Amaka: A passion to help the poor, lift women out of poverty
Amaka Nwokeocha is no doubt a woman with the heart of gold. Her smile is wide and she has a calming presence. She comes across as a true and loving mother, who cares for everybody she meets.
She is married to Engineer Ifeanyi Nwokeocha and their marriage is blessed with two children. Amaka, who read mass communication at the Institute of Management Technology (IMT), Enugu in 2002, had her post-graduate diploma programme at the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti.
After a brief stint in the private sector, where she was gainfully employed, her passion for serving the poor and lifting women out of poverty led to her resignation from paid employment to enable her fully pursue the dream.
“I was working, but at a point, I had to resign because I knew that wasn’t where I was supposed to be,” she recalled. “I had always had this passion for helping the poor. I can’t stand seeing anyone in need, and even if I don’t have, I must find a way of helping such a person. Whether sick or hungry, I must find a way to help, which gives me joy and fulfilment.”
So, following her passion, Amaka established Mary Starseed Development Global Foundation, a non-governmental Organisation in 2015 to provide support for the poor and needy in the society. The vision is to provide solutions that can lift many people out of poverty.
She said: “Apart from my passion to help the needy, I was also inspired and influenced by my mother, who also loves to help the needy. And because this is my passion, I am working very hard to see it succeed.
“Mary Starseed Development Global Foundation aims at identifying and constructively taking care of strategised solutions that can empower poor people and give them the vision and capacity to lift themselves out of poverty, as well as gain good health and live better. We don’t want to see people hungry. Our goal is to help the vulnerable in the society, especially women and children.”
The foundation, which generates its funding online, as well as assistance from individuals and organistions, is designed to work globally for a profound change that tackles the effects of poverty, and provide free community healthcare outreach for the poor and marginalised people, particularly women and children, empowerment on skills and acquisition, entrepreneur training programme for women, financial empowerment for youths/unemployed, humanitarian services and insurance policy scheme.
The concept of health insurance scheme was born out of the need to protect, considering the fact that most women in rural areas cannot afford treatment of chronic illnesses.
So, how does she juggle family and her career?
Though she has to navigate the thorny professional path, but Amaka also believes in the traditional values that place a great emphasis on the role of women as mothers and caregivers.
However, she is quick to point out that she wouldn’t have gotten to her present position without the support of her husband.
“I have a loving and understanding husband,” she said. “He is the one helping me out at the home-front whenever I am not around. And without his support, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I am doing. He is also a generous giver and is always by my side. I don’t have a housemaid, but with the help of my husband, we ensure that the home front runs smoothly. My children go to school and have after-school lesson. I pick them up when they are through.”
On what she intends to achieve through the foundation, Amaka said: “There are so many programmes we have designed for the organisation. These include the Skills and acquisition programme through which we intend to train and empower women with skills that would help them start small-scale businesses. We also give them little funding to enable them start off.
“There are several benefits people can get from us. We have a wealth creation scheme for unemployed youths. When they partner with us and become our members, they enjoy such benefits as life insurance and health insurance scheme. So many people in our society die because they can afford required drugs.
“In order to curb this, and since we cannot get to everyone through our community outreach, we are now using a networking model. On our channel, we have a website, where anybody that has heard about us from any part of the country can log unto and register, and become a partner in order to start getting all the benefits. We include the health insurance scheme, so that any of our partners, who is sick, can just go to the hospital with that and be covered.
“We want to see women creating wealth for themselves in different areas of business, as well as be able to employ others. We are interested in both human and capital development of women. As we help people to create wealth, we also contribute to national development, by ensuring that the people we have empowered through our organisation also pay their taxes. As a non-governmental organisation, we don’t pay tax. But we want to ensure that the people we have trained, and who are already doing something, give back to the society by paying their taxes.”
She would want government to consider giving grants to NGOs, since they are the ones that can get down to the grassroots.