By Kehinde Aderemi
Recently, 2,000 widows were treated to a nice time by the Goldcrest Family Centre, a non-governmental organisation with offices at Fadiya Street, Ketu, Lagos.
The Archbishop Vining Memorial Hall, GRA Ikeja, Lagos, venue of the event, played host to many widows that converged on the venue from all the branches in the 20 local government areas and 37 local council development areas of Lagos State.
This year’s event was the 13th edition. The NGO said its aim was to empower widows and make them self-dependent. They also discussed issues affecting widows in the Nigerian society, even as they proffered solutions.
In her speech, president of Goldcrest Family Centre, Rev. Agatha Chukwura, restated the need to empower widows by providing the required tools for them to use their potential and be independent. She called on government at all levels to look into the problems of the Nigerian widows.
“We can only be of help to the widows if we continually offer them the opportunity to be self-dependent. This programme became necessary because it is obvious that widows in Nigeria go through harrowing experiences immediately they lose their husbands, who are the breadwinners of the family. This is sad and the best way for us as a nation is to salvage the situation and give them hope. That is why the Goldcrest Family Centre has considered it necessary and pertinent to put smiles on their faces at all times. We are also providing them with tools and equipment that can help them start a new life,” she said.
Chukwura charged the federal government to allocate funds for the wellbeing of widows, saying, “We can re-integrate them into society by empowering them. Many of them are still young, but they are idle. So, in this case, the government should look into their problem and see how they can be useful to themselves and the nation as a whole.”
Mrs. Funmi Goodluck, who stood in for the Lagos State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA) Mrs. Lola Akande, told the gathering that the state government, through the ministry, had identified the need to support all initiatives that could lead to better wellbeing of widows in the state.
“As a government, we are not unaware of the various problems being faced by the Nigerian widows. In the last two years, we have been partnering with credible NGOs in the state, like Goldcrest Family Centre, to see how best we can impact positively on their lives and this is part of the reasons why we are here. The Lagos State government, under Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, has embarked on various programmes aimed at reducing the level of poverty in the state and we are still not resting on our oars to see that widows in Lagos State are empowered and given the best opportunity to be self-dependent,” she said.
Chairman, board of trustees of Goldcrest Family Centre, Pastor Femi Paul, said it was interesting to note that the Lagos State government was supporting widows in the state.
“What the management of Goldcrest Family Centre does annually with this programme is beginning to yield results. We can see that the Lagos State government, through the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, has keyed into the programme and we can always leverage on this to reach out to more widows in the state and other parts of the country,” he said
On his part, Chief Adewale, representative of the Oworoshonki monarch, said, since its inception about 14 years ago, Goldcrest Family Centre has become a reference point in the state. The monarch later made financial donations to the NGO.
Many of the widows went home with tools like sewing machines, hair dryers and coolers, among others. GCFC also gave awards to some of the sponsors and NGOs for their support over the years.
One of the beneficiaries, Helen Olakpe, from Ikosi Isheri LCDA, told the reporter that she was elated to go home with a sewing machine.
“I am a fashion designer, trained through the empowerment programmes initiated by the Goldcrest Family Centre. Since I lost my husband five years ago, I have been finding it difficult to cater to the needs of my four children. But now, with this sewing machine, I think I can easily fend for myself and my children,” she said.
Shortly after the presentation, widows from Kosofe entertained the guests with cultural dances.
Widows from Iponri also performed a drama sketch on how best to train a child. There was also a dancing competition among the widows and the best dancers went home with gifts.