Women in Development!!!

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Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, a day where women are recognized all over the world  for their achievements in ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic, political and other notable achievements . As an advocate for vulnerable women and children in my community, I use this opportunity to call on women from every corner of life to appreciate their creation and creator.

This is a time for the women folk to thank God for their different destinies, this is also a moment to look within and appreciate the Heroines of the past and present.At this time, I remember great women like Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Mary Slessor, Mother Theresa , Mama Ekundayo , Chief Mrs Victoria Oni and of course many other women I consider as living heroes; Mrs. Adedoyin of Heart of Gold Hospice and Pastor Mrs. Adamolekun of Jesus Kids. These two women in particular has dedicated their time and lives to “left to die children” I remember Hilary Clinton , Michelle Obama and quite a number of other notable women making indelible changes in various ways.

Their contributions in many ways have made various positive changes in the lives of women and children today. Gender is not a barrier; women are born with potentials, talents, and capacities and virtues to excel in various fields and endeavors.The world of the female gender is not limited, we should be able to explore our world and be a star whenever we find ourselves, be it in Science, Arts , Technology, Medicine, Creative Arts and other disciplines.

As women, we should disregard and discourage phrases like “women are the enemies of themselves” rather we should be co -laborers  with one another and of course work with the men to make the world a better place , we should reach out for the best in our fields and careers to enhance others positively.

No woman is a mistake but we are God’s special breed wonderfully and beautifully created. Today I say arise and shine, Daughters of Zion, no limitations, no setback, no boundaries. Whenever we find ourselves, we should say NO to oppression of any type and encourage women empowerment at all levels.

Women should be progressives at all levels, saying No to #Childabuse #Peadophiles #ENDFGM #SayNODomesticviolence #SayNOEarlychildmarriage #SayNOFGM

 

Febisola 2017

Talking about Disability

In many parts of Africa, Nigeria inclusive, a lot of myths, belief system and ideologies surround  people living with Disabilities. These have progressed into Stigma and Discrimination, making life difficult for people living with this condition.

These beliefs are mostly shrouded in fear, secrecy and ignorance to the detriment of the affected and family members. It has been noted that some parents withdraw their children from classes where there are special needs children, and their mates avoid them like plagues

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However it’s tougher for family members; parents, caregivers, friends of people in this category more so as the condition is not “society friendly” To me taking care of anyone with disability be it old or young is like caring for more than a dozen children, it needs patience ,time , expertise , care , funds and mostly love. It is interesting to know that in this century, some people still believe disability is contagious, a curse from some gods or enemies somewhere.

Many parents in ignorance result to desperate options to avoid the discrimination, some would send the child away to live with their parents or older relations, some keep them locked up indoors or find ways to put them away. Most times my heart goes to Caregivers of children people in this category because I know how tasking it is to take care of many children together.

I also imagine how difficult it is to combine taking care of special needs people with taking other roles. Once in a while apart from my daily routine of taking care and supporting vulnerable children, I find time and courage to volunteer at a special needs centre and I give kudos to staff and founder of this initiative.

As special as the needs of these children are, so are the need of their caregivers; Emotional, Physical, Financial, Spiritual and many more.

However ignorance plays a major role, awareness is key when it comes to giving support to this group. First it starts with the community; the Government, Religious, the Media, Schools and other Social Groups.

How many of us find time to discuss the issue of disability with our children, letting them know there are some groups of people that need care and support rather than sympathy. How much do we encourage our children to love and respect others with disabilities knowing that without this they remain ignorant too.

I offered a neighbor a ride few years ago and explained to her that I want to make a stop to buy some items, I stopped in front of my customer who apparently is disabled, just as I was getting down from the car, my neighbor said “Aunty, can’t you see that woman is disabled? Don’t t buy anything from such people, they bring bad luck”. I was not only shocked but sad at her remarks. If some people still see disability as evil, demonic and a plague to avoid. How do we get people with special needs integrated and self reliant?

I use this opportunity to commend and give kudos to Mrs. Laja Adedoyin, Founder Heart of Gold Hospice Lagos and Pastor Mrs Yeside Adamolekun of Jesus Kids Ibadan. May Heaven reward your labor of love now and forever.

Again awareness is key, people living with disability need communal support.

 

 

Talking about Disability

 

 

In many parts of Africa, Nigeria inclusive, a lot of myths, belief system and ideologies surround  people living with Disabilities. These have progressed into Stigma and Discrimination, making life difficult for people living with this condition.

These beliefs are mostly shrouded in fear, secrecy and ignorance to the detriment of the affected and family members. It has been noted that some parents withdraw their children from classes where there are special needs children, and their mates avoid them like plagues

.medical-rehabilitationphysio_history

However it’s tougher for family members; parents, caregivers, friends of people in this category more so as the condition is not “society friendly” To me taking care of anyone with disability be it old or young is like caring for more than a dozen children, it needs patience ,time , expertise , care , funds and mostly love. It is interesting to know that in this century, some people still believe disability is contagious, a curse from some gods or enemies somewhere.

Many parents in ignorance result to desperate options to avoid the discrimination, some would send the child away to live with their parents or older relations, some keep them locked up indoors or find ways to put them away. Most times my heart goes to Caregivers of children people in this category because I know how tasking it is to take care of many children together.

I also imagine how difficult it is to combine taking care of special needs people with taking other roles. Once in a while apart from my daily routine of taking care and supporting vulnerable children, I find time and courage to volunteer at a special needs centre and I give kudos to staff and founder of this initiative.

As special as the needs of these children are, so are the need of their caregivers; Emotional, Physical, Financial, Spiritual and many more.

However ignorance plays a major role, awareness is key when it comes to giving support to this group. First it starts with the community; the Government, Religious, the Media, Schools and other Social Groups.

How many of us find time to discuss the issue of disability with our children, letting them know there are some groups of people that need care and support rather than sympathy. How much do we encourage our children to love and respect others with disabilities knowing that without this they remain ignorant too.

I offered a neighbor a ride few years ago and explained to her that I want to make a stop to buy some items, I stopped in front of my customer who apparently is disabled, just as I was getting down from the car, my neighbor said “Aunty, can’t you see that woman is disabled? Don’t t buy anything from such people, they bring bad luck”. I was not only shocked but sad at her remarks. If some people still see disability as evil, demonic and a plague to avoid. How do we get people with special needs integrated and self reliant?

I use this opportunity to commend and give kudos to Mrs. Laja Adedoyin, Founder Heart of Gold Hospice Lagos and Pastor Mrs Yeside Adamolekun of Jesus Kids Ibadan. May Heaven reward your labor of love now and forever.

Again awareness is key, people living with disability need communal support.

 

 

NO TO CHILD ABUSE!!!

 

Permit me to describe this situation in its simplest form; child abuse, child labour in ignorance!!! A popular saying goes thus “Ignorance is a great disease”. Few days ago, Tabitha Home kept custody of a 13 year old girl in collaboration with the Nigerian Police.

The girl, from one of the remote parts of Oyo State and her five other siblings have never seen the walls of a classroom. She has been working as house help since she turned 11. On Monday, her boss beat her blue black with marks all over her. Her offence: (she stole food when she was hungry).

A neighbour who had witnessed this many times reported to the police. While investigations continue, she was brought to us for protection and care. Within few hours of her stay, she got used to the environment and children activities in the home. Her countenance changed — she became a happy girl.

A day after she came, we were invited by the police because her mum has been found. I became very interested in this case.

Her mum appeared very young like 28 years old; she must have started having children in her teens. Seeing her daughter, I felt she would be happy with her and angry with the boss (culprit) who left her daughter with those mean marks,instead she greeted her daughter like nothing happened, no affection, no endearment, she appeared clueless and plain; a situation I know as ignorance, low self-esteem and low intelligence and emotional quotient. Apparently the mother was not interested in her wellbeing but more interested in the “salary” she gets from her being used as house help. She only asked her ——how is work?IMG_1583.JPG

In my anger and shock, I asked why she did not send her daughter to school. She replied that she and her husband are farmers. The police officer in charge encouraged her to keep her daughter in Tabitha to allow her go to school and the girl kept saying “I want to go to with this mummy (that is me), I want to go to school”. The woman at this point started pleading with us for her daughter to follow her and then come back for her education. Though I took this with a pinch of salt, her mum’s request was granted by the police.

This 13 year old girl spent a day in our care but somehow l kept thinking of her till now. I’ve been asking myself many questions; What does the future hold for her? Will she ever go to school? Will she be sent back to work as a house help? And many others.

Many people especially women are still living in this kind of situation; no self-worth, esteem, dignity, pride nor care for important things. I found it unbelievable that any child would be denied access to elementary education in this century.

Even as peasant farmers, I expect any parent to be able to at least send their children to school; the only expense anywhere in Nigeria where primary Education is free, are for school uniform and exercise books.

I believe that if any of these types is educated, it could bring liberation and light to the family.

Knowledge is power! I’m throwing this back to all of us; the media, the religious, schools, and civil society. No to child abuse of any form or kind.

Febisola Okonkwo

October 2016

Many Faces of Love

The word love has been overused from time immemorial, starting from the days of the earlier gods of love Antheia and Aphrodite to contemporary times. As much as love has become a cliché which is many times confused for lust, kindness, goodwill and other virtues, I stand for the Biblical definition of love, which says Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.IMG_9884.JPG

This is not only a definition of love but an encompassing one. The more reason the Bible describe love in marriage relationship as complete by commanding the man to love the wife as Christ love the Church to the point of giving his life. Awesome! The wife to submit to the husband as unto the Lord.

In both analysis, I believe God wants complete commitment; tolerance, sincerity, communion from husband and wife. Love in essence is not only for man and woman relationship but a virtue expected by God from all of us as Christians.

One of my friends described kid’s love as the best and the purest. It is innocent, non-expensive and straight from the heart.IMG_9884.JPG

Two weeks ago, one of the children at our centre Tabitha Home, came in as custom to say hello to me after school, he then gave me a hug and said “Mummy Tabitha, this gift is for you, I want you to know that I love and appreciate you”.  For a few seconds, I was speechless; I quickly returned his hug, thanked him and assured him I love him too.

The beauty of the gift; pure, natural and straight from the heart. Few hours later I asked him where he got the flower from, he told me he got it from his school compound, cut it and wrapped it carefully with a paper which according to him he cut from his jotter.

The moral of the story, even though this gift did not cost my boy any money, it cost him his heart and his time. He also made effort to carefully wrap it beautifully before presenting it to me.

My take, whichever face love comes with; it must be pure, decent, sincere and true. I agree also that if you love someone you do a lot to please that person which could be material and non-material things as much as you can afford. Whichever way it comes, true love is expensive but priceless.

Febisola Okonkwo

2016.

A Stand against Child Marriage

I saw this image yesterday and since then it has continued to haunt me. We do not need anyone to interpret to us that the young girl in the picture is being forced against her wish into early marriage.

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This action is not only barbaric, criminal, dangerous, wicked but harmful to these young girls. I don’t think anyone should think twice before knowing that exposing young girls to sex and responsibilities of marriage at tender ages is detrimental to their health, social, psychological, educational and mental lives.

How do you explain a situation whereby a ten to twelve year old child is been given out in Marriage? Am sure we all know there are many dangers attached to this, both physical and psychological.

I have worked actively with children in the last fifteen years and found out they are more emotional than we adults think. Most of them are particular about what happens to them and around them; they are interested in what happens to their parents, family and friends. They enjoy and grow better in a sane and conducive environment.

I still find it unbelievable and unimaginable that young girls is been giving out in Marriage at such tender ages of 10, 12, 13 when they are suppose to be in school under the supervision of their caregivers…..I mean it’s scary!!!

So much has been said about this before especially in the last twenty four hours, but then this is still a call to every one of us; Civil Society, NGO’s, Churches, Mass Media, Communities, Mosques, Schools and everyone to discourage this inhuman act. We should all rise against it.

I pray in God’s name that we take heed to love ourselves and our future by responding to this urgent call.

Thank you

Febisola Okonkwo

October 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Vicky!

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Meet Umahi Uju Victoria, a French/German graduate of University of Nigeria Nsukka, she came over to Help Initiative/Tabitha Home as a volunteer and subsequently became an in house staff of Tabitha Home.

In the last two years, I found Vicky to be committed, passionate, hardworking, formidable and interested in charity/humanitarian work, especially support for vulnerable children.

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Within a short space of time, she proved to be a model for Tabitha Home children; assisting them with Homework, Kid’s Club, mentoring and capacity building events. She also helped in providing other residential care and support for the children.

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Vicky with her innovations brought out the best in the children, every Friday evening at Kid’s Club, she portrays different genres of literary activities in Creative arts, Drama, Songs, Debate, Cultural arts and so on to stir the children’s intelligence.

With support from the children, she composed the Tabitha Home Anthem, a song that serves as a bond and a unifying strength of God in the family.

To me, Vicky is many things rolled into one; my daughter, mentee, friend, French and dance teacher, literary enthusiast and so on, she calls me 21st century mum and I call her Aduke, a name given to her by one of our partners.

In few days, Vicky will be moving on from Tabitha Home to pursue her French career. On behalf of Help Initiative/Tabitha Home, we wish her all the very best. May the Lord bless and keep you always. We love you!