WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR NIGERIAN POOR WOMEN, AS WE CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY?

florence kekong
Posted March 18, 2018 from Nigeria

WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR NIGERIAN POOR WOMEN AS WE CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY -I SELL LOCUST BEANS TO EMPOWER POOR WOMEN

By FLORENCE KEKONG

On how I celebrated the International Women's Day with poor widows in the localities of Boki local government in Cross River State, I begin this piece with words of Legendary Bob Marley; " How can you be sitting there, telling me that you care..? ", when all around, we see the people suffering?

Back to you and I. All of us, living in Nigeria. Let us not join them to say that we care when in reality we say so for our stomach sake. Take a close look around you and start taking actions now. Pick up a poor woman. Widow, single mother, a battered house wife or house help, an abused girl, pregnant teenage girl, or just any woman you know that cannot fend for herself and family.

Alright! Let us go. Let us share ideas. Ideas like viruses are contagious. I am sharing ideas on women and girls empowerment with different groups-World Pulse, Grassroots Media Women, Tosin Turns Trash To Treasure Transformation Centre and synergizing empowerment efforts with people in the rural communities. 

My strategy is, one woman at a time. One girl at a time: I want you to join me but I wont wait for you, if you are not reading yet. Don't wait for anybody either, to join you, if you are kick-starting without delay. Others will join us when they see you getting it right. If you wait for people you may become like them- Talking Birds that cannot build their nests. Let your actions speak louder than words. We cannot go on living this way. We need to shift the paradigm from noisemaking to taking actions to help women and girls. I have started doing just that- one woman at a time. What about you? Well, I don't need an answer. I want to see you walk the streets, slums and impoverished communities, helping poor women and girls to live healthy lives. Helping menstruating girls stay back in school, knowing that menstruation can be managed hygienically with dignity.

I have begun my search and doing the Empowerment-Walk- helping one woman, at a time: One girl, at a time. I am not waiting for any government to do their own kind of empowerment. I don't understand their Empowerment style. If they do it in a positive manner that impacts positively on the lives of women and girls, I will synergize my empowerment efforts with theirs, by writing a good piece on that for the world to see that a good thing has been done for humanity.

 I am also, not  waiting for any Nigerian politician do empower the women and girls because I think it is their place to empower the people. No! their empowerment style is limited. They empower people according to their wards or local governments or State of origin. Of course, it is only possible for those who successfully get their names on their political lists to benefit from whatever plan they map out to excite and at a particular period. And your name may only be on their lists if you were seen running around them at the peak of the campaigns. Not only that, if you are still seen consistently hanging around them. And above all, if you can pay lip service and indulge in rumour mongering. Nigerian politicians dwell richly in gossips and rumours. So if you don't engage well in some of these acts, just count yourself out of their game.

I looked at all these and thought that while waiting for some probable sort of method to implement government policies ( that are largely dependent on the politicians as the case is today in Nigeria), for the empowerment of the underprivileged people, it is best to develop my own method  to show the best way to empower people and make a real difference.

People are not poor because they choose to be so or they are lazy. The circumstances and the socio-political system of the Nigerian society is keeping them so. So it right to reason that we need a structural change, beginning with the shift in mindset. The value of a person is to be measured not by what she/he possesses materially, but what she/ he is as a human being. Everyone has some talents and abilities that must been developed for them to realize the rights to fulfil their potentials without disadvantage. 

 No one should live in poverty.  That is why I am taking an Empowerment-Walk to empower the disadvantaged women in the rural communities. Empowerment of the disadvantaged women will significantly increase participation in the development cooperation/ progress. Thereby, ensuring peace and sustainable development.

To demonstrate my position that empowerment should be evenly distributed to the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, I took my Empowerment Walk to the rural communities of Esom Achue in Irruan, Boki local government area, where I celebrated this year's International Women's Day, with the theme, "Press For Progress". I celebrated it with a poor widow, Madam Martina Eja, amidst her  children and great grand children.

 I had taken a stand to start an empowerment program for the rural women. I shared this idea with a colleague and friend who is a highly respected  Global Citizen Journalist, Mrs. Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale. I explained to her that I was promoting protein-rich food and delicacies for empowered households. The goal is to reduce mortality and morbidity among mothers and children, by boosting nutrition in households, as well as raising the economic status of poor widows. I identified locust beans as being the most widely eaten in all homes of the central and northern people of Cross River State. I studied the nutritional properties of the locust beans and   I began to process it to become what the Hausas call, "Dawadawa", Igbos, "Ogiri" and  Yorubas, "Iru". The process is cumbersome but it is worth it. I sell the dawadawa and use the proceeds to empower poor women.  You see, ideas, like viruses, are truly contagious. People are patronizing the dawadawa business so much that I am encouraged. Tosin bought a huge bulk of it and donated it to the widow I identified. The two (Olutosin and the widow) have never met one-on-one  but something good has happened and it is a plus to humanity. Tosi's goodwill has given life to the women who said to me as we met her, " Life makes no meaning to me". Bit now she is smiling. Life makes so much meaning to her now, with Tosin and I, and lots of well meaning individuals to encourage her.  She lost  her first husband through food poision and the second in communal war between Irruan in Boki local government and Mbube in Ogoja local government of Cross River State. She had eight children. Only three serving now with great grand children. One of her grand daughters died after child birth, leaving the baby for her to nurse and cater for.

Madam Martina returned to her village after sojourning the other communities where she married. She said she didn't want to leave Katchuan Irruan, home of her second husband not when all her children started dying, she had no choice but to return to Esekwe, her father's home. She will sell her dawadawa ("Konnerre" as her Irruan people call it) and use the profits to feed her household. The fight for empowerment of the less privileged should not be left to politicians and the rich alone. All of us can empower those in need in our own little way. We should not synergize empowerment efforts, even if we are not waiting for others who are delaying in taking a stand to assist those truly in need because it is in much collaboration with individuals and organizations that we can achieve great and meaningful empowerment. Evidence is the World Pulse family, where sisters act as one, helping each other.

Comments 38

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nwando_2
Mar 19, 2018
Mar 19, 2018

This is quite an interesting and encouraging piece from Nigeria. Please keep up the good work. Our women and girls must be encouraged to believe in themselves, believe in what they can do to better their lives. I join hands with you.

florence kekong
Mar 20, 2018
Mar 20, 2018

Thank you dear. Together we can do better. God bless you richly.

Jill Langhus
Mar 19, 2018
Mar 19, 2018

Hi Florence. Thanks for sharing your sad but inspiring story about your empowerment walk and also your collaboration with Olutosin. I'm not surprised she was able to help women in your community. She is such a blessing, as are you, for helping all those women. I hope to hear more stories from you about how you are empowering and helping women in your community.

florence kekong
Mar 20, 2018
Mar 20, 2018

Thank you, dear JLanghus for your encouraging words. There is so much to be done in Boki. I will report on all I am doing, particularly, as I encourage more women to join me in the ongoing Empowerment Walk: One Woman at a time!I appreciate your support. Warm regards.

Jill Langhus
Mar 21, 2018
Mar 21, 2018

You're welcome:) I bet there is a lot to be done. I'm so glad you are there to do it and to help empower as many women as possible. Have a good day!

florence kekong
Mar 21, 2018
Mar 21, 2018

One Love, one heart! Let's get together and feel alright!
Thank you

Jill Langhus
Mar 21, 2018
Mar 21, 2018

Good one:) You're welcome...

Corine Milano
Mar 19, 2018
Mar 19, 2018

Wow - thanks for sharing this powerful piece! You are inspiring.

florence kekong
Mar 20, 2018
Mar 20, 2018

Thanks Corine. With the support of awesome sisters like you, women in the impoverished communities of Boki would equally be reached for enhanced livelihoods. Receive my appreciation.
Thanks and God bless, amen.

Hellen Kimanzi
Mar 19, 2018
Mar 19, 2018

Was late to read thiswonderful piece, it is so inspiring, thank you for sharing.

florence kekong
Mar 20, 2018
Mar 20, 2018

.y dear Helen, thanks for appreciating my works. Together, we can achieve the dream of a better life for all women. Remain blessed, amen.

Sally maforchi Mboumien
Mar 19, 2018
Mar 19, 2018

Hello my sister Florence thank you for doing empowerment and not talk empowerment in the live of that widow. Yes politics in Africa has taken away the sense of humanity and communal life but initiative like this can bridge the gap. I wish you the best and continue with the spirit of one at a time and before you know it all will be affected. looking forward to hearing more from you. courage changemaker.

florence kekong
Mar 20, 2018
Mar 20, 2018

Yes, you got it right, my dear Sally. Greed has taken away the happy times and communal life but God is using great sisters like you to change this for good. I am really encouraged by your supportive thoughts. God be with us all, amen. Thanks.

Olutosin
Mar 20, 2018
Mar 20, 2018

Well done my dearest sister. We can. Together we can do more.
Please sisters on World pulse, let us join hands with sister Florence to empower Boki women.

florence kekong
Mar 20, 2018
Mar 20, 2018

Ahaaaaa!!!! Here comes Sister Tosin, my Sunshine. My sister of inestimable value. Words alone cannot describe you bit for now, let me call you, "My Inspiration".
God bless you.

florence kekong
Mar 20, 2018
Mar 20, 2018

Thank you, World Pulse, for connecting me with such amazing and caring sisters. With them, I know that I have a family for real.
God bless you all, amen.

roses are red
Mar 20, 2018
Mar 20, 2018

Hi sister Florence,
Your story of making the efforts to bring about the change in the lives of the poor, unassisted women in Nigeria is remarkable. I appreciate the piece in particular about finding a nutritious wholesome meal for the locals in the form of Locust beans. I don't know much and I will certainly try to find out more about but what I know that Africa is the continent so richly blessed with the flora and the fauna, still people struggle to take care of the one square nutritious meal..you wrote about a poor widow who has been left to fend for her eight children all alone with no support for survival at all. This is also one area which needs immense immediate attention. Being a little responsible for the young ones we are bringing into this world. We cannot expect the governments to do the all needful when people fail to take the responsibility at the lowest level. Here is something very powerful and encouraging on which Sister Sally Mboumien is working through. Like you have written here about when the Sisters act as one, helping each other and impacting so many innocent lives positively in the process.
Many congratulations as you have found the way to help, you have found your true calling in the life.
My heart blesses you.

Sending love to you and the women you are working with ❤

Rachana

florence kekong
Mar 21, 2018
Mar 21, 2018

Dear Rachana,
Thank you so much for this motivational comments. They are very encouraging
You spoke like you have known me personally and for a very lon time. I have had this passion begging to be harnessed. Severally, I have ran into wrong hands when I thought I was working with people who had the acts of humanity at heart. They were fake. They only used me to score their selfish political goals bit I am wiser now. Working with them has its own advantages as well. I understand better how to go about the business of assisting people achieve the right to fulfil their potentials without disadvantage.
The urge to fulfil this burning desire led me to discovering World Pulse through the internet search engine. Today, I know that my search isn't in vain. I have met the right people with the same burning passion in the service to humanity.
I am going to throw all my weight on World Pulse so that the world may see that positive change that society can believe in, is possible through women committed to making a difference in the world.
Thank you, again and again.
Florence Kekong (Katchuan)

florence kekong
Mar 21, 2018
Mar 21, 2018

One Love keeps us together.

roses are red
Mar 27, 2018
Mar 27, 2018

Very true dear sister.. One love keeps us together. There will always be someone whenever you make an effort to connect. All the power and positivity be in your slogan : One woman at a time.

SIMON MUREU
Mar 21, 2018
Mar 21, 2018

This is a good move.I was thinking of the like in kenya this morning

florence kekong
Mar 21, 2018
Mar 21, 2018

Hello Simon,
Greetings. You know that you are on the right path when you discover some other person doing exactly what you are thinking of doing.
Don't give up. Just start from anywhere, bearing in mind that you have a sister in Nigeria, doing the same thing- like minds....
We would be working together, bringing experiences of our women to the global fore. Who knows, one day we may be able to bring them together to celebrate love and happiness?
Thank you
Florence Kekong (Katchuan)

Sister Zeph
Mar 21, 2018
Mar 21, 2018

My dear sister I really appreciate your efforts and your thoughts and that we should not wait for others to make a change but we should become a change bless you and keep growing we need more women like you in our world

florence kekong
Apr 24, 2018
Apr 24, 2018

Thank you, my sister Zeph. Love you. We should continue to Act-as-One.
Kind regards.

Tamarack Verrall
Mar 23, 2018
Mar 23, 2018

Dear Florence,
Interwoven in your beautiful story here is such wisdom and heart. I so agree, we are each capable of making real change happen, and paying attention specifically to poverty as a priority is critical. You have shown through your own priorities, and your determination to create change, that it works. "My strategy is, one woman at a time. One girl at a time: I want you to join me but I wont wait for you, if you are not reading yet". That you and Olutosin teamed up magnifies the power magnificently. Imagining the two of you giving love to Madam
Martina, so strong in surviving all she has lived through, is proof of what we need to and are capable of doing. Through WorldPulse I learn of acts of love and determination that have saved the lives of baby girls, teenaged girls, young single mothers...It is so good to know that you are meeting and supporting women who live rurally and who are widows. Too often forgotten! You inspire me.

With love in sisterhood,
Tam

florence kekong
Apr 24, 2018
Apr 24, 2018

My dearest sister, Tam. You said it all in one short sentence, " "With love in sisterhood". There could never be a better thing we can offer each other, other than true Love.
Thank you.

Nnenna Hannah okoh-Metu
Mar 24, 2018
Mar 24, 2018

Keep doing it one day at a time,thanks sister for reaching out.

florence kekong
Apr 24, 2018
Apr 24, 2018

Thanks, Nnenna Hannah. I am thrilled by your words of encouragement. Kind regards dear

sarah_2
Apr 07, 2018
Apr 07, 2018

Dear Florence,
This is an encouragement to me in particular.I'm in Jos,planning to start something.
God bless you

florence kekong
Apr 24, 2018
Apr 24, 2018

Dear Sarah, good to know that you are my sister in Jos. I schooled at Shendam- GGSS then. Jos is my home. Welcome to the World Pulse great family.

sarah_2
Apr 25, 2018
Apr 25, 2018

Wow......
Are you still in Jos??

sarah_2
Apr 25, 2018
Apr 25, 2018

Thanks

florence kekong
Apr 25, 2018
Apr 25, 2018

No, Sarah I am in Cross River State now. But you and I can can collaborate together to take education and empowerment to the doorsteps of rural women.
Worldwide Pulse has laid a solid foundation for us.
Call me or connect with me on WhatsApp-08063035004
Yo may wish to get across to me on Facebook- Florence Kekong
Thanks dear

sarah_2
Apr 25, 2018
Apr 25, 2018

Alright ma'am!
Thanks

Adeola Samuel
Apr 10, 2018
Apr 10, 2018

Keep up the good work sister. I celebrate you as you give hope and smiles to Madam Martina's life. The Lord bless and increase you.

florence kekong
Apr 24, 2018
Apr 24, 2018

My dear sister. I am replying late. I lost my phone to the rains and bad roads of my rural Boki. The phone damaged beyond use. I lost my World Pulse Login access. I have been trying for weeks to get back to no avail, until I said to myself today, let me try logging in with Facebook. And like magic, I found myself reading all I couldn't.
Thanks Love. God bless you

Adeola Samuel
May 03, 2018
May 03, 2018

Welcome back dear Florence, thank God you are doing OK.

Lily Habesha
May 18, 2018
May 18, 2018

Dear Florence,
We don't have to wait to anyone to help us empower a woman.
I like "One woman at a time and one girl at time".
that is how we all do. I help one at a time, but train four or five...if they have options to get materials to produce and join a market.
My friend AMele, helps one woman at a time...and after she get her hired, she will look for another woman to help.

For poor woman, we can give our hearts. Women have good heart, great ideas, talents to share, ideas to show the way out of poverty.

Thank you for the great work

Lily

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