…Build N50m skills acquisition centre, give 50 girls scholarship
From Okey Sampson, Aba
For the women of Amaokwe Item in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, the 2017 Women August Meeting would not be forgotten in a hurry.
At this year’s edition of the annual conference held at Amaokwe Item Central School on August 12, 2017, the president, Sophia O. Ukachukwu, explained that the infrastructural development of the community was always on top of the agenda each year.
“We also come home every August to rejoice together, discuss and pull ideas together on how to get things working well for all women and the community in general, among others,” she said.
She noted that, in 2006, the women took a bold decision to build a Women Development Centre, with a main hall for multi-purpose use, and a skills acquisition section for young girls: “By 2017, 11 years after, we are living witnesses to the journey so far.”
Ukachukwu said, in 2017, the women decided to look into the welfare of the people and impact on their lives. The women, therefore, established a mass literacy programme even as they awarded scholarship to 50 female pupils at the Item Community High School, to be trained from JS1 to SS3.
“We have opened a dedicated account for the scholarship programme. We thank those who have identified with the programme in terms of financial assistance and are appealing to others to show interest,” she said.
The women are also planning to upgrade the community’s maternity centre.
“Outside that, we presently undertake the payment of half of the cost of deliveries at that centre and we provide women who deliver babies at the maternity centre free baby dresses and diapers. This has increased the number of pregnant women who patronise the maternity centre,” she said.
Ukachkwu added that the women have appealed to the Rotary Club International to assist them in the completion of the Women Skills Acquisition Centre: “Some of their representatives from overseas came and inspected the centre and promised that we would hear from them from now till November. But if they fail to do something, we will continue until that project is completed. We are also involved in the adult literacy programme going on in the community.”
The women leader assured the community that all the programmes she initiated would be completed within her three-year tenure, lamenting, however, that paucity of funds was the major challenge of the union.
National secretary of the union, Ezinne Ijeoma Ogba Nwokoro, said the women of Amaokwe Item always gathered home in August to discuss the welfare of the women, their children and husbands.
“Apart from the scholarship programme, the women have also opened a Charity Shop at Amaokwe Item, where both new and fairly-used clothes donated by rich people in the community are stored for the benefit of the poor and indigent ones among us. Those in need go to the shop to pick clothes of their choice without paying any money,” she said.
She also expressed gratitude to husbands and relatives who attended the August meeting.
A participant from the Aba branch said the August meeting in Amaokwe Item was quite different from August meetings in other communities in Abia State, as the women from the town were always there to discuss the development of the community.
Besides women, some men also attended at the meeting. They included the chairman on the occasion, Chief Theo Onye Ubani, Chief Kingsley Ogba Nwokoro, immediate past president-general, Amaokwe Item Welfare Union; Sunday Ndukwo Onuoha, president-general, Item Welfare Union; Okonji Mmaju, president, Amaokwe Item Welfare Union; and Bishop Sunday Onuoha of the Methodist Church.
One of the men told the reporter: “Some people say that women’s office is in the kitchen, but with the type of organisational skills I have seen today, I won’t be surprised in my lifetime if a woman from Item becomes the governor of Abia State. With what I have seen today, the women have challenged me personally and I will see how I can respond to that challenge.”
All the traditional rulers in Amaokwe Item, Eze Onuoha Okorie, Eze Clement Ofia Chukwu, Eze Chile Igwe Ogo, Eze Osoka Agwu, Eze Chinasa Eke Ije and Eze Lawrence Chukwu Ike witnessed the event.
One of the traditional rulers said: “For us, the August meeting is a veritable instrument for the development of the community. The women are building a civic centre in Amaokwe Item that is worth more than N50 million. It has been roofed; they are doing the finishing now. Our women are doing well and we will fully support them.”
Eze Osoka Agwu of Amaba Ukwu, Amaokwe Item, explained what the August meeting was all about.
His words: “The Amaokwe Item Welfare Union, of which the the women’s wing is an integral part, is as old as independent Nigeria. It was in 1960 that the union was made very strong. It was not like we were not having meetings before then, but that was the period it was made stronger. It was then we encouraged our women to be having their own meeting, so that they would be doing well, and they are doing well. The August meetings started not quite up to 15 years and the women are utilizing it well for the development of the community.”
At the end of the event, it was disclosed that the money realised at the event would be used for the continued development of the community. The meeting featured various events, including a march-past, a drama competition and an egg race competition.