By Magnus Eze
One of the stark realities in Abuja, the nation’s capital, today is the increasing number of the urban poor whose condition of living has continued to debilitate because of the harsh economic crunch facing the nation and how to control the downward spiral.
It was in the light of the above that succour came the way of 50 women, mainly nursing mothers, children and youths, recently when a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Social Safety Net Foundation, visited them with its Rural Relief and Empowerment Programme (R-REP) on Saturday, February 26, 2017.
The programme was aimed at reaching out to the poor, in line with the inclusiveness policy of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was held in a slum settlement near the NEPA Junction, Apo, Abuja, bringing huge relief to the beneficiaries.
President of the foundation, Mr. Olalekan Babalola, stated that the initiative was designed to provide succour to the poorest of the poor in the society, as part of their core objective of providing social protection to vulnerable people in Nigeria: “What we have come to do covers Goals 1, 2 and 3 of the SDGs. We are looking at means of ending poverty and hunger in these people’s lives by improving their nutrition and sustainable agriculture. That is why we are giving them valuable education on agribusiness.
“We also want them to have healthy lives and enhanced well-being, that is why we are also giving them talks on hygiene and sanitation, including exclusive breastfeeding.”
The women were trained in agribusiness and other subjects, including exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding, as most of them were nursing mothers. They were also given lessons in hygiene and sanitation and simple and affordable means of combating malnutrition with locally affordable food materials.
No fewer than 1,000 clothing materials were distributed along with 50 bags of rice, 48 cartons of noodles and other food items.
In her own presentation, secretary of the NGO, Mrs. Agnes Olajumoke, emphasised the need for youths to stay away from the abuse of drugs, prostitution and other social vices.
Olajumoke harped on the dangers of hard drugs and illicit substances, saying that they were fuelling the increasing spate of violence, armed robbery, cultism, prostitution and other anti-social behaviours in the society.
“Stay off drugs and substance abuse; it has ruined many and will definitely ruin you too. Also, stay away from bad gangs and all manner of crime,” she said.
As part of the programme, the organisation took the database of all participants with a view to rolling out a more enduring intervention in due course, particularly by empowering them in their chosen areas of specialisation, through vocational training, skills and start-up kits.
Residents of the area were excited by the gesture as they thanked the foundation and asked for more of such, especially in this period of economic recession, which has adversely affected their livelihoods.
Most of the beneficiaries, who cooked for construction workers in the vicinity and sometimes served as casual workers on construction sites, complained of low patronage, noting that construction work had packed up on many of the sites they serviced.
Community leader of the settlement, Malam Kazeem, thanked the NGO for taking the initiative to help the people of the area.
He appealed to corporate bodies, other NGOs and faith-based organisations to support the poor in the society, stressing that government alone could not do it.
Kazeem also enjoined the public to always support organisations like Social Safety Net Foundation with genuine programmes and projects for people.