Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) has donated free food items and organised skills acquisition programme for youths and women in Anambra State.
The five-day programme at the Senator Uche Ekwunife Events Centre, Awka, attracted over 500 youths and women from various wards across the state. They were tutored to make hats, beads, slippers, cakes, bags, shoes and hand fans, among others.
The programme was the National Zonal Intervention and Constituency programme by the Federal Government under the office of the Secretary Government of the Federation (SGF) and implemented by NEPAD under the leadership of Princess Gloria Akobundu.
The director of Project Development and Implementation, NEPAD, Mr. Emmanuel Abang, said the programme was aimed at alleviating poverty and creating employment for youths and women.
He said bags of rice, beans and fish, among others, were also distributed to the beneficiaries to fight hunger.
His words: “The programme is about skill acquisition for youths and women and food distribution to alleviate poverty in this zone. For the skill acquisition for the youth and women, you know that the level of unemployment is very high. So, the Federal Government has initiated this programme to empower youths and women in order for them to be self-sufficient, so that they can be employable, so that they can cater for themselves and increase their wellbeing in order for them to be self-employed and stop looking up to government for jobs that are not available.
“Secondly, you know the cost of living is so high and poverty level is very high. The federal government decided that there should be food distribution in all the zones in the country starting from Anambra. This is the first phase. There would be another phase in a couple of weeks.
“Over 1,000 beneficiaries got food items such as rice, beans, yam and fish. This is to fight hunger and put food on their table. The beneficiaries were selected from different wards. It was facilitated by Senator Uche Ekwunife. For the skill acquisition, they are being trained in making beads, hats, confectionery, shoes and bags, among others. It is a one-week programme, and after that we will start another phase.
“There are plans to support them after the training. If you are a barber, you will be given clippers to start and those who were taught to make cakes, flour and other ingredients would be provided for them. There is no cash gift.”
A hat instructor, Mrs. Chidimma James, said she was a NEPAD trainee in Imo State last year, and, as a result of her passion to impart the knowledge to others, she was made one of the trainers.
“I encourage the women and youths to practise what they learnt from the programme because it will help them in becoming somebody in life without depending on anybody. The programme has changed my life and made a difference in my life financially. They should not take it for granted probably because it is free,” she said.
A bead and hat trainer, Makata Jackline Chidimma, said most of the trainees were fast learners: “We also taught them how to use beads to design papers, jewellery and other things.”
Some of the trainees, including Chidimma Nwobi, Rita Okoye, Ego Nwankwo and Osita Eboh, who learnt different skills, commended NEPAD and the Federal Government for the opportunity given to them to be self-reliant.
They promised to put what they learnt during the programme into practice to create jobs and train more people.
“We appeal to other women and youths who did not participate in this batch to try and enrol for the next batch because it will help them to have more skills, even if they have learnt other skills elsewhere. Those roaming the streets looking for jobs should come and learn the skills and be employers of labour,” they said.