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.