REPOSITIONING MY EMPOWERMENT WALK FOR EFFECTIVE COLLABORATION AND SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT OF POOR WIDOWS AND SCHOOL DROP-OUTS IN RURAL NIGERIA

florence kekong
Posted June 11, 2018 from Nigeria
Jennifer Ejah Ejemot the poor Orphan and Widow, showing photos of her children in hospital

When I launched my "Empowerment Walk: One Woman, One Girl at a Time", strategy, I knew that I was not on this walk alone. Evidence was when I discussed my intention and implementation plan with my World Pulse Motivator and Inspiration, Sister Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale. She assured me with initial kick-off funds. Along side my trusted friend, Cecilia Ofum, a retired Nurse and Cross River State Coordinator of people living positively with HIV/AIDS, we set off for Boki. It turned out to be a huge success. Martina Ejah, the first poor Widow was empowered to start a small business of selling locust beans (Dawadawa). World Pulse sisters took the led in commending these effects and gave me great encouragement 

The project began to record a huge success as an enthusiastic Olutosin further registered her support to include the sale of bush mango (Ogbono) for empowerment of another poor Widow in the same locality of Esekwe Erue.

Though I knew that more and more people would join me in this project, little did I know it would get the tremendous support it is receiving right now. Barely three months into the "Walk" (That is, between the months of March and June, 2018), the One Woman, One Girl at-a-Time strategy has impressively progressed into empowering a total number of 16 Widows and two girls who have dropped out of school for different reasons. A welcome Initiative that bears dignity and hope for the Nigerian women.

As the "Walk" continues to create ripple effects across the Nigerian nation and double the impact of goodwill, more and more good people are already triggered into offering the simple service to Humanity. The Walk is simple. You don't have to have money to start. All you need is unquenchable passion for making life fit for living for all human kind.

The "Walk" which was designed to begin in Boki as a tested pilot location for possible expansion of empowerment opportunities to more Widows  in the other communities of the State, is rather, taking a different but a welcome shape. The good is spreading fast to other States as well, due to its acceptability. This is as a result of the result-oriented strategies I adopted to integrate interested individuals, irrespective of gender and place of of origin, into the "Walk".

Formulating strategies that seek to redress vulnerability is key and apt in today's competitive world. Empowering women an girls should not be an option but a necessity. They are the nation's greatest assets. They possess great potentials with significant resilience and resourcefulness that we cannot over look, but tap, if we are to provide long-term solution to poverty and it's attendant woes. This explains further why I make the question, "What can you do for Nigeria's poor women...?" a frontline poser, whenever an opportunity arises for the celebration of women in any form.

Now, the world over, is preparing for the 2018 celebration of Widows Day. With the theme; " Invisible Women, Invisible Problems", the question is for you and I, and all of us- What can you do to make women who have been invisible in your community or workplace for a long time, visible now that opportunities are being open to them for a grab?

Yes! World Pulse sisters are applauding and commending my genuine efforts. I am truly encouraged. But I would be more encouraged and happy if these women whose issues I  am working hard to bring to public glare, are also, able to read all that I write about them and are also, able to speak for themselves and other women, just like we are doing in the World Pulse platform. These impoverished women live under harsh conditions made worst by their information-poor positions that they find themselves. Madam Martina Ejah was only able to see her photograph on the newspaper but she couldn't read all that I wrote about her. She depends on the information the interpreter would give to her. Sad indeed.

There has to be way out of this challenge. I initiated another strategy-  to bring passionate people to work together to take information and education for to the doorsteps of grassroots people. I formed the World Pulse Grassroots Women Journalists in Nigeria(WP-GWJiN) with the strategic goal of mass mobilizing interested literate persons to volunteer to take information, education and communication to the doorsteps of the disadvantaged people. Nay, women and girls in the rural areas. WP-GWJiN can be described as, "A-hard-copy kind of tool that churns out information from the World Pulse online community and provides the off-line kind of services that can step-down information, education, communication and training to the rural populace. Through this cohesive network, Volunteers working in the heart of the communities can share their stories with the rural people and encourage them to work together to share skills to identify and choose the best ways available for the empowerment of most vulnerable women and girls in their respective localities.

WP-GWJiN views vulnerability as a huge challenge that can be redressed by positioning Volunteers to work as Agents of Change. The aim is to provide a gradual scale-down and eventual elimination of vulnerability in the communities.

This was how AbdulRaheem Disiru, a  World Pulse brother of mine, met an already existing platform that is providing a safe space for him to put into reality, his dream of working to enhance the lives of Widows and orphans, including destitutes in Nigeria. Our World Pulse Encourager, JLanghus connected AbduRaheem and I, when she discovered that this gentleman with a good heart, was looking for a Collaborator for his Foundation that he is creating for Widows and Orphans. As we got talking and sharing ideas and details on how we both are working to achieve the desire to change the plight of the vulnerable, I discovered that AbdulRaheem is truly a committed young man with high sensitive empathy and passion for life. And like JLanghus said to me, " Hopefully, you will both get smiling out of the Collaboration". That is exactly what is happening now. Thanks to JLanghus for the great push.

AbdulRaheem and I are seriously engaging other members of the WP-GWJIN in the Empowerment Walk that that is gradually making an entrance into the different States. On his part, Abdul, as I prefer to call him, has picked three Widows from our pilot location of Boki, to begin to fulfill his empowerment promise. These lucky Widows would be joining Widows in Lafia, Nassarawa State to celebrate this year's day of Widows.

This explains in details how the Empowerment Walk that began with just one woman, has dramatically shot up to 16 women benefiting. One of the Widows here, would still be benefitting from Olutosin's offer of adding bush mango to the business.

Our activities attracted our group members who are beginning to also, initiate programs that embrace empowerment in all its ramifications. Veronica Ogbole, a seasoned Journalist with capabilities in gender-sensitive reporting, is the Chief organizer of the event slated to appreciate/celebrate the bravery of Widows on 23rd June, 2018. A Widow, herself, Ogbole is collaborating with WP-GWJIN, with support from the Lafia Catholic Church Deanery, to empower 12 Widows from the six Parishes of the Church. She wants to start the locust beans business for the 12 Widows. She is asking Widows from Cross River who have the skills produce the desired quantity to be donated to the Lafia Widows to begin their small businesses. A giant stride for our Widows. These Widows, who had hitherto, been invisible, would finally become visible as World Pulse would be uniting their voices and raise them to be heard globally. BRAVO! World Pulse. Great thing is that the event would afford  rural Widows of Boki who have never travelled out of their locality, opportunities to visit another State, interact and cross-fertilize ideas with other Widows and personalities  who would be gracing the occasion. They would interact and share stories with each other. It is expected that at the end of the event, they would have initiated forward+looking strategies that would promote friendship and trade between the two States.

Ahead of the celebration, another good Sister and also a member of the WP-GWJIN, Justina Eteng, in her magnanimity, donated fairly-used clothes to be donated to the two school drop-outs-Mary Asi Akwagiobe and Mercy Bisong.

It is pertinent to ignite people's desire to look at the empowerment of the most vulnerable as an urgent action to be taken now. This informed our first advocacy meeting to the Traditional Monarch of Ugep in Yakurr local government area of Cross River State. The visit to His Majesty, Obol Ofem Ubangha Ubana was to create awareness of our activities and seek for support of our program activities. Ugep is the most populous native village in the State and second most populated, after Ibadan in Nigeria. The unreported cases of sexual abuse of women and girls are still very high. We are investigating a case put before us that a day is set aside for raping of women who are found on the streets on days  forbidden for any woman who has not reached menopause to be found outside the homes. We have done a follow-up visit after the advocacy visit to the Monarch. We would resume our visit to the locality after the Lafia event.

All in all, 16 women and 2 girls would be proud beneficiaries (18) of my Empowerment Walk in just three months. On my part, I have included Jennifer Ejah Ejemot to be one of these beneficiaries. Her case become most sorrowful in recent times when she was faced with the challenge of seeing her two young children, boy and girl go through two major operations that cost so much money.

It is true that these Widows have suffered in so many ways but I am bent on making them to get up. I will not allow their plight to continue. Their destiny will not be determined by either the roadblocks in their paths or the deliberate efforts of family and community members imposing traditional ugly practices on them. These challenges will not keep them down as long as I embark on this "Empowerment Walk". My Walk is set to turn their ugly situations into stepping stones for them to move upwards and forward, ever. Amen.

Comments 37

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Olutosin
Jun 11, 2018
Jun 11, 2018

Great work you are doing my sister. Please keep on working. Don't be discouraged. God will provide all the needed resources for you. Amen
I'm happy that you are Abdul are collaborating to do more.

florence kekong
Jun 11, 2018
Jun 11, 2018

Thanks my sister. With wonderful people like you I will never give up. I have learnt how to be strong from you. May God bless and keep you strong and healthy amen.

Jill Langhus
Jun 13, 2018
Jun 13, 2018

Great work, Florence:-) Thanks for your update and continued hard work to help these women and girls!!! I'm very impressed and very pleased that Abdul was able to help you that much. Yay:-)

How can we help to get more women and girls to report cases of abuse and to help prevent them in the first place?

florence kekong
Jun 12, 2018
Jun 12, 2018

Thank you my sister for connecting Abdul and I.
We will do better than that.
For women to report abuse and seek for ways to curb the ugly trend, we have already began talks with a group of women in Ugep, the second largest populated native town in Nigeria.
Right now we are working to see to the success of the Widows' Day. Thanks for always leading me to understand my work. May God bless you richly. Amen

Jill Langhus
Jun 13, 2018
Jun 13, 2018

You're very welcome:)

Great to hear!!!!

You, too, hon!!! Have a great day!

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Jun 12, 2018
Jun 12, 2018

Wow, wow, wow! Great initiatives you started there, Florence!

How valuable it is that you truly "WALK" the talk from this online space. I love the idea on establishing a WP-GWJIN!

These are great news! Keep it up and please post more of your updates!

Thank you for sharing!

florence kekong
Jun 12, 2018
Jun 12, 2018

Sure, Karen, I will post more stories. Thank you for being a strong Encourager of my WALK. May God bless you, amen.

Corine Milano
Jun 12, 2018
Jun 12, 2018

Florence, this is wonderful to read about your work. Thank you for sharing it, as always!

<3
Corine

florence kekong
Jun 12, 2018
Jun 12, 2018

Thank you, Corinne, with your continuous support, I can do more. Receive my kind regards.

Tarke Edith
Jun 12, 2018
Jun 12, 2018

Wao sister Florence you took a bold step to change the life of widows and drop out girls , this inicaitive is a good one sis you will see that woldpulse is helping to move women from their slumber to be active in the society ma let work more harder to save wonen from pooverty

florence kekong
Jun 12, 2018
Jun 12, 2018

Thanks dear Sister, Edith. It is my pleasure and I am most encouraged by your kind and pushy words. May our good God help us as we embark on this journey. God bless you richly. Amen.

Stephanie Mah
Jun 14, 2018
Jun 14, 2018

How amazing Sister Florence, great jod , may God give you all the strength to do more thanks for giving hope to the widow and girls God bless you sister.

florence kekong
Jun 14, 2018
Jun 14, 2018

Thanks my dear. I am really encouraged. May we all successfully touch lives positively, amen.

Kristine Yakhama
Jun 15, 2018
Jun 15, 2018

Thumbs up empowering a woman is building a nation.Women should be like Deborah in the bible , they should know they are the bridge to life and God depends on us

florence kekong
Jun 16, 2018
Jun 16, 2018

Thanks, dear Kristine. You are on point. We are the ones to make this world a better place to live.Receive my warmest regards.

Mayokun Toye-Olukotun
Jun 17, 2018
Jun 17, 2018

Keep up the good work Sis, I love your energy, passion and efforts, GOD bless you more.

florence kekong
Jun 17, 2018
Jun 17, 2018

Thanks my lovely sister, Mayokun, may God bless you richly.

Ese Ajuyah
Jun 18, 2018
Jun 18, 2018

Hello Florence,

You are doing such great work. Kudos to you. Every great thing began as a seed I am sure you are gaining new and greater heights. Looking forward to hearing greater achievements.
Best wishes.
Ese

florence kekong
Jul 20, 2018
Jul 20, 2018

Thanks, dear Ese, I am encouraged. May God bless you abundantly, amen.

AGNES TUMASANG
Jun 19, 2018
Jun 19, 2018

Thank you

florence kekong
Jun 19, 2018
Jun 19, 2018

God bless you, my Sister

florence kekong
Jul 20, 2018
Jul 20, 2018

Grateful, Agnes. Stay blessed always, amen

AGNES TUMASANG
Jun 19, 2018
Jun 19, 2018

This is wonderful keep up,

florence kekong
Jul 20, 2018
Jul 20, 2018

Dear Agnes, thanks so much. Stay always blessed

Juliet Acom
Jun 21, 2018
Jun 21, 2018

Wow!

You are a true inspiration to many women like myself. I am encouraged to be better.

florence kekong
Jun 21, 2018
Jun 21, 2018

Thanks Dearest, pls stay encouraged. You would do better, I believe

florence kekong
Jul 20, 2018
Jul 20, 2018

Sure, Juliet, you will make it and the world would be reading you equally, amen.

Princesse MUHINDO
Jun 21, 2018
Jun 21, 2018

Bonjour cher membres WP, chère Florence je suis fière de ton courage et initiative qui me donne tant d'amour. Que cette lutte nous donne plus de résistance en réussite et un grand nombre afin de rendre certaines conditions de vies de démunies autonomes.

florence kekong
Jun 21, 2018
Jun 21, 2018

Merci, Princesse.Enchante. Tu parles anglais? Parcel que je ne parles pas bien francis.et j'ecrite en peu, aussi. I will get more serious with my French lessons.
I am really happy to meet you. Love you

monica_5
Jun 21, 2018
Jun 21, 2018

Wow am speechless and humbled after reading this!
I used to think u can't start anything except u have tonnes of cash but u have shown that apart from dreams one needs deep rooted determination to succeed.
Keep it up sister, God bless you real good.

florence kekong
Jul 20, 2018
Jul 20, 2018

Thanks, my dear Monica. I am glad that you appreciate my work. You can start from any angle and God will lead you through. Cheers!

Olubee
Jun 28, 2018
Jun 28, 2018

Dear sis.
You have really shown that determination leads to success.Well done on all that you are able to achieve. Am raelly encouyrage not to give up on empowering women and girls in my community. Thanks .You are bless.

florence kekong
Jul 20, 2018
Jul 20, 2018

Thanks, Olubee. God will always be with us in this journey, amen

ARREY- ECHI
Jul 18, 2018
Jul 18, 2018

Great work you are doing.
Keep going as you move to empower one girl/woman a time.

florence kekong
Jul 20, 2018
Jul 20, 2018

Thanks Arrey. Love you.

Anne Dupont
Jul 29, 2018
Jul 29, 2018

Dear Florence,

Thank you for the wonderful work you are enabling with your walk. Those are impressive numbers in such a short period of time. Keep up the great, impactful work you are doing—so many of us are behind you! With love, Anne

florence kekong
Jul 29, 2018
Jul 29, 2018

Thanks, Anne. With your support, I am inspired to move on. God bless you. Amen