Homeless Chess Champion, 8, Who Fled Boko Haram With Christian Family, Gets New Apartment

Tani making a bold move while his father watches over him (Photo courtesy of Russell Makofsky )


-- More than a week ago, 8-year-old Tanitoluwa Adewumi was living in a homeless shelter in Manhattan with his family. But ever since he came under the spotlight for winning the New York State chess champion title for his age group, his life has completely turned around. By the grace of God, his win led him to a home.

With gratitude, Tanitoluwa, also known as Tani, moved into a two-bedroom apartment near his current school with his family.

“Our family is now enjoying home cooked meals, Tani is getting on with his chess studies and we eagerly look towards the journey of the Tanitoluwa Adewumi Foundation,” Tani’s father, Kayode Adewumi, updated on a GoFundMe page

Having an apartment was probably beyond the Adewumi family’s wildest dream two years ago when they first arrived in the United States after fleeing from northern Nigeria. The God-fearing Christian family feared they would fall as victims to the Boko Haram’s persecution due to their faith.

“Christians in northern Nigeria, especially in the Sharia states, face discrimination and exclusion as second-class citizens. Christians with a Muslim background also face rejection from their own families and pressure to give up Christianity,” Open Doors USA, an organization that serves persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries, states on its website.

The Adewumi family received a new home after Tani clinched the New York State chess champion title at the 52nd NY State Scholastic Chess Championship for kindergarten to third-grade players.

Tani’s story made headlines nationwide and prompted some 4,898 people to pour in over $254,615 in donations for the Adewumi family in 14 days via the GoFundMe page set up by Russel Makofsky, who foresees the chess program at Tani’s elementary school.

“Let’s all show our HEART and help Tani’s family secure a home where he can continue on his journey,” Makofsky wrote.

Amazingly, one anonymous donor stepped up to offer the family a two-bedroom apartment—rent-free for a year, according to the New York Times.

Excited, the 8-year-old said, “I have a home! I have a home!” when he arrived at their new apartment.

With the donations raised via the GoFundMe page, the Adewumis said they were going to give 10 percent to their local church and launch the Tanitoluwa Adewumi Foundation using the remaining money, in the hope of sharing “the generosity of others to those in need” and for “anybody who is coming from Africa who is in the position we were in.”

“We have formed a board of trusted advisers and through prayer and our shared vision, along with the kindness and generosity of each and everyone of you we will have a powerful, meaning and lasting impact on the world!” Kayode Adewumi wrote. “From the words of Tani – ‘I want to help other kids.’”

The Adewumis thanked God for giving everything they asked for—a home, legal assistance, and a job to earn a living.

“We give God the glory!” Kayode Adewumi wrote in an update on the GoFundMe page.

“So we take our blessings and give them back to God and to the World,” he added.

It’s incredible how Tani helped pull his family out of poverty through his passion of playing chess. He only started learning how to play chess from a part-time chess teacher in his elementary school—P.S. 116—over a year ago.

It must be a miracle from God!

We are glad the Adewumis are paying it forward!