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MTN Foundation: Empowering the physically challenged

By  Emmanuel Elebeke

FOR the 27 year old Blessing Urieto, Thursday 12 November was a day of  self fulfillment and dream come through, as MTN Foundation in partnership with Friends of the Disabled Vocational Training Centre commissioned a vocational training project for people with disabilities at Ojo Oba, Isale Eko, Lagos.  Blessing who recalled the  bitter experience and inhuman treatment she suffered in the hands of her late mother said “ I thank MTN for providing us with this centre where we are paid salaries at the end of the month, because I never thought that I will be paid for doing what I enjoy doing, though with support of my father.”
With this, she said “I can now plan ahead as a student, on how to grow my business when I finally graduate here in two years time. I never knew, all my mother was showing me then was wickedness and hatred, it was an ugly  experience and bitterness of my disability. But God showed me love.

*Blessing Urieto
*Blessing Urieto

“ I don’t know if the dead do see, but I’m sure that if they do, my mum will be regretting haven done me so. I almost took my life because of the inhuman treatment”
To her, parents who have children with disability should  not abandon them but show them care and love.

“They are not God forsaken, but we are all created by God, and I believe that the reason why God created us some to be able like you and some of us like me is for his name to be glorified. I believe that if all of us are able body men and women, we would not value ourselves.” said Urieto.

Even with her disability, she said “I’m still thanking God that I’m alive with disability. That is his aim and he has done that the way it pleased him. I’m achieving great things today and I know that I have not started. I;m convinced that if I was born without disability, by now, at the age of 27, I would have been at the University or even get married and doing great things by now. So, by denying us the exposure, you have denied us all the good things God had marked us to achieve. When you keep us out of benefitting from things like this, as MTN has done, we can’t achieve any thing and that will make life more miserable for us.

That is where disability comes in.” she explained.  She expressed gratitude to  MTN Foundation for the gesture and promise to make maximum use of it.
In his remarks, Corporate Services Executive of MTN, Akinwale Goodluck said the project was very dear to MTN because it brings succour to a category of our people who , because of their peculiar physical conditions are denied  many facilities that are usually taken for granted.

According to him, the idea was to empower great percentage of the estimated  250 million Nigerians living with one form of disability or the other with skills and capacity that would aid them to be self reliant and self sustaining, with out necessarily be liabilities to their families and relatives.  “The skill acquisition centre has been refurbished, equipped and upgraded to provide skills in the  areas of computer appreciation, bead making, welding, fashion designing, agriculture, among others. This is one of the ways that we are convinced that we can make a lasting difference in the lives of this category of our people.” said Goodluck.

The fulfilled Urieto who hailed from Edo state said she derives joy in dress and bead making before the MTN o ffer came and described the gesture as an amazing one.
“This is wonderful and  it amazes me when I begin to think what this centre means to me. At least, we are being paid by MTN foundation N8,000 per month. At least, I have been  here for two years now, and  hope to graduate in two years time. My prayerto God is not to give me children with disability.

In his goodwill message, Lagos state governor, Babatunde Fashola, represented by the state Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Joke Adefulure said the initiative was in line with the state government’s objective of alleviating poverty through skill acquisition programme across the state. He pledged the state government’s commitment at creating enabling environment in the sector that would facilitate growth and development in the nation as a whole.

“We are currently training about  4000 students to be graduated at the end of this year. The Ibeju centre has been commissioned by the governor. We have not only given people professional training and skill acquisition through the programme, but have been at the vanguard of campaign against various abuses against grass-root women and children in the state.”  The ministry according to her, had graduated over 25 thousand this year and 4012 youths last year, adding that the government will give them support through a micro-finance programme, and  appealed to well meaning Nigerians to come and support those living with disability. The traditional ruler of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiotu in his speech described the MTN foundation’s gesture as a good omen saying that it would boost development of the state and nation at large.


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