealing’ my younger sister’s toy to give to another cousin whom I thought didn’t have. I was trying to redistribute ‘wealth’ even as a child. Nothing made me feel this will be my life’s mission. Discovering my life’s purpose was more like an accident, i can’t even claim glory for it.

Finding Balance

Lots of Things was registered as a business name before I got the idea for LOTS Charity Foundation. I’m an entrepreneur by nature; I bought and sold lots of things as an undergraduate. I needed an umbrella name to give to all I did. They were not related, hence the name L.O.T.S –Lots Of Things.

Tolu and some LOTS kids

When LOTS Charity Foundation came to be, I knew I had to raise funds for the initiative and I was too proud to ask anyone for help. So all I had made from the other things I did went into registration and into the first few event LOTS Charity Foundation organized. Since LOTS Charity Foundation commenced operation, Lots of Things declined a bit in operation .I could only focus on one thing per time. I am first a social entrepreneur before my entrepreneurial side comes to life. I ask myself, if I have 24 more hours to live what would I rather do? Make money or give money? Giving tops my chart every time

My Greatest Influence

I have had many people who have impacted my life. From my grandfather who taught me how to read to my biological father who rewarded me for everything, I excelled in. I also will mention Fela Durotoye who taught me to make my personal gifting to be used for national benefit. Professor Wale Omole gave me a life road map. There is nothing that I do today that professor didn’t know about 10years ago. He always said “Tolu, nothing must go to waste”. He taught me how to love me. Professor made sure I read two books weekly and we met to review the books. “Tolu, you have to decide to decide. This was one of his sayings that gave me constant headache and left me without sleep. We had 2 years of qualitative mentoring sessions and I cannot trade the lessons of that era for a billion naira.

Discovering Dustbin Estate

In 2007 after feeding 1000kids at Oko Baba on my 25th birthday, a spirit in me told me we would be going to Ajegunle next .I didn’t know my way there. I called Praise Fowowe who linked me up with Christopher who then took me to the place we now call Dustbin Estate. When I met with Christopher I told him to take me to the dirtiest place he’s ever seen. Till date, I still question why I thought of dirt. There is a spirit in every man that speaks and i am just blessed to be in tune with mine.

Tempted to Give Up

There have been several times I felt like giving up .Even as I type this, I feel like giving up. I am choleric by temperament; I like to have an idea of happenings around me. I hit my head every time it looks like something is out of my control. But this has taught me patience, a virtue I do not naturally have. I felt like giving up when some kids stole books at the library to sell, books I had bought when i was very ‘poor’ and ‘hungry’. I felt like giving up when i was busy looking for food for 150 families last December and at the same time dealing with the news that my mom had cancer. I felt like giving up when my personal account was dormant for 4years. I don’t give up easily on anything or anyone so I keep at it

The Reward for Philanthropy

When I learnt one of our students, Batis could now read, my joy knew no bounds. When Balogun Rufai’s (also one of our students) name came out 4th on the merit list of FUTA, I felt like a proud mother. Knowing that the dreams i conceived on the floor of my room in university is now seen by all makes me feel like my life isn’t a waste. I wake up with a smile on my face knowing that Tolulope Sangosanya has brought value and not disgrace to her family and to the society at large.
Nigerians are not giving enough

I don’t think we give enough, giving hasn’t been institutionalized, we do not have social security or welfare package in Nigeria. What we have is extended family security and even that now is beginning to fade. Now what we practice is “all man for himself, God for us all”. To love is to give and since we don’t love, most people cannot give. We are now ruled by greed and selfishness as we have sold value for money.

Final Words

All human being were created to come solve problems. The human race cannot be complete without you discovering your purpose and fulfilling it. Nobody was made to just come ‘occupy space’, we are all part of a body, hence collective responsibility. Nigeria needs us to rise and shine