It was a moment of mixed feelings for over 1,500 widows and orphans in Abuja, who benefitted from kind gesture of Rock of Ages Empowerment Foundation.
Aside a bag of rice and attached condiments that each of the beneficiary got, grinding machines were also distributed to few of the women, while N30,000 capital was equally given to 60 of them that have successfully completed training in different areas of interest and strength.
The gesture was part of the annual outreach of the organisation to commemorate the International Widows Day, set aside by the United Nations to address the poverty and injustice faced by millions of widows and their dependents across the world.
In Nigeria, there are millions of women who were forced into widowhood by different circumstances including conflicts, sickness and disease, poverty and other natural cause of death of their husbands. Regrettably, many of them enjoy little or no attention from family members, neither do they benefit from special government programmes or activities to help alleviate their sufferings.
They practically rely on the interventions of kind-hearted people or corporate organisations, to assist them with food and non-food items, to carter for themselves and their dependents.
Founder of the organisation, Ignatius Newman, said the outreach covers women from different faith, ethnic group, political ideology, among others. He said he was happy and fulfilled that the foundation has been able to accomplish its desire to champion an aggressive campaign on the need for empowerment of widows, orphans and other vulnerable people in the society: “The foundation has transformed the lives of over 8,000 widows and their dependents in past few years, through opportunity for skills acquisition, financial empowerment, monthly medical check-up and payment of school fees.”
He said their interventions are growing everyday because they have continued to identify areas of need in the society, particularly as it concerns women, children and other vulnerable groups.
Several speakers used soothing words to encourage the women to be hopeful and not give up on life. They promised to mobilise more financial and other support needed for their empowerment.
A beneficiary, Janet Madaki, said she joined the foundation in June 2012 and was empowered in 2013 with a sewing machine: “I started sewing bags, school bags, travel bags and other things. I sell these bags for N1, 500 or more. I train my children with proceeds from the bags.”
Another beneficiary, Theresa Okakwu, alleged her in-laws forcefully took over her husband’s property when he died few years ago: “I was extremely frustrated to the point that I had to relocate to Abuja with my children because they left nothing for me. A friend introduced me to the foundation. I joined and was trained by the foundation. They empowered me with some cash to start business and the rest is story.”
Julian Ukwueze also gave her testimony: “I had only N25,000 when my husband died in 2008. I joined the foundation in 2013 and participated in catering class. In 2016, they empowered me with a big frying pan and spoon.
“I borrowed N60,000 from a micro finance bank and started a restaurant, baking and catering. It has been a successful journey thus far. I can confidently serve my customers different types of food. I have three children and I use the business to train them in school. I don’t even pay house rent anymore because I have built my own house.”