By Peter Duru
Makurdi – Succor has finally come theÂ way of numerous persons living with the dreaded HIV/AIDS virus, Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) and selected destitutes across Benue and parts of Nasarawa State through the bold initiative of the First Lady of Benue State, Mrs. Yemisi Suswam.
The Benue State Governorâ€™s wife who through her pet project, the Sev Av Foundation, distributed over N20 million worth of anti retroviralÂ drugs and financial assistance to people living with the HIV/AIDS virus as well as orphans and vulnerable children across the state noted that the intervention was her little way of providing relief for the needy.
The disbursement done in conjunction with the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, was aimed, according to Mrs. Suswam, at extending lifeline to the sick and less-privileged in the society in line with Biblical injunction.
The disbursement which was done sequel to an earlier package for selected persons in Nasarawa State is said to demonstrate the tenacity with which the Governorâ€™s wife picked up a challenge many in the past willingly shied away from.
Mrs. Suswam said: â€œThis initiative presents a historical lesson to all and goes as far as buttressing the fact that if we all act in conviction and absolute commitment, poverty can be reduced in Benue State and this can go a long way in reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and its impact on the less privilegedâ€.
While presenting the financial assistance and drugs to the beneficiaries drawn from eight local government areas of the State amid jubiliations, Mrs. Suswam noted that the gesture was in continuation of series of lifeline set aside for the less privileged and victims of the HIV scourge in Benue State and parts of Nasarawa State by her NGO.
She emphasized that her NGO has gone into partnership with relevant agencies and groups in order to put up a formidable fight against the dreaded disease and poverty in the society, stressing that the programme would gradually cover the entire state of Benue .
According to her,Â Sev Av Foundation received the first tranche of funds from the National Agency for the Control of AIDS NACA in November 2009 which it applied in the training of 43 home-based care givers selected from 10 local governments in the ratio of eight for Benue State and two for Nasarawa State.
She explained that in furtherance of the same collaboration between Sev Av and NACA, drugs have been supplied to hospitals and health centers in the same ratio to both states as well as paid the school fees of some orphans and vulnerable children, OVC in the states.
Mrs. Suswam, who regretted that poverty and stigmatization remain significant factors in the fight against HIV/AIDS, stressed that her focus was to economically empower randomly selected disadvantaged persons living with the disease in the Benue and Nasarawa where her NGO covers.
She charged the beneficiaries of the gesture who each got N40, 000 to set up micro businesses to make judicious use of the money given to them so as to make the tripartite collaboration of Sev Av, NACA and them, a huge success.
In her remarks at the occasion, the Head of Party, Christian Health Association of Nigeria, CHAN, Mrs. Zipporah Ikpanor said in acknowledgement of Mrs. Suswamâ€™s genuine efforts at providing succour to the less-privileged in Benue State and neigbouring Nasarawa State, the association signed a memoranda of understanding with Sev Av Foundation to supply drugs to clinics in parts of the states.