By Peter Duru, Makurdi
It was indeed a day of joy and celebrations for no fewer than 650 widows, orphans, less- privileged persons and jobless youths in Benue State who were the direct beneficiaries and graduates of the Sev-Av Foundation Crafts and Skills Acquisition Centres in Gboko and Vandeikya local government areas of the state.
The Foundation which is a non- governmental organisation and pet project of the Benue State First Lady Mrs. Yemisi Dooshima Suswam, aside availing beneficiaries requisite training in various trades at no cost, also provided them take-off grants and working tools to enable each of them start off their own businesses.
Among those who graduated from the centres were welders, tailors, carpenters, computer operators, soap and bead makers; some were also trained in electroplating, cloth weaving and wood works. They were all elated and their joy knew no bounds at the ceremony. There is no gainsaying that Sev-Av Foundation has indeed impacted positively on the lives of the graduates and also lifted them from the poverty level that they were hitherto confined.
This accomplishment also came on the heels of recent donation of various sums of monies and large quantities of drugs to persons living with HIV/AIDS, orphans and widows at an elaborate ceremony and among the beneficiaries were several little children who were orphaned by AIDS but got lifelines courtesy of the Foundation.
It was a direct show of love and innermost care for the very poor and less-privileged that drew the commendation of the paramount ruler of the Tiv nation, HRH Dr. Alfred Akawe Torkula, Tor Tiv the IV who graced the occasion in Gboko and described the gesture of the Benue First Lady as a legacy that would forever linger in the minds of the down-trodden.
The Tor Tiv lauded the vision of Mrs. Suswam and her determination to give hope to the hopeless and source of livelihood to the jobless in the state.
He urged privileged Nigerians to emulate the humane disposition of the Benue First Lady, adding that Nigeria would be a better place when concerted efforts are geared towards alleviating poverty in the country as visibly exhibited by the wife of the state governor.
In her speech at both occasions Mrs. Suswam stressed that her passion for the poor and needy in the society prompted her desire to put smiles on the faces of the less- privileged, assuring that she would take the war on poverty to another level when the Sev-Av Agro-Processing Centre SAPC, currently undergoing construction, finally comes on stream.
She stressed that at the completion of the project, the teeming farming populace of the state would enjoy the benefit of processing their farm produces and by so doing check wastages and also generate better income that would improve their livelihood.
The First Lady informed that her foundation has continued to impact positively on the lives of people living with AIDS through the creation of awareness on, and provision of drugs for HIV/AIDS sufferers as well as training home based caregivers.
She added that the life-uplifting activities of her foundation only recently â€œimpelled the empowerment of some people living with HIV/AIDS in Benue and Nasarawa states and the payment of the school fees of some orphans and vulnerable children in the affected states to enable them live self fulfilling livesâ€.
Mrs. Suswam added that with the acquisition of skills as being propagated by her foundation, jobless Nigerians would be in a better stead to confront the challenges posed by the global economic recession.
The First Lady noted that what the Sev-Av Foundation sought to achieve through its programme of action was to empower jobless youths, orphans, the downtrodden and women in order to give them the desired invaluable sense of purpose and direction.
Hear her: â€œWith the acquisition of skills, they can take their future in their own hands and not wait for handoutsâ€.
She added: â€œApart from this project being a capacity building venture with the potential of the beneficiaries becoming wealth creators, they can also become employers of labour, thereby reducing the level of unemployment in our society. This will undoubtedly result in an abatement of crime, youth restiveness and other social vices; consequently, the Benue youth will be in control of their futureâ€.
Mrs. Suswam used the occasion to call on public-spirited individuals to pick up the challenge of impacting positively on the less-privileged and downtrodden in the society asserting that by so doing the world would be a better place for all.
As a show of gratitude for the life- changing opportunity the Sev-Av Foundation bestowed upon them, graduates of the crafts and skills acquisition centres in Gboko and Vandeikya local government areas promised to continually uphold Mrs. Suswam in their daily prayers for the protection, sustenance and upliftment of her family.