Honours Nnabuife, others for service to humanity
VIRTUOUS Widows Association, an international association of widows, Tuesday, joined other widows across the world to mark the International Widows Day for year 2020.
The event which took place at the premises of the Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation (ANPC), in Awka, the Anambra State Capital, drew the participation of widows from various parts of State and some top government functionaries.
Speaking at the event, wife of the Executive Governor of Anambra State, Chief Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano, extolled the widows and the association for not only identifying with the international day, but also celebrating it in grand style.
Mrs Obiano, represented at the event by Mrs. Michelle Onugbolu, disclosed that widowhood was never any widows’ choice but the condition they find themselves in; and therefore charged the widows to always put their trust in God in every situation.
Being herself a philanthropist and founder of the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ), she reassured that her office will always be open to widows and the downtrodden in the society.
She said, “Widowhood is the same worldwide. It is not something anybody can wish or ask for. The situation is usually worse for young widows because of the traumatic times they pass through.
“CAFE has built houses for over 27 widows and empowered over 21,000 widows in Anambra State through various skills acquisition trainings. So, we have your interest at heart at all times, and we are always there for you.”
She therefore encouraged the widows to always take part in all activities of the association, to learn skills (especially the digital and other trending skills); and to always ask questions in the areas they know nothing about, to avoid being eluded.
While advising them to always cooperate together, and be health conscious, especially in this period of coronavirus pandemic; the Anambra First Lady also called on well-to-do individuals to assist and join the government in promoting good livelihood of the widows, praying God to always strengthen and care for them and their families.
On her own part, the State Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs, Lady Ndidi Mezue described virtuous widows as precious people in society who God always hears and intervenes in their affairs.
Commissioner Mezue, who was represented by a director in the ministry, Mrs. Hope Ekesiobi, noted that it was not easy to be a widow owing to certain things widows are subjected to in the Nigerian society.
She extolled the association for always putting smiles on the faces of the widows through the various activities and events it has been hosting from time to time.
Lady Mezue also reminded the widows that her ministry and Anambra State Government are always solidly behind them at all times, urging them to always reach out to the ministry whenever the need arises.
Delivering the Widows’ Day lecture at during the occasion, the Guest Speaker, Sir Chuka Nnabuife who is the MD and CEO, Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation and Editor-in-Chief of National Light group of newspapers, described a widow as a woman whose husband is late, or a woman who has no husband but has children and the responsibility to cater for her home, as her children look up to her for provision.
With some Biblical passages, he encouraged the widows never to venture into anything unrighteous because of the condition they find themselves, advising them to rather depend on God and put their trust in Him.
His word, “A widow is in a very difficult situation but God knows, cares for and grants quick answers to the prayers of every righteous and virtuous widow who has faith and put her trust in Him.
“Bible also says in 1st Timothy 5:5 that she who is a real widow and is entirely left alone and desolate, trusts in God and continues in prayers and supplications night and day. She keeps her faith in God and sustains herself with prayers. With this, you can agree with me that widowhood is not the end of life. So I encourage you to keep faith in God.”
Earlier in her address of welcome, the founder, Virtuous Widows Association, Mrs Ifeyinwa Egbosiuba noted that the association is a non-governmental organisation that was founded eight years ago, with a focus on enriching the lives of widows and their children in society.
She appreciated the Anambra State Government for the concern it has shown in the affairs of widows especially through the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, and also highlighted some of the association’s landmark achievements for the past eight years of its existence, especially in the aspects of empowerment, skill acquisition, training and improved standard of living.
While revealing that many of the businesses of the widows especially the artisans are mostly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, she pleaded the government to continue to be their backbone in their various aspects of need, as the pandemic is indeed an unfortunate experience that has truncated their normal ways of life and threw them into an untold hardship, especially here in Africa due to the forced lockdown.
She said, “We and our families are still challenged by this pandemic. I am therefore urgently calling on the government to use this day to remember and support this group of women who toil day and night to survive, and I pray that God will richly bless you all as you heed to this clarion call.
“Our prayer as we celebrate this year’s International Widows Day is to see more advocacies and collaborations with the government, to give us a new lease of life through empowerment and budgetary allocation to the upliftment of the widows and their families.”
In her own address, the Program Manager of the Virtuous Widows Association and National Coordinator of South East Journalist Forum, Mrs. Chinyere Nwadike solicited the support of Anambra State Government, ministries, departments, agencies and individuals in making life better for widows in Anambra State and Nigeria at large.
She disclosed that the association, which was founded in Lagos, which is also its National Headquarters, with 300 members, has now grown to 20, 000 members in the 36 states of the federation, with the objective of promoting widow’s rights through advocacy that seek to abolish all form of discrimination against widowhood.
She noted that the declaration of the International Widow’s celebration by United Nations in 2011 was hinged on drawing the attention and also addressing poverty and injustice faced by millions of widows and their dependants in many countries, as according to statistics, there are 258,000 widows worldwide, with a good number of them in Nigeria.
She highlighted some of the association’s yearly programmes to include empowerment, skills acquisition, entrepreneurship training, scholarship for widow’s children, sensitisation and enlightenment campaign, medical outreach, mentoring, legal services for widows inmate, widow farmers scheme, celebration of literacy day, breast cancer day and celebration of International Women’s Day, among others, even as she called for more support from the government, the private sector and other members of the public.
The event featured football match played by the widows between Chief Mrs Ebelechukwu Obiano Team and Sir Chuka Nnabuife Team; march-past, cultural dance and empowerment, during which some members of the association were empowered with bakery ovens, grinding machines and sewing machines, among other equipments.
The event also featured presentation of awards to some deserving personalities, during which the MD/CEO of Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation, Sir Chuka Nnabuife was honoured with an Award of Excellence, in community service among other awardees.
In their separate reactions, some of the widows who benefited from the empowerment package, including Mrs Ngozi Anamma of Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation (who was given an oven); and Mrs. Chinenye Ajaegbo (who was given a grinding machine) heartily appreciated the association for the surprise empowerment, and promised to make best use of the equipments in fending for themselves and their families.
Established since 2011, International Widows Day, which holds every 23rd June, is a United Nations ratified day of action to address the “poverty and injustice faced by millions of widows and their dependents in many countries.
The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights’.