Enugu, Nigeria — In 1998, Maryanne Akpa's mother died while giving birth to her at a hospital in South East Nigeria. Because her father is mentally ill, Akpa was left under nobody's care. The Daughters of Divine Love sisters stepped in when they heard her story.
Since then, Akpa, now 20, has been living with other children from similar situations at the Daughters of Divine Love's Charity Home in Amorji Nike, a sleepy community that is a 30-minute drive from the central town.
"I love it here," said Akpa, who will attend the University of Nigeria in August. "This place is my home, and the sisters provide our needs, like food and shelter."
The home, run by three sisters and other auxiliary staff, provides food, shelter, clothing, and medical and education services to homeless or abandoned children and children from poor families across Nigeria.
In 2018, despite being the largest producer of oil in Africa, Nigeria displaced India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, with an estimated 87 million Nigerians living on less than $1.90 per day, according to findings by the World Poverty Clock in partnership with the Brookings Institute.
"We pick them from the streets, and it is a thing of joy living with the children here," said Sr. Eucharia Chukwueke, director of the home. "Some are orphans, and some of them were born by mentally [ill] mothers. We bring them to stay with us here to give them better lives. We still have some of them who have some disabilities. ... We are all they have, so we provide for their needs and guide them on what they do on a daily basis."
When the Daughters of Divine Love take in a child, they establish contacts in the child's hometown and keep in touch with the hope of bringing the children back home when they are grown up and able to take care of themselves.
"All the children here have homes, and we take them back or trace their homes when they are fully established in life," Chukwueke said. "Currently, they are 51 in number between 1 and 21 years old. ... Some of our young girls that were trained here are married, and they come here to visit us sometimes."