A woman of excellence and great repute, Toyin Ojora Saraki has a heart as lovely as her face; she is a lawyer and the founder of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBF Africa), a pan-African maternal health and wellbeing charity, dedicated to advocacy and the formation of best practices in health, education, women’s empowerment and social welfare . She is one of the resounding voices for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 in Nigeria, which seek significant reduction in the rate of maternal and infant mortalities before 2015.
Toyin Saraki is the elegant wife of Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki; the former Governor of Kwara State, Nigeria and also a former chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF). Her Excellency has devoted more than 20 years of her life to a course very dear to her heart; child and maternal health. Her main goal is to see that women no longer die from childbirth and that every child in Africa has access to all the basic needs of life.
Mrs.Saraki was born on September 6, 1964 to the family of Otunba Adekunle and Erelu Ojora. She had her elementary education in Lagos, Nigeria after which she proceeded to the United Kingdom where she attended Roedean School, Brighton Sussex. Mrs.Saraki bagged her L.L.B and L.L.M degrees at the London School of Oriental and African Studies and Kings College both of the University of London and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1988.
While in England, she devoted most of her time to taking care of the aged and sick. She also made efforts to be a part of the routine welfare scheme of the schools she attended. This great woman has dedicated her life to selfless service to humanity; she is always on the move to save lives and give hope to hopeless. Mrs Saraki is a global advocate of the UN’s Every Woman Every Child effort, acts as board chair of the White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria, is also the Chairperson of the FIDA International Committee on Laws Protecting the Rights of Children and the Goodwill Ambassador of the Olave Baden-Powell Society (OB-PS), an organization that supports the efforts of the World Association of Girls Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). She also sits on the boards of the Global Foundation for the Elimination of Domestic Violence and The Africa Justice Foundation.
A writer once said “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”ToyinOjoraSaraki has not only lost herself, but has given herself away in the service to humanity which to another writer is the highest religion. She has gone the extra mile to do the “not so convenient”, touching the lives of many, especially those of the less privileged women and children. Hundreds of women have benefited from the enterprise scheme of her organization. She has also paid particular attention to improving the lives of people with special needs among several other lifesaving initiatives and interventions.
In a TEDx speech she recounts, “We have done a lot for legislation to raise the expectations of what your government owes you. We also work very closely on the front-line with women, we have a fund that will pay money if you need a caesarean section and you can’t pay for it, to save lives. But at the same time we believe that a health- seeking woman is necessarily an empowered woman so we try to get the woman before the emergency occurs to train them about what should be the best –case scenario…as Africans we are not there yet in what we need for our people”.
This great woman is reckoned as a leading advocate for the actualization of the rights of children. In November 2008, she delivered the keynote address at the 33rd biennial convention of the International Federation of Women Lawyers in Milan, Italy on the topic “Children are the Future; What Rights, What Laws?” She has also received several awards of recognition for her contribution to the emancipation of women and children in Nigeria and beyond, including the Award for Advocate of Excellence for Maternal and Child Health from the Association of Resident Doctors, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital Chapter among many others.
Toyin Saraki is also engaged in numerous philanthropic gestures one of which is the establishment of The Lifestream Charity in 1993. The Lifestream, pioneered by Mrs.Saraki, is a group comprising of like- minded and socially responsible friends who desire to help the society. The organisation seeks children with heart deformities and has sponsored corrective surgeries in Israel, United Kingdom and South Africa. The charity also offers scholarships to indigent students, sends relief to disaster victims and builds schools for communities.
This great lady continues to make her mark in Africa, saving lives and enriching our dear Continent. You too can make a difference; brighten the corner where you are.