By Sam Otti
Things fell apart for Mrs Mary Ibe, a mother of five children in Orumba South Local Government Area, Anambra State, when her husband and two brothers-in-law died within one year. The poor widow became the breadwinner of her family and toiled from dawn to dusk in the farm. Sadly, the proceeds from the farm couldn’t cater for the needs of her family, let alone repair the sagging roof of her old mud house.
The widow’s anguish was indescribable. It was in her predicament that a renowned philanthropist from Umuchukwu community, Dr Godwin Maduka, the Chief Executive Officer and Medical Director of the Las Vegas Pain Institute and Medical Centre, the largest pain treatment centre in Nevada, USA visited her family. Touched by the poor living condition of the widow and her five children, he promptly volunteered to build them a new house, which was completed within two months.
Mrs Ibe, who took Daily Sun reporter around her new house, described Dr Maduka as an angel that visited her at the time of need. According to her, the philanthropist has wiped tears of many indigent families, spreading rays of joy in the community by his humanitarian work.
“He does not need you to beg for assistance before he offers to help. I did not know that he was in town the day he visited us. He volunteered to build a new house for us when he saw that the one built by my late husband was in shambles. I have never seen somebody like that”, she said.
Other beneficiaries, Mr Johnson Ezejiofor and his brother, both from Umuchukwu Community, now live in bungalow built and donated to them by Maduka. Ezejiofor said the philanthropist provided all the materials for the building, starting from the foundation level to the roofing, painting and electrical works.
“He gave us the keys after completing the building. You could imagine our joy moving into the bungalow with our wives and children. I thought it was a dream”, he explained.
Ezejiofor, aged 60, said Maduka has turned the rural village to an urban centre by replacing squalid residential huts with modern houses. His philanthropy has turned Umuchukwu, once a redolent community, to the fastest growing community in Anambra State. He also donated several public and residential buildings to people and government institutions, he added.
Sixty-three-year-old man, Godwin Duru, now lives like a king in his one-storey building donated to him by Maduka. His joy was visible, as he excitedly showed this reporter around the building, with green aluminium roofing. He said it was completed within three months and the keys handed to him. The new building, he said, lifted him from misery to a palace.
“I have never seen a man like Dr Maduka. He does these things quietly and nobody hears about what he is doing outside the community. He does not make noise. When he comes home, he walks about quietly, visiting people in their homes. He is such a humble man. I am married man with five children and we lived in an old house that was about falling. Dr Maduka turned my sorrow to joy”, he said.
Maduka also built the Umuchukwu Police Station and staff quarters and handed the keys to the officers. In addition, he donated one-storey building to the officers of the Special Anti-robbery Squad, Umuchukwu and bought two operational vehicles to help the police in effective policing of the area. The Divisional Police Officer, DSP Ignatius Ugwuagbo, confirmed this in a chat with Daily Sun.
“I know that it is not everybody blessed with material resources that can give out. But Maduka has the spirit of giving and he decided to come home and develop his community. I learnt he resides in the United States. He singlehandedly built this police division and handed over to the Anambra State Police Command. Here is now the Divisional Police Headquarters, which before now was a shadow of itself, a skeletal police post under Umunze. He also built staff quarters for both the conventional police and SARS and gave all the features and fittings that one needed to have in a modern house”, he said.
Ugwuagbo urged Maduka to extend his humanitarian gesture beyond Umuchukwu to other communities that make up the division, notably Owerre-Ezukala and Ogbunka. “Charity begins at home. I know that from what he is doing here, he will extend same to other communities in Anambra and Nigeria”, he said.
He said Maduka’s support has retooled the force in its effective community policing operations. With the donation of patrol vehicles, the officers have been mobilised to go extra-mile in ensuring a crime-free society.
“We have good rapports with the community, especially formations like the vigilante groups, the youths, Igwe in council. They are ready to help us in proactive policing strategies we have put in and the thing is working out”, he said.
The President General, Umuchukwu Progressive Union, Okechukwu Nwele, said God has visited the community through the humanitarian work of Dr Maduka, which started since 2004. His words: “In the past, things were falling apart in this community. We had one old primary school in this place. Dr Maduka sprang up from nowhere and he brought so many changes in this community. He is a God-sent in this community and beyond. He has built not less than 52 residential homes for different families, widows and less privileged people. He built post office, magistrate court and he is building a model High Court”.
Nwele said Maduka gave out N56m to different people last year to empower them in their business. According to him, he gave N6m to St Patricks Owerre-Ezukala, a neighbouring community to Umuchukwu, to change the leaking roof of their parish house. He told this reporter that every building with a green roof in the community was built and donated by Maduka.
“He is the architect of peace in this community. He appeals to different groups and individuals, building bridge of peace across various divides. He attributes his wealth to God’s grace. He said he will make this community to become like Las Vegas and by God’s grace, he is working towards it”, Nwele said.
It was gathered that Dr. Maduka’s foundation also drew the attention of the former Governor, Peter Obi, to the deplorable state of local roads in he community, and volunteered to bear the 50 percent cost of construction. This humanitarian gesture moved Obi, who during his visit to the community was overwhelmed by the laudable development in the area and constructed the Owerre-Ezukala, Umuchukwu-Ogbunka roads while in office.
A gigantic water plant, constructed by Maduka, supplies water to the community, even as more structures are being developed in the community to attract government presence, companies and foreign investors.
Nwele explained that the magistrate court built by Maduka brought employment opportunities to lots of people in Umuchukwu community. He expressed confidence that more job opportunities would be created on completion of the ongoing High Court, which would become a model in Anambra State.
In addition to these charity works, Daily Sun visited the new 15-storey building project by Maduka, which would become a centre for medical research on completion. A close aide to the philanthropist, Ray Onyegu, said the centre would be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities in medical science, to assist students in clinical training, as well as provide quality resource materials for lecturers and researchers.
Onyegu, who is also the legal adviser to Maduka, debunked speculations that the US-based philanthropist could be doing those charity works to pave way for his political ambition. Rather, he said the philanthropist has the passion to develop the rural community with all the facilities of a modern city. “What Dr Maduka wants to do is to improve healthcare delivery in this part of the world by using the 15-storey building both as a research and a healthcare delivery institution. Ultimately this is going to be a university town. His interest is in the area of preventive health. He wants to establish a university that would have a strong presence in preventive health”, he said.
With several landmark projects already completed by Maduka in the community, Umuchukwu has become a city on a hill that can never be hidden. Maduka, named Lion of Africa, by his community has become an angel of charity, preaching the good news that investing in the lives of the poor yields greatest interest for the society.