Tanitoluwa Adewumi, age 8, was a young boy, son of refugees in New York, who spent his time in a homeless shelter sitting on the floor learning chess moves for the first time barely a year ago. Tani’s family fled northern Nigeria in 2017, fearing attacks by Boko Haram terrorists on Christians such as themselves. “I don’t want to lose any loved ones,” his father, Kayode Adewumi. So they fled their home and arrived seeking asylum on the shores of America as many have; a process they are to this day undergoing. Once they arrived in New York City a pastor helped steer them to a homeless shelter. Tani began attending the local elementary school, P.S. 116, which has a part-time chess teacher who taught Tani’s class how to play. Tani was fascinated by the game and that is how their story began to change.
Tani’s mother had to write a letter to the school because they could not afford the fees for Tani to join the chess club, the club waived the fees for the family in the shelter and he joined to further study the game that had caught his interest. His talent for the game was undeniable and in the year he was in America he not only learned how to play but began to win. His small bed in the homeless shelter began to collect trophies beside it as Tani entered and won tournaments. A few weeks ago Tanitoluwa won the New York state chess championship for his age group. This story very nearly became your Good News Story at the time for its inspiration; but it wasn’t finished yet.
Because now Tani and his family are no longer at the homeless shelter and he no longer has to pile his trophies by his bed and hope no one steals them because they all live with him in his new apartment. When the world found out about Tanitolua Adewumi they opened their hearts and gave in a gofundme effort which raised over $200,000.00 in the 9 days it has been open. But more than that! A half-dozen readers of the article offered housing — in a couple of cases, palatial quarters, of which they accepted one of the more modest options. An anonymous donor paid for a years rent. And still more, immigration lawyers offered pro-bono assistance to the Adewumis, to help with their asylum claim, and three film companies are vying to make movies about Tani and his remarkable rise to chess fame.
It is such a beautiful story that speaks to talent not being reserved for the wealthy or privileged, of how immigrants; even refugees and asylum seekers can enrich our world, and how the kindness of those with means can change the lives of others. Find out more about your Good News Story of the Day here.
Story and Image from the New York Times.