It was a carnival-like arena at the secretariat of the Nigeria Population Commission (NPC), Surulere, Lagos, as no fewer than 2,300 widows across the state showered praises on the Coordinator of The Roses Ministry, Pharm. (Mrs) Regina Ezenwa, for being instrumental for their welfare, at the Widow’s Day Programme, 2021.
The Roses Ministry, a faith-based non-governmental organisation, aimed at alleviating the plights of widows, orphans and vulnerable persons in the society.
The Annual Widow’s Day programme, held on Thursday with the theme “It came to pass”, saw the beneficiaries enjoyed free health screening, donations of food items, clothing materials and drugs. It had in attendance top management staff of The Roses Ministry, members of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), Surulere Zone, as well as the security personnel.
Speaking on how she came up with the vision to start the Ministry, Pharm.(Mrs) Ezenwa, said the ministry was the result of a divine call she received, adding that it had indeed come a long way as the initiative now has several children on scholarship, saying some had graduated, and that the figure would have increased to ten by next year.
On the reason for giving out free drugs to the widows, she said, “We don’t want anybody to die from lack of drugs. You can even ask those around if anybody paid for her drugs. No! Besides, all the pharmacists that dispensed drugs at this programme are volunteers residing or running their stores in Surulere. They even came with free drugs to show solidarity and identify with the programme,” she noted.
She explained further that at the inception of the Widows Programme, some years back, about 50 widows were in attendance, saying in subsequent years, the number grew to about 100; but by 2016, the number had increased to 1000, which eventually has increased to over 2000 this year. She added that the number keeps rising because virtually all the women were coming along with fellow widows.
“We have empowered the youths through seminars and Bible counselling. Some orphanage homes have also benefited from the Foundation‘s largesse. The ministry will continue to work towards its goal of bringing succour and healing to the homes of these widows while restoring broken marriages and relationships,” she said.
While speaking, Mrs Ugochi Roland-Opara, coordinator of the widows’ department, said the annual event is organised to show love to widows who are helpless and vulnerable, by celebrating them and assisting them to at least put food on their tables by providing them bags of rice, wrapper, bread, and other food items.
“When you look around, you will see that a lot of people go to bed hungry, while a lot do not even know where their next meal would come from, especially widows whose circumstances of losing their husbands has turned them to beggars”, she said
According to her, in order to focus more on the aged and vulnerable women among the lot, Widow’s Day Programme was set aside to celebrate widows and that is part of activities that make up the event, including fellowship and sharing of the Word of God, free medical screening by doctors on ground, free drug dispensing (mostly antimalarial, antibiotics, blood tonic, multivitamins and pain relievers) by volunteer pharmacists and free distribution of household items like bags of rice, textiles, toiletries and vegetable oil.
Roland-Opara also disclosed to Pharmanewsonline how the not-for-profit Ministry started an empowerment programme, which features practical sessions like liquid soap production, beads-making, fashion designing, fish smoking and hairdressing, to train the women.
“We have more than 16 children presently in the universities across the country being sponsored by us and we have many who have graduated, likewise we have those we have empowered and those learning handwork. It has not been easy putting this kind of programme together, but the love to do more has been keeping us going. The world can be a better place if the poor are well catered for, crime will also reduce if everyone has a pot of food at home, and it will be a better place for all of us.
Corroborating Mrs Roland- Opara, Mrs Betty Obialuu, an administrator with The Roses Ministry, said people have been coming on a yearly basis to register irrespective of their tribes, race, colour, denomination and religion, adding that the concern of the Ministry is to ensure they are all taken care of and as well given the message of hope.
“Each of them today will go home with nothing less than a quarter bag of rice, a loaf of bread and six yards of Ankara Cloth. As we speak today, we have 2,300 widows under us and we have made sure that on monthly basis, we give out things to them, and on a day like this, which Is an annual event, we make it go round to all of them”, she explained.
In her appreciation to The Roses’ Ministry, one of the widows, Mrs Taiwo Ajala, a businesswoman who lost her husband in 2014, and joined The Roses Ministry in 2015, said she has no regret joining the ministry despite coming from a Muslim background, adding that since she became a member,the Ministry has been catering for her and her family, including her daughter, Oluwadamilola Zainab Ajala, who got a scholarship from The Roses Ministry and presently in 400 Level studying in OAU, Ile-Ife.
“So I am highly grateful to the Ministry and I appreciate God in the life of Mrs Regina Ezenwa, for what she is doing in the lives of we underprivileged. She is a devoted Christian, she is a detribalised Nigerian and a dedicated giver. The Ministry is truly God sent and it has changed my life for good, in fact, my daughter gets N12,000 as monthly allowance even as a student”, she stated.
Also speaking in the same vein, another beneficiary, Mrs Chinwe Maduka, said she got in contact with The Roses’ Ministry 7 years ago after the death of her husband and since then she has been participating in their programmes and activities and her life has changed for the better.
“I got to know about The Roses’ Ministry through a friend, and since then, I have never had any reason to regret knowing them. I am a proud owner of a shop where I make money on daily basis, take care of my three kids and cater for my daily needs. I pray that God will keep strengthening Madam Ezenwa, and all the partners that are supporting this good gesture”, she said.
For Margaret Cyril Akuchi, a first-class graduate of the University of Ado Ekiti, who got a scholarship programme as a result of her mother, Mrs Eucharia Cyril Akuchi, being a member of the Ministry, noted that it was the best thing that ever happened to her in life as she had given up the aspiration to acquire university education after her secondary education.
According to elated Akuchi, the death of her dad in 2007, when she was 14 years would have nailed the coffin to her aspiration to further her education, but the Ministry came on board when all hope was lost and sponsored her throughout the four years.
The programme featured praise and worship, free medical care, counselling and giving out of relief materials, ranging from Bibles, Ankara fabrics, bags of rice, drinks, loaves of bread, vegetable oil, toiletries and drugs to the widows.