inspite of the harsh economic realities, Nigerians remain a charitable people. Philanthropic minded individuals, groups’ churches and organisations take turns to present to the home some gift items which are mainly food items, toiletries and clothings.
In every society, particularly in the developing countries of the world there exists a special class of persons whose members are incapacitated in one form or the other.
Among this special class are the motherless babies or orphans, physically challenged and the elderly people.
This class which many choose to refer to as the less privileged can hardly fend for themselves because of their pathetic conditions, hence depend on donations and assistance from the government, Churches, Non-Governmental Organisations and public spirited individuals to provide for their daily needs in life.
Today, however, the precarious socio-economic reality in these countries worsened by present global economic meltdown is posing a serious threat to the economy of individuals and most corporate organisations. The question then, is how do the members of this special group who depend on the free will donation of members of the society survive?
Our correspondent who visited the Elderly Peoples home, Port Harcourt reports that inspite of the harsh economic realities, Nigerians remain a charitable people. Philanthropic minded individuals, groups’ churches and organisations take turns to present to the home some gift items which are mainly food items, toiletries and clothings.
Matron of the home which situates at 33 Harbour Rod, Port Harcourt, Rev. Sister Maureen Gertrude Okeke told The Tide On Sunday that maintaining the home which was opened in 1978 is a big challenge.
She said public spirited individuals and organization mainly visit during the festive period to extend some hands of assistance to the inmates.
“Some come with various gift items to support us, some come to pray and I thank them for remembering us. The bible said if you help this class of people, it is to him that such help are rendered unto and the Lord will reward with”, she said.
However, the home with 18 inmates is faced with the problem of electricity supply since the eratic power by the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) is not enough for the inmates who need light always to warm their water for bath because their body can no longer tolerate cold bath.
Rev. Sister Okeke said what appeared like a ray of hope in that direction came to the home on June 2nd when His Excellency the Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi paid a visit to the home as part of his birth day celebration. The governor donated N1 million to the home and was said to have promised the home a 60KVA generator for power supply.
But the matron said the home is still expecting the generator and expressed hope that with that, the problem of power would be over.
She also mentioned the absence of a bus as another problem in the home. We only have an old car which was donated to us few years ago. But we need a bus to take the inmates out for sight seeing. We need television to enable them relax, we need medical experts to come and check their health at regular intervals and we call on the government, companies and individuals with means to come to our assistance”, she appealed.
The inmates of the home inspite, their old age quarrel like babies and curse at the least provocation. They accuse each other of stealing their money and body effects and another major attribute is that such sickness as high Blood pressure, arthritis, optical and flegetfullness are common with them.
Sister Favour who led a delegation of Trinity Women Assembly on visitation to the home urged Nigerians to form the habit of visiting and providing care to such homes. “If they see you come around them they feel happy and loved and such happy moments can add more days and years to their lives”, she said.
Continuing, the woman leader said “not just visiting and caring for the elderly in the home, wherever you see elderly people, show them love, care for them. It is not a curse to be old. They were once as young as we are today so that’s why we are here to spread blessings to them.
Speaking in similar way, Mrs Rita Okwakwere said “it is the wish of every person to be old but unfortunately some of the persons at the elderly peoples home do not have those to care for them so individuals, Churches and other organizations should find time t come and see how they are fairing.”
“We came to see how they are fairing, bring them cloths for Christmas period and provide whatever we can to make them be part of celebration,”, said Mrs Okwakwere who was one of the delegates of an estate in Port Harcourt.
She said the delegates moves from one orphanage to the other, elderly peoples Home and other such areas that less privileged people could be found to extend some love to them.
The Rivers State Government through the Ministry of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation runs the Motherless Babies Home in the old Township and the Rehabilitation Centre at Iriebe in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area where mentally challenged persons are camped and cared for.
The Rivers State Government distributed about 55 wheel Chairs to persons with disabilities during the occasion marking this year’s International day of Persons with disabilities. The chairs were donated by Free Wheel Chair Mission USA.
Speaking at the occasion which took place at the Rivers State House of Assembly, wife of the Governor, Mrs Judith Amaechi said the present administration in the stae is concerned about the physically challenged stressing that they are not left out in the developmental and empowerment plans of government.
Hon. Commissioner for social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Joe Philip Poroma also remarked that the physically challenged need full access to social services, employment, education, income generating opportunities, recreational facilities as well as full political participation.
The Commissioner commended the donor agency for its kind gesture and urged the beneficiaries to make good use of the wheel chairs to better their lives.
Dr. Theresa Ogidi Alaeze who represented the donor agency said the agency was poised to helping people especially those the society think has nothing to offer to them and challenged good people of the state to always be of assistance to persons with disabilities knowing that it could happened to anybody at anytime.
The representative stressed the need for the state government to incorporate the physically challenged into the running of the present administration.
Chairman of the occasion, Apostle David Zilly Aggrey commended the present administration for its efforts in uplifting the plight of the physically challenged in the state and urged other organisations to emulate the good gesture of the free wheel chair Mission USA to positively affect the lives of the less privileged among them.
The Rivers State Chairmen of South South Physically challenged indegenes, mr. Fabian Chigozie Obodo commended Governor Amaechi for granting a Special busary scheme to all Dsiabled students in the higher institutions valued at N500,000.00 each.
Mr. Obodo called on the government of Nigeria to give special appointment of special adviser to the President, governors and local government Chairmen on Disable matters to give the disable persons sense of belonging in the running of the government at the federal, states and local government levels.
He stressed that the physical challenges confronting his members does not mean that they lack abilities to perform well and promised to deliver if such appointments were giving to the members.
Mr. Ibrahim Ahiabu, Public Relations Officer Assocation of Ghanians in Nigeria told The Tide on Sunday that Nigerians are very hospitable and charitable people but urged them to find time to visit the homes of the less priviledged more regularly.
He said by showing concern to those in such pathetic positions, attracts the blessings and favour of God to the lives and families of those who show care.
Mr. Ahiabu said it is in appreciation of the plight of the less privileged that the association visits such homes during the festive periods to pray with them and thank God for His grace and mercies.
One fear expressed by few persons however is that some of the beggers on the road could equally use the money given to them to the spiritual homes where the fortunes of the giver could be affected negatively.
Mrs Grace Williams, one of those who habour such fear said atimes I have something to give to them and I equally have the sympathy but my fear is that when you give them the money, the wicked ones among them could use the money to the shrine or spiritual homes and this can affect the lives of the people.
Reacting to this, Rev. Nnaji Nicolas said such fear is baseless for the children of God who have faith. All you need do is pray over such money and I can tell you the gift will be a source of blessing to both the receiver and giver.
But if the receiver of such help thinks evil, definitely, evil will follow him or her in many fold.
He urged public spirited Christians to consider it as an investment to give to the needy in the society to lighten up their spirit and faces.
“By giving to them, you express love to the receiver and to God who created him or her and God in return will surely double your blessing,” he said.
Apart from giving such gifts as a form of assistance, some also believe that if a woman has difficulty in conceiving, there is the tendency that God can favour her with child if she gives to the motherless babies home and receiving prayers from the inmates.
“I tried it and it worked. My cousin also tried it after about three years after marriage and no pregnancy and it works. So I believe that such attracts God’s favour”, said one respondent who would not want her name in print.