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‘Nigerians morally-bound to aid widows, orphans,’ says Ambode at RoSF 10th anniversary


Matron, Rose of Sharon Foundation (RoSF), Mrs Bolanle Ambode (third right), Founder RoSF, Mrs Folorunsho Alakija (third left) with some guests at the RoSF 10th anniversary in Lagos

Worried by the sad reality of a growing army of widows amidst increasing violence and death in different parts of the country, Wife of the Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Bolanle Ambode, has urged Nigerians to rise to the challenge and bring succour to widows and orphans in the nation.Specifically, Nigeria now has an estimated eight million disadvantaged widows living in the country with over 21 million children, some in extreme poverty.

Ambode made the call recently at the 10th anniversary celebration of the Rose of Sharon Foundation in Lagos, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to the alleviation of the plights of widows and orphans.Ambode, who is the matron of the foundation, stressed that the thought of the challenges these individuals face impose the moral duty on the conscience of the people to take steps to positively affect the lives of children and women in widowhood.

She said: “ Human success in life should not be measured by how much we enjoyed life while we live, but by how much joy we brought to others, especially the vulnerable ones like widows and orphans”.Noting that the condition of a widow or an orphan is one that no one wishes for, she said that the average Nigerian widow often faces a huge burden and challenges which she cannot handle alone without assistance from somewhere.

She, however, commended the foundation saying that, through them, tears had been wiped, lives transformed, women empowered and children put on a solid academic footing to live great lives.She urged the women to keep their hope alive notwithstanding challenges, saying that the hope must be reinforced with economic empowerment.She appealed to them to get a skill in line with their passion pointing out that this way, they could generate regular income.

Revealing that the Lagos State government has about 17 skills acquisition centres located across the state, offering a whole range of skills, Ambode urged them to enroll at any of the centres closest to them.She stated that self-reliance would give them hope in the present circumstances by ensuring a stable means of income to meet their needs and their children.

Earlier, Founder of the ROSF, Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija, expressed gratitude to God for their achievements, saying a journey that started with just three widows in May, 2008 has grown to empower over 3, 000 widows through vocational skills acquisition. “We have also given over 1, 000 widows interest-free loans and awarded scholarships to 1, 366 widows’ children and 86 orphans to take them through to university”, she said.

Alakija also said they have provided funding for either business or housing for 82 widows who were in dire need as a result of extreme situations they found themselves. Expressing happiness that the programme has helped to alleviate poverty and reduce crime in the society, the founder said they have recorded amazing stories from widows and orphans whose lives were touched. She said many of the beneficiaries are now entrepreneurs who have also empowered others and could now hold their heads high in the society.

Reflecting on the beginning of the foundation, Alakija said until she received Divine inspiration to start it, her philanthropic efforts were just disjointed and without focus.She expressed the hope to continue in this direction in the future and wished more Nigerians would help in providing other services to these individuals in the society.

Alakija further disclosed that their projection for this year is to empower 350 more widows and orphans and build a skill acquisition centre and a hostel, adding that they also planned to have offices in the remaining five geographical zones of the country.Speaking on opportunities available for widows to tap into, the guest speaker, Mr. Shedrack Madlion, said Nigeria is a fertile ground where industry thrives and efforts result in great harvest.He observed that what Nigerians lack is information that they could use to change their situation.

He gave entrepreneurship tips to the widows and guests and opened their minds to the numerous opportunities that abound in agriculture, animal husbandry across the country.To mark the occasion, 100 widows were given pasta-making machines while an additional 100 others were added to the platform and given financial grant to start their businesses.At the event, several widows and orphans testified to how the foundation has touched their lives, empowered them and put smiles on their faces.Free medical check-up and drugs were also provided for the benefit of the widows.

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