By Oswald Agwu.
A faith-based nongovernmental organization, Family Reformation and Community Development Initiative has brought succour to about 1000 widows in Ebonyi State.
The widows who were hosted to the annual banquet of the Organization smiled home with several gifts ranging from clothes, food items and cash.
The banquet was held Saturday at the premises of the Nigeria Reformed Church, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital.
Speaking at the event, Reverend Joseph Nwibo, the Executive Director of the Organization, encouraged all widows, Orphans and the vulnerable in society never to despair, but anchor their faith in God’s providence.
Nwibo, also the Minister-in-charge of the Nigeria Reformed Church, Abakaliki, said he was inspired to undertake humanitarian services as a result of his unpalatable childhood experiences and deprivations, adding that he dropped schooling at primary 5 before God’s intervention lifted him to his present day status.
Nwibo explained: “I caught the vision by God’s intervention, relating to my own childhood experiences.
“I was born into a poverty-stricken family, and my father couldn’t even finish training me in primary school.
“I dropped out in primary 5.
“From then I have experienced the hand of God such that today I am a PhD student, and it all happened by the grace of God.
“In 2003, God showed me that he has given me the grace to help people who are like me, especially the abandoned children, the widows, the orphans and other vulnerable group.
“We registered the Organization with the Ministry of Women Affairs in 2003, and later with the Corporate Affairs Commission in 2009.
“Today, we have over 1000 widows we are helping, especially in 5 communities and 4 Local government areas of the State: Abakaliki, Ebonyi, Izzi and Ikwo
“What we do is that we organize these widows into groups; we teach them skills, empower them with start-up money and interest-free loans with which they can trade on local goods
“With that we have empowered many of them to take care of their children.
“Apart from that, we take care of the orphans by sponsoring the grown up ones in vocational training centres of their choice.
“Over few years, we have trained over 300 youths while we are having 10 currently undergoing trainings.
“We have also, about 150 children we are sponsoring in secondary schools.
“We equally have scholarship schemes for widow’s children and other indigents in the university.
“But most importantly, we try to restore the hope of the widows by pulling them to Christ who is the father of hope.”
Okechukwu Nwogha, the organization’s Programe Director, added that apart from caring for the widows and orphans, the nongovernmental organisation also works in areas of climate change, environment, sustainable health and governance.
He further explained that in addition to the widows, over 50 ministers and evangelists of the Nigeria Reformed Church, with their spouses benefitted from the distributed gifts and other largesse of the day.
Some of the beneficiary widows, including Maria Nwovu, Charity Kums and Mary Awuna, who spoke to our correspondent applauded the Organization for the gesture.
They noted that the NGO has been extending such benevolence to them and their children every year from its inception.
They prayed God to bless Rev. Nwibo, his wife and all workers in the organisation.
Awuna added: “I have benefitted much from this organization.
“For my son that is in the university, this is the third year I have been receiving school fees for him and for even those in secondary school.
“Even me as a widow, this is not the first time I have received gifts from this people: food, wrapper and money, among other things.
“They do even give us money for treatment when we are sick, and many other helps I can’t enumerate.”
In a brief exhortation, Rev. Chukwuma Offor, a minister in the Nigeria Reformed Church admonished Christians and all privileged members of society to always show concern towards the wellbeing of widows, orphans and other vulnerables.
Reading from the Bible, James 1: 27, he emphasized that a Pure and undefiled religion is demonstrable in caring for the widows and orphans.
The widows were taught basic healthcare tips as well as types, symptoms and prevention of hepatitis as a deadly health challenge.
The event also featured praise and worship songs, dances and prayers for widows all over the world.