It is precisely one year, today since the inauguration of the Empowerment Support Initiative (ESI), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and pet project of the wife of the Rivers State Governor, Dame Judith Amaechi.
Founded October, 16, last year, ESI has as its primary objective, to provide practical assistance in the development and welfare of women and children, particularly, those who feel excluded and marginalized from social and economic activities, vital for general wellbeing and improved quality of life in the communities.
To achieve this objective, ESI initiative is targeted at developing the potential of women and children to bring about positive change in economically, socially and environmentally sustainable ways, through the implementation of well articulated programmes and projects in the areas of education, healthcare, children, sanitation and nutrition.
In line with its set objectives, ESI has through the enlistment of community volunteers and in collaboration with both local and international groups recorded remarkable success in improving quality of life in our communities through the effective implementation of set projects, in the last one year.
Some of the notable areas the ESI has impacted positively on the people of the state in this one year, are the creating of awareness on women’s right in the communities by promoting public support and respect for those rights; providing strategic and technical support in the delivery of effective communication programmes, particularly on various health risks and diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
Recently, the initiative provided a breast cancer screening machine at the Comprehensive Health Centre at Churchill Road in Port Harcourt to encourage the campaign for regular examination and early detection of breast cancer.
The initiative has equally provided vocational facilities for women in our communities who, by reason of their age, infirmity or disability, financial hardship and poor social circumstances have desperate need for such facilities. Under this programme, a good number of women and youths drawn from the three hundred and nineteen wards of Rivers State are currently engaged in training on various skills and trades such as tailoring, electrical, electronics, plumbing, painting and carpentry within and outside the state.
Also, recently, 53 women who had been sponsored to train in driving skill were empowered with taxis to engage themselves in public transportation challenges giving hope to the next set of 120 others under training.
Another very remarkable milestone recorded by the pet project of Dame Amaechi, is its collaboration with the graduate school of management of Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt to train 2000 women of the state under her Agricultural wealth Empowerment Programme (AWEP) which is aimed at equipping the real farmers with the right skills and training to boost food production in our various communities.
Even more commendable is the special attention the Initiative has given to early child education particularly its drive in championing appropriate foundational and early child education of the less privileged and rural children in the state, which before now has never been given a thought by developers of the education curriculum of our public schools. No doubt, the Initiative of Dame Judith Amaechi bold, plausible and timely as it is, will without doubt re-orientate and re-direct our youths towards appreciating and embracing positive societal values that will put them in the path of honour.
It is in appreciation of this gesture that we acknowledge those who have supported the objectives of ESI through financial contributions and equity donations in terms of land to facilitate the realization of this early child education programme capable of moving Rivers State forward.
We also call on other individuals, corporate organizations, national and international donor agencies to take a queue and that way, help in actualising the vision of her Excellency and enhance timely execution of its projects and programmes that have the capacity to sustain the rural economy of our people.
While, we appreciate the numerous challenges in the execution of these objectives, we associate ourselves with the key statement of her Excellency, “ESI was not my problem but born out of a burden. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to build it but the basic thing is to start.”
“The project is founded by God, I am only the driver. No human that wasn’t a child first. The challenges we face, the things we saw are what made us today. So if you have to start, you have to start early from the bottom of the top and the bottom is the children, if you are not able to correct them now, it will be difficult to do it later.”
As we observe the one year anniversary of the Empowerment Support Initiative (ESI) we are of the view that today should be seen as a day of reflection on the challenges of this initiative and all necessary fine tuning should be made to ensure that this lofty idea does not die with Dame Judith Amaechi as wife of the Governor of Rivers State, but be sustained thereafter.