By JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA
Lion(Mrs.) Gloria Moweta sees Lionism as a good platform for dishing out love and care. Now, fate has entrusted her with the leadership of the Viva L’Amour Lions Club, Ikeja, Lagos, and this gem whose official investiture will hold at the Lagos Sheraton Hotel next Sunday, October 7th, in this interview, reiterates her readiness to serve humanity.
What activities have you marked out for your tenure?
Our core theme for the year as chosen by the District Governor, Lion Stella Agbogu, is ‘Hope for the Nigerian Child’. So, everything we do must be centered on children. I’ve refashioned my own theme for my tenure to be ‘Help for the Nigerian Child’. In line with this, we had an indigent mother whom we gave support to on the arrival of her fifth child, when she couldn’t pay the hospital bill or even cater for the baby and herself.
She had actually been coming to my husband and me for financial help. After that, we went to the Gbagada General Hospital to enquire what they needed, and they told us that a set of television would help entertain hospitalized children while they are recuperating. We however noticed that the ward needed a coat of paint, so, we offered to also paint the walls. Thus, we painted the ward, replaced some worn-out items, bought them a flat screen television and subscribed to cable television for them.
Later, we invited a doctor to come give some young people a talk on ‘Early Sex and Abortion’. I must confess that my life has not remained the same after that show! The responses of the youths showed their level of naivety! They engage in early sex and abortion and do not even know the implications! I’m however happy that we were able to inculcate in them, the importance of abstinence.
What actually inspired your joining the club? Was it just because you wanted to be among these women wearing yellow t-shirts and regalia?
(Laughs)Actually, I didn’t know much about them. I’m a fashion-designer and one of my customers happened to be a member. I always made her clothes whenever they wanted to go for their yearly convention. Sometimes when I delayed the outfit, she would ask me to bring it to their meeting venue. I was able to watch what they were doing, but I had no interest in joining the club. I probably just saw them as ‘some retired women coming together to have fun’.
One day, this customer of mine introduced me to one of her friends who eventually told me I had the heart of a lion. When I asked her why, she said I was ‘kind and full of compassion’ and should therefore come join the club because she had seen the way I gave help to people who came to my place for help. I turned down the offer but when she pressed further, I agreed after gaining my husband’s consent.
Since then, I’ve never regretted it because we’ve been rendering help from one place to another. Some years ago, one of our members walked into our meeting with a woman who was already going blind; the woman could barely see. We learnt that she was meant to go for an operation in India but could not afford the cost.
Right there and then, we all got involved, wrote out checks, and gave to her. About four weeks later, this woman returned to us with her eyes fully corrected! She was very grateful! I felt very glad that we were able to help restore her sight!
There are thousands of blind people out there; do you only help those who come to you?
In Lionism, we are always very much concerned about the sight of people because of the legacy left by our Founder, Marvin Jones. The famous Hellen Keller went to Marvin Jones, begging him to do something about the blind because they live in a world of perpetual darkness.
She pleaded that as we help the needy, for her sake, we should focus on the blind and help them regain their sight if possible. She was not born blind but lost her sight by accident at a very early age. For this reason, our activities have always included some sort of eye care. For my tenure, my club will be sponsoring cornea transplants for six children, and each will cost about N500,000 for surgery and monthly follow-up. I know that’s quite a lot of money, but I intend raising some funds for this at my investiture.
Last year, we sponsored three surgeries, and you need to see the way the kids were happily jumping about after the surgery. These were children who were brought into the hospital blind! For all we know, we might have been saving the sight of a future eminent person, by merely helping children regain their sight!
You used the word ‘merely’, but do you realise not everyone feels the need to help others?
Like I said, the joy expressed by people to whom I give help is always reassuring. My mother taught me to give. We had some neighbours who weren’t well off, who attended the same church as we did. I was always very happy to turn out in lovely outfits every Sunday.
One day, my mother drew my attention to the difference between me and our neighbours. I realised that there was a huge difference in our circumstances. I went into the house and brought out some of my clothes and gave to them, and to my surprise, one of them started crying. Their mothers came round to verify and express their gratitude! I was about 11 years old then.
Unfortunately, I lost my mum two years after. That seed she sowed in my heart has always made me happy when I give. I’m happy that my daughter too is growing into a cheerful giver. One day, my husband heard that someone turned into a goat because he gave alms to a beggar, and the remark he made was “Please, go and tell my wife because she’s fond of giving things to all and sundry!”(Laughs).
Could you tell us about your background and childhood?
I hail from Enugu State, but by marriage, I’m from Delta State. I grew up here in Lagos. My mother died when I was in class one and life was not the same again thereafter. I was the first of four children. After secondary school, I did a number of jobs to be able to support my three younger ones. I later went to a fashion school before eventually getting married.
How has your childhood shaped your attitude towards life?
When I had my mum, I never lacked anything; I was the envy of my friends. But after I lost her, life became difficult and nobody was ready to assist. My siblings and I suffered lack and this taught me a lot! Now I’m happy I’m giving to others the love and care I lacked as a child because I understand what it feels like to live in lack and want.