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Monday, September 25, 2023

NGO fetes Widows to mark Humanitarian Week: Urges Citizens to stop belittling Vulnerable people


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A Lagos based Non-Governmental Organization in Ifako- Ijaiye Local Government Area, Touch of Love lifting hands foundation, founded by Engr Atinuke Wuraola Owolabi, in commemoration of it’s 5th year and annual humanitarian week has hosted over 500 vulnerable widows at their Annual Humanitarian Week, while urging people to stop belittling vulnerable members of the society.

As a yearly tradition to celebrate with, and meet the needs of the aged, widows, vulnerable and physically challenged in the Ifako Ijaiye Local Government Area and its environs, the  event held at the Foundation’s office at Iju Ishaga, Ifako Ijaiye between 17th and 21st December 2022, was nothing but successful as it recorded it’s highest attendance and participation since its inception.

This year’s Humanitarian week  had series of activities outlined for the five days event with the theme, “Civic Responsibility and Good Governance: Exercising the Voting Rights of Widows and Aged to Ushering in a Better Society”. Some of the activities at this year’s event is worship, thanksgiving, free training and empowerment for widows and voter education on 2023 electoral process/community engagement and sensitization on PVC collection. Others are game contests for the elders, end of the year party, gifting of Christmas packages to the elders and widows as well as presentation of awards to individuals that have been supporting the Foundation since inception.

The Humanitarian Week is part of the Foundation’s yearly programme dedicated to adding value to the lives of both women and men along with their families during Christmas.

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In her address during the grand finale, the founder, Engr Dr Atinuke Wuraola Owolabi recalled the journey of the organisation from it simple desire to touch lives of the vulnerable in the society and what has been achieved. She explained the motivation behind the birth pf the Foundation and her passionate works to better the lives of widows, elders and vulnerable members of the society.

She vowed to continue to do more as much as her ability can go. She appreciated people that have shown support and that makes the yearly event possible by giving moral, financial and professional support. She mentioned a few of these people who are the Vice President of Dangote Industries Ltd Engr Chief Edwin V.G Devakumar who was represented at the event by Mr Fola Alli (General Manager, Human Resource), Pharmacist Paul Owolabi, Prince Usman Akanbi Hamzat amongst many others.

Having been an Electrical Engineer who  has worked at hinterlands during rural electrification projects, Owolabi, who is also APWEN Lagos Vice Chairman said was touched by the plight of people.

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Owolabi, who is the Managing Director of Wuricat Engineering Company, Lagos, noted that her NGO has trained widows on skills, empowered them financially, and followed them up to ensure they became self reliant. “Through these programmes, we have given them self confidence and a sense of belonging which gratifies our souls,” she emphasized.

She noted that her organization partners state government, Agencies and private organizations to execute it’s mandate and appreciated all the personalities involved for powering the event.

She lamented the situation where the society tend to tag the poor, weak, aged and vulnerable with various belittling names which are highly unpleasant and degrading. She noted that the privileged members of the society also tends to portray the unfortunate circumstances of the less privileged ones as self inflicted. She urged enlightened members of the public to change this narrative through constant engagement, sensitization and providing the right incentives such as financial empowerment and inclusion, social care, free healthcare and regular free food packages to the needy.

She called for more supports through goodwill of the well-to-do in the society, private organisations, philanthropists and the relevant departments and agencies of government to assist in providing more care, succor, healthcare from individuals and organizations to expand various  interventions  designed to support the less privileged and vulnerable in the society.

Owolabi-Agbaje, who is also active in politics used the opportunity to call on politicians and policy makers to include the welfare of the vulnerable in their programmes. She Said “This 5th annual humanitarian week is special in the sense that, it bestows the less privileged, the aged, vulnerable and widows in the society an opportunity to make their voices heard by speaking their truth to the government agencies, multinational companies and all stakeholders to do more for the less privileged in our society. Their lives has been severely subjected to poverty and misery even in the midst of plenty.”

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She advised the people to exercise their civic responsibility, collect their PVC if they have not done so and participate in forthcoming General election. She added that “A better society does not just come to fruition through wishes or inactions. It requires that all hands must be on deck to get involved in civic responsibilities of voting for credible people during elections and ensure that every votes matters and counts.”

We are therefore using our space for not just providing food and gifting items to the aged, widows and the vulnerable in the society but also educating them of their rights and privileges and to use their votes to turn their lives around from dependent people into independent, self sustaining members of the society.

A former vice chairman Ifako- Ijaiye Local Government, Hon. Tunde Balogun, who was also at the event said the event was a token of their encouragement to the widows.

Pharmacist Paul Owolabi, who is the husband of the founder advised the attendees on several ways to living and staying healthy especially in the post COVId-19 era.

Some of the aged thanked the well known pharmacist for his support and free consultation whenever they go to him for treatment,

Special awards will also be given to LIGHTHOUSE PHARMACY for continuous Pharmaceutical care rendered to the Community, Senior Citizens and Members of Touch of Love & Lifting hands Foundation and also to Engr (Chief) Devakumar V.G Edwin Vice President & Group Executive Director of the Holding Company, Dangote Industries Limited for continuous Financial and Humanitarian Supports to the vulnerable Aged and widows  and to Ifako-Ijaiye Local government for giving us an enabling environment to operate.

Beneficiaries went home with foodstuffs and cash gifts to celebrate the Christmas and New year.

Some of the beneficiaries who spoke to journalists, expressed joy over the gesture, and prayed to God to sustain the vision.

“They do it every year and it has added succour to us, and each time it happens, we are always overjoyed.”

She further advised her fellow widows not to lanquish in self pity, but to be strong and determined to overcome their challenges through industry and faith in God.

“Be diligent in your life endeavors for widowhood is not the end of life.” she added.

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