June 23, 2014
Highlights of the 2014 International Widows’ Day Event Held in Bwari
It was yet another year of event, this time the International Widows’ Day (IWD) and AWACIO needed to play a role. Why? Because, International Widows’ Day is a United Nations ratified day of action to address the "poverty and injustice faced by millions of widows and their dependents in many countries". The day takes place annually on 23 June.
International Widows Day was established by The Loomba Foundation to raise awareness of the issue of widowhood. The significance of 23 June is that it was on that day in 1954 that Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba - mother of the Foundation’s founder, Lord Loomba – herself became a widow. One of the Foundation’s key goals is to highlight what it describes as an invisible calamity. A recently published book – Invisible, Forgotten Sufferers: The Plight of Widows around the World – reveals that there are an estimated 245 million widows worldwide, 115 million of whom live in poverty and suffer from social stigmatization and economic deprivation purely because they have lost their husbands. On 21 December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly formally adopted 23 June as International Widow’s Day, endorsing by unanimous acclaim a proposal introduced by President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon.
AWACIO has over 250 widows registered under the organization. As such, it was necessary to encourage and appreciate the widows on a day like this. AWACIO decided to revisit 48 of the widows that were recently empowered through the sponsorship of TOTAL Upstream Nig. Ltd. These widows were trained in the following skills: bead making, hair dressing, tailoring, soap making, and cake making. AWACIO decided to use this opportunity to follow up and monitor their progress, and also to see if there were challenges undermining their progress.
This activity was aided by the generous donation of two of AWACIO’s partners. Their generous contributions made our event a huge success.
The widows were notified and asked to convene at the Bwari Women Center by 11 am. We were expecting 47 widows because we learnt that one of the widows (Mrs. Virginia Ugwuozor was recently deceased). As we drove to the Center from Abuja we encountered heavy rain which had turned the bright sky dark. We continued with the Journey because we knew we wanted to brighten the faces of these widows.
When we arrived, we were met by nineteen (19) widows who explained that the rain had detained some of them. We encouraged them to contact the others and were later joined by six (6) more widows. We were also informed that some of them may have traveled to Abuja for another IWD event there. We decided to proceed with the program.
The event kicked off with some songs and prayer by one of the widows. We observed a moment of silence for late Virginia Ugwuozor. We then started by trying to understand why the other members were not present, what they were doing with their skills, and how they were using them to generate income.
One widow had sewn a number of skirt and blouse outfits and brought them to show us. A number of them that were soap makers brought soaps in bottles and we bought most of them. A good number of the widows did not bring a sample of their skill products as we had encouraged them to do on the text message sent to them.
We tried to evaluate their financial plight as a result, and found that most of them were doing something and some of them had also gone to acquire skills in other areas in order to make them more marketable. And we applauded them for that. For example some of the widows who trained in tailoring and hairdressing went and learnt how to make soap. They bottled their soap products into plastic bottles and sold each for N100. They also added that the soap business had become saturated but they had some regular customers.
We encouraged them to try and make their goods at home and then sell, and we also assured them that if we are able to find funds, we will assist those who are doing well with their skills to find shops were they can display their goods. Dr. Okeke also told them that one of the ways we will know those working hard is from their loan repayment. If they are not working then they are not going to be able to pay their loans.
Dr. Claudia Okeke, CEO of AWACO, informed them that we will be holding a fashion seminar in the nearest future, and AWACIO will inform them when the time comes. In this seminar, they will learn to design clothes and get more tips on tailoring. She also informed them that this will benefit, especially, those who are skilled in tailoring. She further notified them that this seminar will be provided by a staff of Total Upstream Nig. Ltd. who has volunteered to do this for their own gain.
During the program, our guest at the event, Mrs. Alaki Wellington encouraged them to work hard as widows for the benefit of their children. She informed them that her mother is also a widow and works hard in life to maintain her family.
The widows were given refreshments. Following the refreshments, each widow received a hitarget wrapper and N1000.00 naira. This elated them that they were singing and dancing, and praising God for a while. They were thanking God, AWACIO, and Total Upstream Nig. Ltd for their good fortune.
The event was concluded with a closing prayer by one of the widows. Below are some photos of the event.
Fig 1: CEO, AWACIO addressing widows
Fig 2: Praise and Worship session
Fig 3: Prayer session
Fig 4: CEO, AWACIO evaluating the widows on their acquired skills
Fig 5: widows collecting hitarget wrappers
Fig 6: Widows received the sum of N1, 000 from CEO, AWACIO
Fig 7: Widows leaving happily after the event.
Bead Making Training Session
On the 29th of May, 2012, AWACIO held a training conference for the widows in Bwari, Bwari Local Government Area, Abuja Nigeria. Over 100 widows gathered at the Bwari Women Center and were allowed to gain knowledge on certain skills. Trainers in the area of Bead making, Egg roll and Yam cake preparation were mobilized to teach the skills. The widows were also lectured on how to use their skills to multiply their talents, and improve their livelihood.
One of the training sessions: the widows being trained in the skill of Bead Making
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