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Charity to Cheer Foundation

One bright sunny morning in 2012, Maryam Shehu Mohammed wound down the window of her car and threw a piece of paper to a man sitting by the roadside. Unknown to her, that was a defining moment for the path she was headed in life. The man had elephantiasis and Maryam had seen him every day, sitting by the junction of a traffic light on her way to work. The piece of paper contained her phone number and, as she shouted “call me” and sped away, she never anticipated the effect of this singular act several years down the line. The man, Ahmed (not the real name), called her and, after a meeting with him, Maryam discovered that he needed three hundred thousand Naira (NGN300,000) for a surgical intervention. He was already a registered patient at a hospital in Kano but could not afford the fees for surgery.

Maryam thought hard about the situation and eventually resorted to talking to family and friends. She sent out a BBM message with her name, phone number and account number, asking people to help. The first call came within thirty minutes with a donation of one hundred and fifty thousand Naira (NGN150,000), and Maryam broke down and cried. Within ten days, she had received donations of over seven hundred thousand Naira (N700,000), paid into her account. So, she called Ahmed to share the good news. She put him in a cab, gave him some little money herself, paid the taxi driver and asked him to take Ahmed to the hospital in Kano. She then contacted the hospital and made plans with the doctors to receive the patient. But the patient never arrived and his phones remained switched off. After many days of worry for Maryam and the doctors, Ahmed finally made contact with Maryam to explain that he had changed his mind. He would not be going to the hospital but rather to a prayer house and would not be persuaded otherwise.

Maryam was in a dilemma! Her name and integrity were at stake. Using her account statement, she put together the names of all the donors, some of whom she knew and some she didn’t know. She then sent another BBM message asking the donors to contact her as the gentleman had opted out. She got responses from about 30 people. She then proceeded to form a BBM group with these people. She narrated what had happened, apologised, and asked them to take their money back. To her surprise, only one person accepted a refund. The others maintained that the money was donated for a purpose and urged her to find someone else who needed it. Eventually, the money, which had then grown to almost a million Naira was donated to support a cancer patient’s treatment. After that, Maryam sought to close the group but the people resisted, insisting that they must continue to help people as much as they could as a group. That was the unofficial birth of Charity and Cheer Foundation.

It has been eight years since then, and the Charity and Cheer Foundation was officially registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission in 2014. The Foundation has its bank account, a WhatsApp group cum office, 30 dedicated members who double as staff and Maryam overseeing the activities of the group. The office runs virtually, and they operate through debates and votes on the WhatsApp group for projects and commitments submitted by members. These 30 individuals, who are now like family, undertake to make monthly contributions which form the bulk of the resources for carrying out projects. For more significant projects, they reach out to the public for support. Some organisations, like Etisalat and an Islamic relief organisation, have also partnered with them to sponsor some projects.

The members identify projects and present them to the group who then debate, vote and release the resources to the member to run the project. Their projects focus on health, education and feeding. Some of the projects accomplished by Charity and Cheer include free cataracts surgeries, feeding programmes in schools, education sponsorship for orphans and schoolchildren, provision of boreholes, and payment of medical bills, amongst others. They have impacted and touched many lives through their projects.

A group of 30 individuals, all very educated and in full-time employment, working in different sectors and industries, bound together by shared values, goals, and the passion for impacting the lives of other people, make up the Charity to Cheer Foundation. Maryam, a lawyer, in full-time employment, pursuing and eventually completing a PhD, manages the organisation simultaneously. In her words, the success of the Foundation has been “the people. It is the people because it is the people that decided that we were not going to part, that we had to stay together, that we had to stick together from the beginning. It is the people who keep pushing”.



  1. This clearly shows how a single step can lead to a thousand miles. With such mindset, it clearly shows there is hope for Nigeria.

  2. Maryam is an inspiration to all who know her. May God bless all member me of charity to cheer foundation,amin

  3. WoW! Very impressive. Keep up the good work. May Allah reward you all, abundantly.

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