Bawaallah installed IWS 61st president, solicits giving spirit
In a lavish, well-attended event, Abimbola Ademola Bawaallah was installed as the 61st president of the International Women’s Society (IWS) this week. Revealing the theme of the year as IWS: Beyond 60. A new beginning waxing stronger, during her acceptance speech, she vowed to return the society to its original ideals and re-establish it as a charitable society of diverse culture embracing all nationalities.
The wife of the Lagos State governor, Bolanle Ambode, represented by Jumoke Benson, promised to work with the society to effect positive change in the society, especially for women.
Speaking with The Guardian, the Vice-President of IWS, Nkoli Ogbolu, said the society is now over 60 years and boasts both local and expatriate women. “The society is in its seventh decade now with six charities that we are very proud of. We all know sustaining anything in Nigeria is no joke and to successfully sustain a society with six charities for more than 60 years is highly commendable. “The first charity was established in 1961, the Day Nursery in Yaba. The second one was established in 1967, the LUTH Library trolley, where we give reading materials to patients like Bibles, Qurans and so on. We then established the Widow’s Trust Fund for indigent widows and the skills centre in Lekki for the acquisition of vocational skills. We also have the home for abandoned children in Ijebu-Ode. Anytime we have a function, we always try to promote these charities so that people can recognize and give of their time, talent and treasure to the less privileged in the society.”
Ademola-Bawaallah described the IWS as a non-governmental charity organization, specifically created to eradicate poverty in the society especially within women and the youth. “For widows, we empower them, ensure they have enough so they don’t depend on others. Several widows that were empowered by us are now financially independent and are educating their kids themselves. For youths that cannot afford university education or are not interested in university education but in learning a trade, we put them in vocational schools to acquire skills. They do several exams to encourage credibility and ability to get jobs easily after the training.”
“Our Ijebu-Ode home for abandoned babies now boasts of children in schools and this makes us very happy. These children had no one to take care of them, but with us, there is hope for them now. We have caregivers that live with them, take them to school and care for them well; this fills us with pride and joy. We also award scholarships to indigent, intelligent students in nursery school whose parents cannot afford to send them to school. We identify such children and award them scholarships up to university level. We have sponsored blind students at the university as well, there is no discrimination.”
“IWS goes to LUTH weekly for ward rounds, we pull a trolley round, supply terminally ill patients with literature, try to make them happy despite their condition. For those that cannot afford to foot their bills, we help them with such. We buy and donate medical equipment to LUTH to assist with healthcare as well”
Talking about the IWS nursery that takes care of children while their mothers are at work, Bawa-Allah said this helps so many working mothers make a living comfortably which they might not have been able to do otherwise. “You feel fulfilled when you help those that really need it. You save people’s lives and you save a lot of people that might have taken to crime because they thought they didn’t have anyone to help them.”
Lamenting donor fatigue amongst members as the society has experienced a dearth of foreign aid, Bawaallah says she aims to bring back donors during her tenure. “In the past, we used to have expatriates and multinationals amongst us and they pumped in money but now, people are no longer donating. This year, we want to bring back foreign nationals. IWS is serious business; we have to be proactive in our thinking. This year, we would do more thinking as to how we can make this society more giving. We would bring in more people, people that know the importance of giving and generosity. We are doing good work but we want to make sure we do more good work than ever before. The event had in attendance past presidents of the society, eminent personalities, royal fathers and government representatives.
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