As the world celebrate Widows day in exactly eight days from now, preparation have been concluded to put smiles on 500 widows in Abuja come June 23, 2012.
Widows’ Day is a day set aside globally by the United Nations to give recognition to the plight of widows and their children to restore their human rights and alleviate poverty through empowerment.
Rock of Ages Empowerment Foundation’s initiator, Evang Ignatius Newman Ezeigbo said the foundation derived happiness from identifying with the widows, stressing that over 500 widows’ benefit every month from the non-governmental organisation’s largesse and counselling, stating that 2013 widows have loads of gifts and financial support for widows as well.
Newman told newsmen yesterday in Abuja that the gesture was a product of his personal experience in life. “I was like an orphan having lost my mother at a youthful stage and I also grew up from a poor family. So I know what it means to be hungry and alone. I came to Maiduguri in 1988 and I saw hell before God intervened, but the experience of a particular widow encouraged me to start the Rock of Ages Foundation for widows, orphans and the less-privileged,” he explained.
Newman who said he makes widows to understand and accept the fact that losing someone’s husband was not the end of life, added that this year’s widows’ day coming on June 23rd would witness another round of foods and other items being shared to widows including financial support.
He said, Widows share common fate, same destiny and experiences. But on this day, the women resolved they wouldn’t allow their predicament or situation constitute a stumbling block to their lives”.
Asked how he has been getting funds to fulfil the monthly distribution exercise, he disclosed that some good Nigerians, who are touched by the plight of widows, have been helpful. Many of these good Samaritans in different parts of the country, according to him, supplied food items, money, clothing and other items for the monthly distribution.
He said he usually resorted to his savings when what was donated could not handle the number of the widows, “I am just one of the Nigerian men struggling to survive but I’m just doing this to thank God and to identify with the widows in my humble way, having seen the other side of life before,” he explained.
Recounting his life experience, Newman disclosed that a widow had run to him, crying over the decision of her landlord to eject her, adding that the manner with which the woman recalled the vacuum created by her husband’s demise elicited pity and sadness.
His words: “The idea of starting the foundation actually came when a widow ran to my house one day as I was about leaving my house to travel to Aba. She was crying because her landlord threatened to eject her for non-payment of house rent. Unfortunately, I didn’t have money with me then but I spoke to my neighbour to assist me with the money and I paid part of the money with an assurance to balance upon my return.
He continued, “At Aba during the programme that I went for, I appealed to the people to help a poor widow pay her house rent. I was surprised by the peoples’ response, very impressive. I needed N32,000 to pay the widow’s house but l got over N100,000. So, when I returned, I paid the landlord the balance and my neighbour and I still had a left over, which I shared to three other widows. It dawned on me then that the poor widow was just one of many other widows passing through similar experience. I then decided to look for widows around, first by visiting them regularly, talking to them and giving them my widow’s might. I was amazed to discover that these people have a lot of problems and that it seems society was not very kind to them. They seem to be lonely and unattended to even by their in laws and families,” he noted.
Some of the widows who spoke to Saturday Vanguard,
“Yes, we have told ourselves that life must go on. We can’t keep complaining over our situation. We have lost our husbands but then, that is not the end of life. At least, we are alive and we need to take care of our children, instead of sitting down somewhere and be blaming God or somebody for our situation. We just need to face the challenges of widowhood,” Mrs Faith Owoicho from Benue state, one of the widows said.
About seven years ago, Owoicho did not see her condition as redeemable. For her, life came to an end after the sudden death of her beloved husband but her attendance of seminars and counselling programmes organised by the Maiduguri-based Rock of Ages Foundation, a non-governmental, non religious group, changed her life.
“I can also counsel people now,” she boasted. But it is not only seminar and counselling that Rock of Ages organises for widows; it distributes food stuffs, clothing, cooking utensils, deep freezer for selling ice water, grinding machine and other empowerment materials to the widows every month since 2009.Others widows commended the foundation for its love, support and steadfastness in ameliorating their plights include Madam Rosemary Joseph from Cross River and Elizabeth Jude from Imo state who attested to the support from Rock of Ages Empowerment Foundation, said there was no religion, ethnic or social discrimination in the distribution exercise. “The foundation recognises widows, not their religion or tribe and we are happy about this,” they echoed.Newman also added that the foundation observed that a lot of widows die of strokes and hypertension, stating that geared the foundation up to introduce free medical services every month for widows to undergo free medical check ups and treatment at the centre monthly with all bills paid by the foundation.