Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
All over Nigeria, the economic climate is far from promising. But even as government at all levels remains seemingly apathetic to the people’s plight, a number of organisations and private individuals are rising up to offer a helping hand.
One of such people is Chief Ebuka Okafor from Nnobi, Anambra State. Through his Ebuka Okafor Foundation (EOF), he has empowered many unemployed residents to learn various skills. The foundation has also equipped such people with relevant machines and tools to be self-reliant, thereby addressing poverty and unemployment frontally.
With special love for and emphasis on widows and indigent women, the foundation, which started five years ago, has made tremendous impact in society.
Though it carries out other day-to-day activities, the EOF organises an annual empowerment day, where the activities of the year are reviewed, while a new set of ground-breaking empowerment programme takes place.
The fifth edition, which held recently at Nnobi community, attracted a number of dignitaries, including former governor of Anambra State and vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Peter Obi, Senator Uche Ekwunife, traditional rulers, captains of industry, religious leaders and politicians, among others.
Various items were distributed in large numbers to trained beneficiaries, including grinding machines, hair driers, sewing machines and generators, among others.
There were also bags of assorted foodstuff, including rice, beans, garri, noodles, tomatoe paste, onions as well as clothing materials shared to the beneficiaries.
Distributing the items shortly after a church service at the All Saints’ Anglican Church, Ifite-Ebenesi Nnobi, the founder of Ebuka Okafor Foundation, Sir Ebuka Okafor, disclosed that what motivated him to set up the foundation was the need to touch lives and alleviate the sufferings of people who were living in agony.
Okafor, a Lagos-based business mogul and philanthropist, said he usually felt delighted whenever he saw other people enjoying from the donations by the foundation, adding that he also felt angry and sad seeing indigent people suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
He stressed that his vision in setting up the foundation was anchored on the empowerment of the physically-challenged, widows, and the less-privileged, as well as mobilising public opinion and encouraging voluntary action against social ills.
“People answer various divine calls at various times. I sensed my own divine calling in June 2010 when my father died, leaving his beloved wife, my mother, a widow. The pain of widowhood was so heavy on my mother that she felt the ground was caving-in under her feet. It was then that the burden of how to take care of her stood face-to-face with me and her plight awakened in me the need to also extend love and care to as many people as possible,” he said.
Coordinator of the foundation, Mrs. Blessing Nweke, in her remarks during the unveiling of the foundation’s magazine and cutting of the anniversary cake, noted that the foundation had taken care of many scholarships for undergraduates and also given free financial aid to individuals after training them in business and crafts.
In his speech, former Governor Obi commended Sir Okafor for his philanthropic acts and charged other affluent individuals to use their resources for the well-being of society.
Also, the Anambra State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Lady Ndidi Mezue, described Okafor’s deeds as magnanimous. She urged the philanthropist not to relent in touching lives positively, noting that a man would always reap what he sows.
She noted that Okafor had not only given the beneficiaries a lifeline, but had saved them from poverty and unemployment, since they would be self-reliant henceforth.
Some of the beneficiaries who spoke at the event, including Mrs. Chinwe Nwani, Mrs. Maria Ikechukwu, Mrs. Ifeoma Ani, Mrs. Euphemia Ojukwu, Mrs. Benedict Onyenankeya and Mrs. Rebecca Egbudike, poured encomiums on Okafor and prayed that God would bless him abundantly, noting that their lives have been touched positively by the gesture.