By Damiete Braide
Geared towards reducing the increasing rate of unemployment in Nigeria, 20 females were recently trained to become self-reliant in meeting their daily needs through an empowerment programme that trained some of the beneficiaries to become drivers, riders as well as eventual owners of commercial vehicles and tricycles.
The initiative was championed by Ivanah Women on Wheels Initiative (I-WOW) in collaboration with AA Rescue, MoneyTrust Microfinance Bank and Stallion Auto Keke Limited.
At the latest graduation, the beneficiaries could not conceal their joy over the rare opportunity.
The event started with a thanksgiving service at Ave Maria Catholic Church, Ikate Eleguishi, Lekki, Lagos, where the parish priest, Reverend Father Dominic Onouha, in his message, “Be Fruitful,” quoting the Bible, saying that any person who does not want to work should not eat as there was no room for a lazy man.
He said: “There is dignity in labour and that was why Paul laboured to fend for himself rather than depend on the church to provide for him. We should start with a little beginning and God will bless the works of our hands.”
While commending the founder of I-WOW for the good work, particularly in impacting lives positively, the cleric urged the trainees not to abuse the privilege given to them but to make good use of the life-transforming skills.
The founder, I-WOW, Mrs. Judith Bulama, explained that the NGO, aka Breaking Barriers, was established to help people struggling to survive.
“If I see anyone struggling, I always want to assist the individual. I discovered that, so many times, these same people would come back to request for more help and I would keep giving them. It is not that they are lazy, but they are trying to see how they can make ends means.
“I was in a friend’s office where he interviewed a married woman for a menial job, I wasn’t happy with what she was being offered. I later had the opportunity of having a discussion with the lady and I observed that she was smart and brilliant. I said, if she could be trained in driving and given the necessary support, she would earn more money. That was how the idea of establishing the NGO was conceived. I began to talk to people of like minds and some of them loved the idea,” she said.
On some of the challenges the NGO was facing, Bulama said when she approached banks, they gave stringent conditions, but she thanked MoneyTrust Micro Finance Bank for offering a lenient payment plan for the beneficiaries.
The chairman on the occasion, Mr. Adjarho Mohammed Oyibo, said empowerment was one of the critical aspects in every nation’s life for steady economic transformation.
“This is a wonderful idea that the team has put together. The women have been trained in a special way and the graduands have done exceptionally well. It is a seed that she has sown and it will begin to manifest in due course.
“Since you are going to ride tricycles and drive cars in an urban centre like Lagos, where there is so much chaos, you need to be level-headed and differentiate yourselves from the general behaviour of other drivers,” Oyibo said.
A representative from AA Rescue, Mrs. Ibidunu Oladejobi, said it was a wonderful opportunity for the company to train the women to become professional drivers.
“We have found a circle of bad driving going on, which is the major cause of accidents on our roads. From statistics, we discovered 95 per cent of road accidents are caused by human errors.
“It is our delight to graduate our set of I-WOW professional drivers. This will enable women to take charge and make money for themselves,” she said.
The vice-chairperson of I-WOW, Mrs. Tinuade Fowler, thanked God for the realisation of the vision. She urged the pioneers to go to the society and make a difference. She expressed no doubt that the trainees would succeed.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Stephanie Zion, commended the organisers and sponsors for the privilege given to them.
She promised to spread the good news to other women who might be interested in the programme, so that they could also benefit from subsequent training.
She pledged that they would be good ambassadors and make every party to the partnership proud.