Chief Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano’s Passion For Charity – Ejike Anyaduba
For 35 odd years that she was in the wild, presumed lost and given up for dead, her family was in a shambles. Nothing suggested she could be alive, much less traceable. The disappearance had taken a heavy toll on the family, leaving it totally desolate. By no stretch of imagination was redemption thought possible. The children had resigned themselves to the “awful will of fate”.
But on Thursday, 8 March, 2018, the day of the International Women’s Day, Mrs. Rose Anene, 62, emerged among the inmates healed of varied ailments at the Nteje Mental Home, Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State. Her long years of mental challenge and split-personality disorder, which saw her journey aimlessly for years until admitted a patient at the Home, established by the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ), a non-governmental organization of the wife of the state Governor, Her Excellency, Chief Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano, had been cured. While reuniting her with the family she left 35 years earlier – when unable to withstand bouts of depression, arising from the mental challenge – Chief Mrs. Obiano expressed happiness at the development and assured that CAFE was committed to restoring the fabric of the family as well as the society. “By treating and reuniting estranged member of a family we stop the incidence of trauma and ambivalent relationship between them and restore the fabric of the family, and by extension, that of the larger society”.
The case of Mrs. Anene was one of the many which the First Lady through CAFÉ had handled since assumption of office. The treatment and reunion was in fact a tiny drop in CAFÉ’s ocean of numerous charitable works. Acts of charity holds special attraction for the First Lady and predates her office. Those who know her before now insist that what CAFÉ does in the State is an extension of Chief Mrs. Obiano’s life of charity. They were quick to add that working to restore the fabric of families and the society is to Mrs. Obiano a labour of love. That may explain perhaps why in less than two months in office she made a number of visits to Sick Homes and Special Schools, among them Basden School of the Blind at Isulo in Orumba South Local Government Area of the State. She vehemently declined the advice to wait up to six months in office before undertaking any visit. She was not convinced and felt that six months was a lot of time before touching base with those out of favour with life. In less than two months she had visited enough to prepare her for the responsibilities CAFÉ has borne to date.
In the same manner she declined the advice she was to defy a number of challenges that threatened her course. Not once was it reported that a visit to one of the target audience in the riverine area of the Anambra West Local Government Area of the State was threatened by lack of access road. In a split second, she alighted from her vehicle, flagged down a motorcyclist (Okada) and mounted it. Surprised, but without the power to alter her decision, the aides followed suit. It is fairly reasonable to argue that any person not as passionately involved would baulk, and possibly discontinue the visit. But the First Lady has greater persuasion.
The beautiful aspect of her work is that it is not perfunctorily done, and as such could not be put at risk easily. Not even the funding of the project which is sourced outside of the government could impede the success of it. The level of passion that goes into the work is so infectious that many good spirited individuals support it. To that extent she has been muted in conversation as being of the same persuasion as Mother Theresa, the Catholic Nun of the Albanian-Indian stock. Though their works may differ in scope, but they are not altogether incomparable. Like the Missionaries of Charity established by the revered Catholic Nun that provided medication, dressings and food to the Leprosy Outreach in Calcutta, the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative of Chief Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano has done no less. The 77- bed facility at the Nteje Mental Home has treated and rehabilitated well over sixty-two inmates from such States like Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Edo, Oyo etc within its short time of existence.
Touching the lives of those on the wrong side of life like waifs, disabled persons, indigent widows and those in need of skill acquisition has set CAFÉ apart as distinct. In skill acquisition alone, over three thousand two hundred women have been trained on various skills and promptly empowered. Over eleven houses have been built with modern facilities and handed over to that number of indigent widows across the three senatorial areas of the state. Twelve toilets and boreholes were also built in various markets in the state to ease the difficulty of the call of nature and to promote hygiene. More than that, free cleft lip surgeries for over forty five children had been undertaken by CAFÉ. Artificial body parts (prosthetics) are made available to paraplegics and others in need of them. The icing on the cake is that beneficiaries of these works of charity have the ears of the First Lady and are invited on occasion to wind down with her. At other times she could visit them to assure them of care and attention.
Admittedly, no time in the history of the state was charity work taken to the level where it is now under the government of Chief Willie Obiano. For the first time people with disability were appointed to positions. They were made to have a sense of belonging in the Anambra project. Today there is a Permanent Secretary, a Director in the State Civil Service as well as other political appointees, including a Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Disability Matters. Perhaps that explained why a good number of them exerted themselves to ensure that the government of Chief Obiano, which they fondly call ogugua ndi olusi (comforter of people with disabilities), secured re-election in the November 18, 2017 governorship election in the state.