Wednesday, November 27, 2019 3:14 pm
By Nehru Odeh
Dollin Holt’s humanitarian work defies description. For over 12 years, the Nigerian- born humanitarian, who is currently based in the United Kingdom, has been touching lives of the less privileged and those displaced by conflicts in Africa in very unique ways. He has been changing lives for the better through Caprecon International Development Foundation, a non- governmental organization he founded in 2007.
The most remarkable thing about his interventions in Africa is that he has been helping the less privileged not just by providing funds for them but by making them engage in sustainable strategies and initiatives that will ensure they are not just able to cater to their needs but do so for the rest of their lives.
Recently, Holt celebrated 12 years of service to humanity this year in the United Kingdom and Africa in grand style. For instance, in Nairobi, Kenya he, through Caprecon International Development Foundation, funded a poetry competition at the end of which prizes were awarded to three winners on 14 October, 2019. “Today it was a great honour to award the prizes of a poetry competition conducted at school level. The prize was funded by Caprecon International Development Foundation, CIDF, based in the United Kingdom. We’re dearly grateful to CIDF Director, Dollin Holt for the support. We’re glad that the event was successful,” Nyamu KJ posted on his Facebook page.
The intriguing thing about Holt’s humanitarian interventions is that, like the mustard seed, it started small in 2007, as what he regards as an epiphany and grew to the present level.. “In 2007, I had an epiphany of some sort. I received an email from an unknown person, a lady from a sprawling poverty stricken area on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenyan. She was a widow with three children doing hazardous jobs, including scavenging for junks amidst soggy garbage at junk yards, to make ends meet. The meagre money she makes was barely enough to buy some food, not to talk of paying school fees for her children. She had to withdraw them from school. I was so touched by her story and decided to act. Ordinarily, I will press the delete button, treating such emails as trash, in a world of unceasing internet fraud and dishonesty.’ Holt said.
However, Holt did not relent. He went further to make some enquiries through a friend in Kenya and found out that the woman wasn’t making things up. “However, there was something about this mail that struck me; something inside of me yelled: ‘Dollin, this is a genuine cry for help!’ So I hearkened to this inner voice. I made contacts with a friend in Kenya, who did some investigations to confirm the genuineness of her story; and helped to deliver a small amount of money, meant for the payment of her children’s school fees, to her,” Holt explained.
However, something intriguing happened that gave Holt an idea to start up a charity organization that would inspire initiatives for sustainable self-development. “But what happened next struck me as uniquely insightful and it birthed Caprecon’s founding philosophy; which is: calling, initiatives that inspire Hope and Dignity. She did not pay the fees. She started a mobile hairdressing business, something she had always wanted to do; and within a short period raised enough money for her children’s fees and uniforms, and to put food on the table. It then occurred to me that helping people to help themselves was my calling,” Holt maintained.
Since then Holt has touched many lives in different ways. “Providentially, some good people helped me to activate this call and the journey began. We started helping a number of people informally to set up small scale businesses to generate income, especially in places with debilitating unemployment and poverty. Some acquired second hand sewing machines to mend torn clothes or make dresses and charge small fees. Others took up beauty courses to become hairdressers and barbers, or ran food and craft stalls in the local market. You would be amazed at how small efforts transform lives,” he enthused.
However Holt visited Nigeria in 2012, after being away from the country for a long time and experienced the harrowing effects extreme poverty and violent conflicts can have on people; especially young people. Finding solutions to these seemingly intractable problems and minimizing their effects led to the registration of Caprecon as a charitable organisation in October, 2010. Asked what Caprecon stands for, Holt said it is an acronym for Cameron for Peace and Reconciliation. Cameron was the name of his child “who chose not come into this unpleasant world in 2000.”
“Since then, we have achieved so much, and brought smiles to many faces. We have been involved in a number projects, including some in the literary field. I have lost count. I did not do this alone, and so I pay tribute to everyone who has, in one way or another, touched us with their kindness. Without you, there will be no Caprecon. Help us to keep growing,” Holt said.
Asked what the vision o Caprecon International Development foundation is, he said: “We envisage a world of peaceful coexistence within and between communities everywhere; where everyone lives in dignity and meet their basic needs.”
Holt, referring to its mission, also said: “Embedded within our mission, and core to our values, is playing the role of catalyst. We empower people to work their way out of poverty and be in a position to get a hold on their lives through education, training and self-employment. We promote reconciliation, dialogue and other peace-bringing strategies, and research into the sources of conflict, so as to prevent it. Integral to what we do also, is promoting humanitarian care, human rights (the rights of minorities) and human development.”
Holt and a team of dedicated volunteers work mostly from the United Kingdom, while supporting and empowering local organizations in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi.
He graduated from the Universities of East London and Bedfordshire with post-graduate degrees in Forced Migration and Refugee Studies (MA), International Human Rights Law (LLM) and Media Representation (MA by Research).
Widely travelled, Holt lives in Luton, United Kingdom, where he currently works as an Adviser/Work-Coach for the Department of Works and Pension. He is a fellow of the following bodies: the Royal Society of Arts, Tom Lantos Institute in Budapest, Institute of Training and Occupational Learning and was a member of the Management Committee, Network for Peace, England and currently a member of the Advisory Board of the west African Academy of Public Health. (WAAPH).