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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 July 2007, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Yobo's mission
By Oluwashina Okeleji
BBC Sport, Lagos

Joseph Yobo in Nigeria
Yobo surrounded by kids during his Summer football camping in Lagos
Super Eagle defender Joseph Yobo has voiced his determination to help the lives of under-privileged children from his home in the Niger Delta of Nigeria.

So much so that the 26-year-old, who plays for English Premier League side Everton, spent much of his summer break doing charitable work for his Joseph Yobo Charity Foundation.

Yobo was born in Kono, in Khana, part of the Ogoni Kingdom - hailing from the same tribe as the late environmental activist Ken Saro Wiwa.

The area where he grew up is one where basic amenities, such as running water, electricity and schools are lacking.

'Lucky'

Despite this, Yobo still feels he was one of the lucky ones.

"Although I grew up in an average family and managed to finish secondary school, other people around us were not so fortunate.

Joseph Yobo
I am from the Niger-Delta, so something good has come out from there.
Joseph Yobo

"There were people who were not able to realise their potential, even though they were brilliant, because their families could not afford to take them all the way.

"What I am doing with this foundation is to help people in a similar situation achieve their full potential in whatever they do, and I am proud to be able to help."

'Education'

The Super Eagle has so far handed out 300 educational scholarship awards covering all levels of education including primary, secondary, vocational and university level, to pupils from the region.

He has also visited three charity homes in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital where his foundation donated food, mattresses and around US$20,000 of funds for investment.

"I know how I started and it wasn't easy for me either," Yobo told BBC Sport.

"I am starting in my area because charity begins at home, but my vision is to take this project to every part of Nigeria.

"When I went to the homes of abandoned kids and those living with HIV/Aids I was close to tears and begin to appreciate how lucky some of us are in this world.

"Such places make you feel sad and I have vowed to do the best I can to help relieve their struggle."

'Pledge'

Joseph Yobo
Yobo is keen to demonstrate that charity starts at home
Yobo says he plans frequent visits home to continue with his charity work.

"I see myself as someone who is privileged enough to be able to help elevate others who are not so fortunate.

"We live in a country where everyone deserves equal opportunities and amenities, my determination is to spread whatever wealth I can around."

Nigeria is Africa's top oil producer and the sixth largest supplier of crude to the US.

Although the bulk of the oil comes from the Niger Delta, the region remains deeply impoverished.

Kidnappings - more often of oil workers - have become a common occurrence in the south of Nigeria .

Victims tend to be released after a ransom is paid, yet Yobo is proud of area of his birth.

"For every action there is a reason, these people are not happy doing what they do because there is a reason for their grievances.

'Peace Cup'

"I plan to organise a Peace Cup where people can come together and play football, hopefully all these troubles can be resolved.

"I am from the Niger-Delta, so something good has come out from there.

"I want to use my position to touch people so as to change the perception of the world about the area.

"It's not easy to do it all alone but I'll try all possible means to do my bit and hope that will attract others as well."

SEE ALSO
Yobo blow for Nigeria
08 Jun 07 |  African


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