By Stanley Onyekwere
Faces of over 310 widows and 100 orphans glowed with wide smiles when Helpline Foundation for the Needy, a non-governmental organization based in Abuja, the nation’s capital held its 10th edition of bringing succor to the less privileged in the society.
The organization, in the spirit of this year’s Christmas and New Year celebrations doled out foodstuff to the widows and orphans, including other vulnerable groups in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its environs.
At the out-reach programme held at the Diplomats Park and Garden, Garki, Abuja, penultimate week, the beneficiaries especially the women dressed in their various local attires couldn’t hide their joy and happiness, as they engaged in singing and dancing, apparently in appreciation of the kind gesture by the Foundation.
Interestingly, for this year, the beneficiaries were drawn from different women groups within and outside the FCT such as: Brekete Family Widows, National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), Home Alone Widows, Salama Love Widows and Orphans, Women of Integrity Initiative amongst others.
Apart from distribution of assorted food items to all the beneficiaries, the Foundation provided different empowerment equipment and cash packages to some deserving ones, to enable them engage in economic activities that will free them from the shackles of poverty and reliance on friends and families for survival.
Also, three among the 100 orphans got scholarship to secondary school level, while some others went home with free school bags, books and other educational items.
Many of the beneficiaries expressed their joy and appreciation to the Foundation, for sharing the joy of the yuletide season with them.
One of the beneficiaries, Agatha Nwankwo, who expressed her joy over the gesture, said that she has benefited from the scheme in the past five years.
She therefore and prayed for God to replenish the initiator of the annual outreach programme.
Another beneficiary, Mrs. Priscilla Nkabuike, who was lost words to express how she felt regarding the kind gesture done to her and others by the Foundation, said most of them had lost hope of what to celebrate with their children during this year’s Christmas and New Year season.
“Before now, I have lost hope on how to celebrate this Christmas season because there was neither food nor cloth to wear.
“But with this succour provided to me today, I can go home and meet my six children with what to eat and be happy for this Christmas,” she expressed.
On her part, the President of Salama Love orphans and widow, Evangelist Afiniki Salama Love, who decried that she had being running the past 18 years without help from anybody, said coming in contact with the Foundation brought a total transformation to the scheme.
She noted that the foundation through its periodic reach-out to widows and orphans in Abuja and environs, have continued to improve their lives.
But, while welcoming the beneficiaries and guests at the occasion, the President of the Foundation, Jumai Ahmadu, took time explain that the reach-out programme is targeted at the less privileged.
Noting that the number of widows has increased, she however stressed the need for the widows to have a change of mindset regarding their widowhood, as God who sees through their minds will provide for them what to use to train their children and shield them from the arrows of devil.
Ahmadu revealed that besides the reach-out programme, the Foundation f had in the past embarked on capacity building in various vocational skills such as tailoring, hair dressing soap making among others.
She however disclosed that the Foundation has concluded plans to establish food bank at the Park, for widows and other vulnerable groups of the society.
According to her, the Foundation which was primarily set up to give hope to less privilege women and children especially widows and orphans, by putting foods on their table and clothing them.
“There is a lot of hunger in the land, couple with the hard economic situation, but we can say of that, and abandon our responsibility in our own little way. You can put a smile on your neighbour’s face with any little thing you.
“Imagine the joy in heaven if we, on the earth here can strive to put a little smile on the faces of ourselves, the world will indeed be a better place to live” she said.
She therefore appealed to other NGOs and government agencies to focus more on ameliorating the plight of the less privileged in the society.
“I started this reach-out to women and orphans since my little days as a Youth corps member, and since then it has been marvelous as God has continued to bless me with abundance of what to give to the widows, and as such, it beholds on me to do more.
“As the number of the widows and orphans continue to increase, possibly as a result of the on-going killings in the North East part of the country by Boko-Haram insurgents, the plan of the Foundation is to establish a food bank for widows and other disadvantaged persons of the society where people to bring their food stuffs and other materials for distribution to less privileged people.
“We are here today to reach out to widows and orphans in the FCT and its environs, which is a demonstration of God’s mercy upon our human efforts.
“Though, the number of widows has increased but with God on our side and the help of friends we are coping; the increase in the number of widows might not be unconnected with the insurgency in the country.
“However, to tackle the increase in the number of widows, we are taking another step by establishing a food bank so that the reach-out programme will be carried out every month instead of annual event.
“We have notified the leaders of the various associations about this new innovation because they will be the channel for distribution,” she stressed.
Considering the imperative of skills acquisition for the women and the orphans, Mrs. Ahmadu said that the Foundation is currently working on developing a skill acquisition center in Kuje, Abuja, where some of the women will undergo skills acquisition class in different fields to enable be relevant to the society, and financially contribute to their well being.
Similarly, the founder of the Foundation stressed the need for the men, being husbands to take care of themselves, as only good health can prolong the lives of the men so as they can continue to carter for their respective families.