“Service”, according to Eldon Tanner,” is the rent we pay for living on earth”. Some scriptures emphasise the need for us to render humanitarian services: ” Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—when you already have it with you. — Proverbs 3:27-28; “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done”. — Proverbs 19:17.
The wife of Abia State Governor, Mrs.Nkechi Ikpeazu has observed these admonitions religiously by rendering numerous humanitarian services to the less-privileged and the needy. Recently, through the instrumentality of her pet project,”Vicar Hope Foundation” built a two- bedroom bungalows to two indigent widows in Ohuhu and Amuzukwu communities both in Umuahia North local government area of the State. Prior to this, she had built seven bungalows for six indigent widows and one blind man in some local government areas in the state.
Vicar Hope, as the name implies, is indeed a bastion of hope for the Abia less- privileged and needy. It is designed to (a) assisting the physically challenged and vulnerable persons, (b) to provide a platform for enhancing the status of women and children through education, empowerment, welfare and healthcare provision (c) to locate, and establish indigent widows and other person as well as give love and succor to less privileged, the motherless babies and young orphans, (d) to material assistance, financial support, moral assistance and social amenities to the less privileged as well as impart skills that would make them self reliant. (e) to carry out enlightenment campaigns, to sensitize against and combat deadly diseases, health challenges, poverty, obnoxious widowhood and teenage girl practices, as well as promote women and child rights.
In the foreseeable future, the foundation’s flagship programme, the sickle cell project would offer a huge relief to sickle cell patients as constructions of its permanent offices as well as an advanced Sickle Cell Care Centre are underway .
The first lady’s philanthropic gestures are not restricted to donating buildings to the less-privileged. Through her skills acquisition programme, Abia , in the days ahead will witness a highly- skilled and productive populace. This will ensure a high reduction in crime. The argument is that when the energies of the teeming youth population are meaningfully engaged in productive activities, the tendency to engage in criminal activities would wane to the barest minimum. It is a widely- held view that” an idle man is a devil’s workshop”. The programme is expected to equip 100 participants of the first phase of the programme with equipment and start- up capital to enable them become small scale entrepreneurs.
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As a prelude to the laudable “Abia Free School Meal Initiative”, school children across some local government areas in the state have been dewormed. The benefits of deworming school children cannot be overemphasised .Experts opine that worm infections can have a crucial negative impact on a child’s cognitive ability and general health. It is further argued that school attendance of children who have worms are more likely threatened because of regular breakdown of their health. The parasites are also constitute serious barrier to increased economic development since children who have worms are less likely to be productive, as adults.
Worms infestation can compromise the immune system, expose the host to malnutrition, destruction of tissues and organs, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, intestinal obstruction, anaemia, ulcers and other health problems. Deworming of children in the developing societies have been identified as a potentially effective public health and development strategy.
No time is the governor’s wife deworming exercise more auspicious than the Abia State Primary Schools Lunch Programme (APSLUP), which is a private/ public scheme supported by farmers and partners and the rationale of this programme is drawn from the World Health Organisation’s standard which states that the average daily calorie requirement for boys and girls are 2500 calories. The programme is expected to provide 1080 calories at each meal which forms 43.2 percent and constitutes nearly half of the average daily calorie requirement. Rice beans and egg are components of the meal that will be served in schools and nutritional requirements for a growing child such as vitamin A, protein and iron are available in these components.
Indeed, Mrs. Nkechi Ikpeazu’s humanitarian gestures are sending strong signals to other well-to-do Abians to invest in humanity
Ukegbu, a public policy analyst and communication strategist, writes from Umuahia, Abia State
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