It was a moment of joy and celebration, as the Widows of Umuahia South Local Government Area of Abia State, converged at Eluama na Mgbedeala Autonomous Community,Umunwanwa,to receive Christmas gifts from the founder of High Chief Gift Okonu Foundation.
Though the Widows outreach which was basically for the women of Umunwanwa community, but as a way of touching more lives, extended to other widows from neighboring communities in Umuahia South Local Government Area.
The outreach which started over five years ago in Umuahia South,has resonated great hope in families during the yuletide season, as most families rely on the bags of rice and cash gifts they get from the High Chief Gift Okonu Foundation to celebrate the Christmas.
This year was not different, as the founder of High Chief Gift Okonu Foundation,was physically present to celebrate with the widows, doling over five hundred and sixty(560)25kg bags of rice, five hundred and sixty (560) high quality wrappers, cash gifts ranging over millions,food and drinks,as well as other items.
The event which was held at the Premises of the Traditional ruler of Eluama na Mgbedeala Autonomous Community, Umunwanwa, Eze Chibuike Rowland Osuagwu, had each widow smiling home with a bag of rice,wrapper and a cash gift of five thousand naira(#5,000).
Women whose husbands are still alive, as well as men and youths of the community could not withstand the joy emanating from the venue and they were compelled to join in the celebration, getting the sum of five million naira (#5,000000) from the founder.
The event which kick started with a praise session by a musical band, saw women dancing, offering praises to God for blessing Umunwanwa community with a son in law as High Chief Gift Okonu.
In his sermon,the Minister in charge of St Paul’s Methodist Church,Umuawoli, Umunwanwa, Rev Ifeanyi Anusiobi, expressed gratitude to God for bringing High Chief Okonu to alleviate the suffering of women, particularly those whose husbands were late.
He urged the widows not to give up as God can use their children to bless them and advised the other women whose husbands are still alive not to relent in supporting their husbands to keep their homes running smoothly.
In her welcome address, the widows coordinator, Mrs Constance Chukwu thanked the founder of High Chief Gift Okonu Foundation for consistently touching the lives of the widows for the past five years, stating that the outreach has made a positive and significant changes in the lives of widows in the area.
Mrs Chukwu affirmed that the multitude of women that gathered for the event showed the level of passion and love exhibited by the founder, adding that if they are not touched positively, the crowd would have been minute.
Apart from the yearly widows empowerment, Mrs Constance Chukwu,recounted the rural infrastructural projects, particularly the solar installation done by High Chief Gift Okonu in Umunwanwa community.
She commended the Royal father of the community, Eze Chibuike Rowland Osuagwu for granting his son in law access,not just to develop the Community, but also to develop humans, praying God to keep protecting him.
Addressing the women, the founder, High Chief Gift Okonu, relayed how the vision for the widows started. According to him, it was in a dream, he saw himself taking care of the widows and when he woke up from the dream,he decided to start a project for the widows.
“When I told my late Mother about the dream,she gave me her consent and prayed for me. My mother is late now, but you are the mother I have now. What I would have done for my mother,I will do it for you”.
“I brought this initiative to Umunwanwa community because my wife is from here. I love and respect her so much. Her people is my people.This is my second home. You all are my mothers. I will continue to do this, as long as I have life”.
He said women deserved to be loved and respected because they are like God on earth, maintaining that a woman can make or destroy a man, hence, the need to treat them with utmost care.
High Chief Gift Okonu noted that the vision of the widow’s outreach was not prophesied by any prophet, adding that God showed it to him and He(God) would keep making resources available for the yearly program.
He revealed that by next year the foundation would be building its Umunwanwa Centre for the widows and as well its Abia state headquarters, so that the widows can have where to converge for their programs.
According to him, the centres will have a health care unit where widows can receive free healthcare and he pleaded to the leaders of Umunwanwa community to get a piece of land ready for the project.
He, however, urged the widows to pray for continuous flow of God’s blessings in his life, so the program can keep running, urging the women to shun any act of wickedness against their neighbors, maintain a good relationship with people and as well,follow peace with everyone so they can keep attracting God’s blessings.
The women were further treated in a sumptuous meal and had drinks in excess.
In an interview, shortly after the distribution of the items to the widows, the founder, High Chief Gift Okonu, said he started the widows project twenty five years ago,with the foundation having roots in Rivers,Abia,Imo,Anambra, Bayelsa,Delta,Cross River and Akwa Ibom States.
He said the outreach was born out of the desire to bring succor to families as shown to him by God and since he started,God has been making funds available for the project.
According to him, “I come from a very poor family. I am from Rivers state. In my family, to feed was a big problem.My father died when we were kids and it was my mother that managed to train us.Before i will go to school in those days,i will go and hawk akara and pap, just to raise money for my school fees.Little by little, God started blessing us and see where we are today.We need to give back to the society”.
He said over seven hundred million naira (#700,000000) was spent for the 2023 outreach for widows and non-widows in Umunwanwa, adding that the foundation would continue to do more as God blesses him.
The founder who is a native of Imeoha in Rivers state but married to the first daughter of the Traditional ruler of Eluama na Mgbedeala Autonomous Community, Umunwanwa, Eze Chibuike Rowland Osuagwu, said he decided to extend the outreach to Abia because of the love he has for his wife.
Apart from the widows outreach,he said the foundation has its scholarship scheme where students are given educational support from Secondary to University level and also a skill acquisition programs where youths are trained on different skills and also given empowerment support as start-up.
He stated that no government is funding the outreach, disclosing that the foundation is sponsored single handedly with the help from God. He added that he is not giving back to the society for any selfish or political reason,as he is not a member of any party,but maintained that he is only carrying out the instructions given to him by God.
High Chief Gift Okonu, revealed that the vision of the foundation is to cover the 36 states of the federation, lending helping hands to the poor, as a way of reducing crime and providing employment opportunities.
He further prayed God to grant the widows long life to take care of their children, urging people who are well to do but are yet to give back to the society,to plunge into it, as there lies huge blessings in it.
In their respective speeches, a community leader, Chief Emeka Inyama, the widows coordinator,Mrs Constance Chukwu, expressed gratitude to the founder of High Chief Gift Okonu Foundation for his magnanimity and show of love to the people of Umunwanwa, which has transcended from the yearly widows empowerment to community development.
According to them,the recent solar installation project ongoing in the area is being done by High Chief Okonu, among other developmental support he is giving to the community They prayed God to keep upholding him in his good deeds.
A beneficiary who spoke with the press,Mrs Eberechi Ifeanyi Akomah thanked High Chief Gift Okonu for the gifts to the widows and prayed for continuous blessings of God upon his life.