MY EMPOWERMENT WALK BUILDS A NETWORK OF GRASSROOTS WOMEN JOURNALISTS, CREATES RIPPLE EFFECTS ACROSS THE NIGERIAN NATION

florence kekong
Posted May 13, 2018 from Nigeria
Esekwe Erue women preparing to leave the stream after washing the locust beans together. At akimbo is Mary, behind the women, while Madam Martina Ejah is carrying the plastic white bucket, in the midst of others
Esekwe Erue women preparing to leave the stream after washing the locust beans together. At akimbo is Mary, behind the women, while Madam Martina Ejah is carrying the plastic white bucket, in the midst of others (1/1)

PART 1

I have a dream. To ignite the interest of more individuals and groups to unite efforts in engaging rural women and girls, alongside community leaders and other stakeholders in a mass mobilization EMPOWERED WALK designed to take education, information, awareness creation and training on environmental protection, enterprise development, Healthy lifestyle and leadership and skills building, to the doorsteps of the rural people in the communities.

When I conceived the idea of one woman at-a- time/ One girl at- a time and the need to kick-start with the poorest widow on International Women's Day (IWD), last March 8th, I shared the concept with my Bossom friend, Cecilia Ofum and she grabbed it without hesitation. We immediately planned the trip that turned out to be successful, with Madam Martina Ejah, becoming the first Widow we began to empower. The project began well and it will end well, as indicators from our forward-looking strategies show.

Good ideas, like infectious diseases are contagious and spread like wildfire. This is exactly what is happening now in the parts of Nigeria my EMPOWERMENT WALK is creating ripple effects like a pebble thrown into a pool of water. I set out with the conviction that I would continue to walk on even if nobody joined me. I already know how the futuree looks like-success.

First, I got Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale, my Sister to spur me up. Then I had Cecilia Ofum and came Madam Martina Ejah, our beneficiary, who like the Biblica woman who encountered Jesus Christ, ran to the people of her community to give them the good news. Martina danced around the community, praising God for this rare occurrence she witnessed. As a result, her enthusiastic action won more people to take part in the WALK.

Interestingly, Our regional newspapers  published our works, as well as  excited Volunteer who saw the Facebook post in Abuja, printed and distributed  round the communities, to the amazement of all. 

Madam Martina's daughter, a young more of  27 years also mobilized her peers to get interested in the enhancement WALK. One young woman that captured my attention is Miss Mary Asi, a 23-year-old Mary Asi Akwagiobe who hails from Obudu, about 50 kilometers from Boki. Mary dropped out of school in her first year in the University of Calabar because she got pregnant and could not continue her studies

 Her father has refused to set his eyes on her, since then and has equally chased her mother also, from their home. He accused of of being responsible for their daughter getting pregnant before marriage. Out of frustration, Mary's mother went to live at a local church in another community because even her parents rejected her saying that she belongs to her husband who paid dowry on her head.. Life seems worst for her now as the Pastor of the church seems to have indoctrinated her with the belief that she has witches pursuing her. He seized all her expensive wrappers under the bait and rather, provided her with faded second hand clothes, as Mary narrated her ordeal to me. The place wasn't comfortable for Mary and her son, so her boyfriend who is now seeking for a job but stays in Lagos, took her to live with his maternal Aunt. His own parents equally claimed that he isn't rule for marriage, since they were still catering for him, as well. So how does Mary survive with her son? She does menial jobs like weeding people's farms for food or a fee. The rest of the story about Mary is better imagined than told.

I made her key into the women's group, urging her to take the project serious. So far, Mary has been serious and focused. The last time I went to the community, Mary accompanied me to purchase the locust beans  from the local markets of Bekwarra and Obudu local government areas. She worked patiently with the women, while the processed the beans into DAWADAWA.

I became more interested in Mary as her humility touched me through and through. I took her to stay with me in Calabar so thY I can show her how I am coordinating the project and also link her with people who have been buying the product to assist

us raise funds for the rural women's Empowerment.

Mary wishes to go back to school but for now, she has chosen to begin  some tailoring sessions. I have paid for that. I will then start thinking about the means we would ensure that she goes back to school.

At the international scene, great support came/coming from our sisters and brothers. JLanghus in her magnanimity linked me to another brother with a goodwill to change the plight of Widows and Orphans. He is AbdulRaheem Disiru. He is very passionate about the assisting Widows and Orphans lead normal and useful lives. To demonstrate his humanitarian goodwill, AbdulRaheem is already discussing with with on how to celebrate this year's international Widows' day.

Through the World Pulse connection, I have met Sarah Joseph from Jos, plate State. We are working together enrich nutrition baskets to be distributed to Widows and Orphans.

With the inclusion of Mary in my Empowerment Walk, I can say with much gratitude that the dream truly kicked-stared well, as I have arranged, "One woman at-a- time/ One girl-a- time. Success story it is but I wish it to be more successful. 

Mary has some skills I'm the Dawadawa processing. She applies the sanitation and hygiene components appropriately. Hence, she would be trained on how to lead the rural women to imbibe healthy habits.

She would also serve as a Liaison and Marketer assisting in the group sales for the profits to be shared among members. She would coordinate sales outlets for the marketing of the product, outside the locality of Esekwe Erue.

So in all, I have 12 women that I am expecting to benefits equally, from this project. Esekwe is being used a tested location for the expansion of the program to other parts of Boki.

For the expansion of project to other areas, I initiated the Grassroots Women Journalists in Nigeria GWJiN to replicate the activities of the World Pulse online community. Reason is that, these people in the information-poor communities are highly dis advantaged. They have no awareness of existing services being provided for enhancing living conditions. Worst of all, they have no access to the internet and do not even see how they have been captured into the websites or net. Neither do they also have a platform to express their concern and unite efforts to speak out in one voice.

I pray that we would have more people show inter's in the service to Humanity, with special attention to the plight of women and girls.

I pray also that we have more people of goodwill join Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale who helped the women with computers to revitalize the digital program.

I would be most glad to see Mary and other women get a Mentor to help me grow in all its ramifications.

 

Comments 8

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florence kekong
May 13, 2018
May 13, 2018

Dear all, pls pardon the typographical errors
For instance, I meant to say that Mary needs a Mentor to help her grow in all its ramifications. Thanks

Adeola Samuel
May 13, 2018
May 13, 2018

Its good to know that you are impacting more lives, more grease to your elbows. Greater help is just around the corner!

Olutosin
May 14, 2018
May 14, 2018

Well done my dearest sister and friend. I pray for you daily. My prayer is that your coast will be enlarged by God's grace. I pray that all your dreams come true.
I love you my dear sister and I appreciate your work with these women. I hope to support you soon.

QueenVirtuous
May 14, 2018
May 14, 2018

Dear Florence Kekong,

I'm impressed, truly impressed, with your work among the rural people. These widows and young women have hope restored, and will be eternally grateful to you for that. This is truly admirable.

I'm also happy that you have an interpersonal support group to spur you on in this mission. You're going to need everyone of them during this journey. And we at World Pulse are here to cheer you on as well.

Finally, I admire your optimism. Please know that much of the success of this project rests on the glee in your spirit. It begins with you, keep hope alive.

Please, keep us updated with progress reports about the women and your project. I'll be expecting to read more from you.

One love!

Jill Langhus
May 14, 2018
May 14, 2018

Hi Florence. What an amazing and inspiring update. I so glad the momentum is building on this project, and that you are expanding to other areas. What sort of mentor are you looking for for Mary? There are a couple of sites that you can get free mentoring: http://www.cherieblairfoundation.org/mentoring-programme-profiles/, https://www.micromentor.org/home. I have tried the later one and it's quite good. I hope they help.

coolasas
May 14, 2018
May 14, 2018

Hello Florence,
This is a good initiative and a good way to be participative. You have focused to help Mary and bring in different people to help to give her support and eventually could help her progress to make good of what has already been started.
May you continue to progress in your desire to help other women and girls in a vulnerable situation and with the WP community, know that we support you all the way.
Good luck

Coolasas

Corine Milano
May 17, 2018
May 17, 2018

Amazing work, Florence! Thank you for sharing this. It's wonderful to see you posting again after all these years on World Pulse. I'm proud of your efforts and all the change you are making in your community!

Pertulla Ezigha Ketcha
Nov 17, 2018
Nov 17, 2018

great work you are doing there dear. Congratulations and keep up