Phway Initiator, a non-governmental organisation, recently held a three-day empowerment programme for residents of Orile-Ikeja, Lagos.
The event was held at the King’s Palace in Orile, a community that comprised 17 community development associations (CDAs). The emphasis during the programme was on making throw pillows, which are essential items in every home. Other areas of training were hair-making, bag-making, make-ups, curtain settings, and sewing, among others.
The programme, which was not gender-based, was attended by women, men as well as girls from the community and its environs.
Mrs. Nneka Iyke Okafor, the initiator of the programme, dwelt more on women and youth empowerment. She said that she started the project in 2008 by going to different communities in the state to train participants. At the end of every programme, a soft loan was always given out to qualified participants.
Okafor told Daily Sun that PHWAY Initiator was synonymous with empowering people and giving them a means of livelihood, recalling that the programme went beyond skill acquisition.
“It is a programme where the endowment of the woman and other participants are developed by helping them with things to do with their hands so as to keep their homes and make their marriages work.
Okafor, who was collaborating with Mrs. Ifeoma Azubike Orieukwu, an architect, helped in training residents of Orile in throw-pillow making, decoration, furnishing, table mats and house furnishings.
Azubike noted that if the women could not cope with the training or did not want to go into the skills they learnt, they could engage someone whom they would pay at the end of the day, as that was what they stood to gain from the training.
She noted that the essence of partnering with Okafor was because she always took the training to the grassroots, where most young people did not know what the future held for them. Some of them, she said, did not know what to do with their lives and that was why going to the grassroots was the best option.
She lamented that lack of capital posed a problem to many people, but dissuaded the trainees from seeing that as a challenge. In her words, having an idea of what one wanted to do was paramount.
Chairperson of Orile-Ikeja CDA, Alhaja Adekola Taibat, recalled that she came in contact with PHWAY two years ago in a sister CDA (Anifowoshe) and decided to invite its promoters to come and train her own people.
She stated that every home was in need of a pillow and because of that it does not require much capital to start the business.
While applauding the three-day training, she recalled that some NGOs had visited her community before now and taught the residents soap-making, but PHWAY had added throw-pillow making, head-tie making, and make-up, which she too had come to learn. She recalled that she previously visited make-up parlours and paid heavily for their services but today she could make herself up and even tie her head-gear all by herself.
She added that she intended empowering 100 women in her CDA so that they could be gainfully engaged in meaningful ventures and promised to give loans to participants after their training as well as encourage the women to come together in a group of 10 to make weekly contributions of N5,000 each. She said the women could use that to start their own businesses.
Taibat, however, warned the women against taking loans because of the interest involved: “How much are they making that would encourage them to take loans and then be able to pay interest in the end? I feel weekly contribution is much better.”
According to her, Orile-Ikeja CDA also gives scholarship to youths who gain admission into higher institutions by paying for their acceptance fees before their parents would take over.
A daughter of the late traditional ruler in the community, Princess Adenike Adeleye Bamiboye, commended the group for its work of making impart in the lives of the people.
“I came here on the first day of the training and was impressed with what I saw,” she said.
She noted that the programme was akin to what her late father loved while he was alive, recalling that it was one of her father’s dreams to see people engaged in skills that would guarantee a better future. She lauded the initiative, explaining that she had gained a lot from it, while promising to bring people who were ready and willing to participate.
Bamiboye recalled that, in the past, some people who trained in bridal makeovers and styling and head-gear had had to put the skills into practice. She said that the trade could be a source of income for ladies if they were properly trained in it rather than going to patronise fashion houses.