St. Joseph Orphanage/School in Ogoja, Cross River State, Nigeria


Abode for Children has helped to create a community which provides housing, nutrition, clothing, education, and medical care to hundreds of the poorest of children throughout the Idum-Mbube, Ogoja, Nigeria region. The motto of St. Joseph Orphanage is “To Keep Hope Alive.” This motto is lived every day at St. Joseph.

Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa with 146 million people. Sadly, throughout Nigeria, 70% of the population lives below the poverty line with a 56% malnutrition rate, even though farming is the primary economic income source. Farmers primarily grow yams but water sources are a constant problem and crops often fail. Ogoja is a village community, located in the northern part of Cross River State, which is in the southeastern part of the country. It is mostly Christian.

In 1996, the vision to help the children in Nigeria was laid when Thomas Rutkoski and his wife Mary went to visit Fr. Peter Abue in his village in Idum-Mbube, Ogoja. While there, Thomas was so moved by the plight of the hundreds of orphaned children living uncared for on the street, and having no access to education, that he knew he had to do something to change their desperate situation. The dream of creating a faith-based community to alleviate poverty began. Thomas Rutkoski donated profits from his first book, Apostles of the Last Days, to begin construction of St. Joseph Orphanage/School. In 1999, the project was completed and ready for the children. The project campus has since grown to contain a dormitory, a two-story classroom building, which includes a cafeteria, lab rooms and an assembly hall. A second dormitory was created in an existing outpost to house the boys since they were getting older, a brand new medical clinic was built to provide critical, life-saving medical care, and running water has been connected to the building.

The sponsorship program began in the year 2000 and has become the backbone of Abode for Children, providing a constant, stable stream of support for the most basic needs of all the children. It is through this network of individuals that this dream has grown into a strong foundation of support that is helping the poorest of the poor.

Abode for Children and many gratified sponsors celebrated the first graduating class in the summer of 2009, many of whom had grown up in the orphanage/school and had earned the right to graduate! Since then graduates have moved on to higher education or back into their community to help build a brighter tomorrow. A few boys have gone into the seminary to study to become a priest.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 1.09.27 AMSt. Joseph Orphanage/School houses approximately 160 children and educates approximately 800 students each year. Children come from various family situations. Some are orphans, and some are social orphans; that is to say they have parents, but due to the prevalent poverty, illiteracy, and the destitution of the country, they have no one to provide basic care for them and would otherwise have nowhere to turn for help. Through the generosity of donors and sponsors, hope is kept alive and these children flourish at St. Joseph Orphanage /School.  Join our team to Keep Hope Alive!

A welcomed and much awaited addition to the St. Joseph community, the St. Benedict Joseph Labre Medical Clinic, was dedicated in 2011, in order to provide life saving, medical attention to the children at the orphanage/school. Not only does it provide free medical care to the children but it also serves the community as a whole, with preventative health care, first aid and non-serious issues.

Interestingly, St. Benedict Joseph Labre was a French monk who dedicated his life to the service of the sick and dying and to the education and health of rural children.

The clinic is staffed by a full-time nurse and a doctor who visits three times per week. For more serious issues, the clinic works in collaboration with the primary hospital in the city.

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 1.12.27 AMOur donors and sponsors are the best in the world! It may take a few years but the donors and sponsors are willing to chip in a little more as their means allow to provide the St. Joseph Orphanage/School with needed additions which sponsorship funds alone cannot cover. One example is the much needed bus to transport commuting children to and from the school, to transport students to excursions from the school to other locations, to transport children from the medical clinic to the outlying hospitals in an emergency situation, and to transport food and supplies to the orphanage. With the call to action sounded and in only two years, the donors and sponsors at Abode for Children purchased a new Toyota Hiace Bus in 2013!

The bus has had a great positive impact on the St. Joseph community. This quote from Fr. Peter Abue sums it up best: “This is what children never dreamed of, to leave their village location and to go someplace else!”

People with a loving and generous heart support Abode for Children! They have changed the lives of the poor and otherwise hopeless children of Idum-Mbube, Ogoja.

Will you help us to Keep Hope Alive?

Please consider sponsoring a child today!

Day in the Life of a St. Joseph Boarder Child

The children of St. Joseph have a full and active day. They are up at 5:00 am to bathe and arrive at morning Mass at 6:00 am. They complete morning duties and then eat at 7:30 am.  By 8:00 am the commuter students have all arrived and all of the children attend morning assembly/prayers and head to classes. Class subjects include English, Reading, Mathematics, Religion, Science – Biology, Physics, Chemistry at the higher levels. Classes will continue until 2:00 pm with two small breaks allowed in between. The commuters leave to go home. Then lunch is served followed by afternoon chores and siesta. At 4:00 pm there is evening prep, which involves self study, tutoring, or group projects. At 5:00 pm everyone pitches in for compound cleaning or games, such as soccer (football), badminton, running, volleyball. At 6:30 pm there is dinner and evening prayers, evening bath and time for clubs, or night studies. Lights out at 10:00 pm to end a full and productive day.


  • Marching Band
  • Farm/Agricultural Club
  • Fatima Choir Club
  • Sports Club
  • Dramatic Club
  • Cultural Dance Club
  • Anti-HIV/AIDS Club
  • Craft Club
  • Prayer Club

All birthdays are celebrated at the same time with a large party for everyone who has a birthday in a particular month. A National Day of Celebration is on October 1st for Independence Day. The school  has competed in various competitions such as March Pasts and traditional dancing, as well as in sports, and always does significantly well in these events, oftentimes taking first place. A Christmas celebration takes place before all the children break for the holiday. Children residing at the orphanage, who have no place to go, are welcomed into various village homes during the Christmas break.