By EBUN SESSOU
The world of widows is not something to envy. They are no longer seen as important people in the society. They are mocked and full of agony . And apart from the untold hardship inflicted upon them by the society in which they belong, their husbands’ relatives also stand as hindrances on their ways.
One of these people is Mopelola Eke, 40 years old, who hails from Ondo State who lost her husband in 2006. Relating her story to Saturday Vanguard, she said, since her husband’s death, life has been miserable for her and her six children.
“I lost my husband five years ago and since then, life has been hectic for me and my family. We have been feeding from hand to mouth.
“My husband was a former employee of Nigerian Ports Authority, Apapa. He had chronic typhoid which led to his death. He was sick for one and half years before he died in 2006.
“Since then, his family members have denied me access to them. My children have been rejected by their father’s relatives. They are not ready to take care of my children. I have six children for him, five females and one male.”
Asked why her husband’s relatives have abandoned her and her children, she said, “ I don’t know why they didn’t respond to my call. There are times where my children asked after their father’s family and unfortunately, no one has come to their rescue. They have been making promises that have never come to reality.”
Lamenting her world, she said, “it is not an interesting one. I wouldn’t pray for my enemy to be a widow. Being a widow makes you feel as if the world has turned against you.
There is no help coming from anywhere except God. Feeding is also very difficult and we are more like beggars on the street. The only way of survival is for me and my children to hawk sachet water on the streets just to make ends meet. Right now, I am indebted to my landlord with two years rent.”
Looking back, she recalled that her marriage was fruitful when her husband was alive but his death has brought unprecedented hardship upon her and her children. Right now, the eldest of the children is just 17 years.
To help minimise her pains, she came to Oasis Women Empowerment which is running programmes to encourage widows.
“I was watching a TV programme where Erelu Mojisola Adams was talking about the empowerment programme. I called her number and she responded. She called me after some weeks to notify me about the programme and fortunately, I am one of the beneficiaries.”
‘My husband is dead, my son, a cripple’
Mrs Bolaji Disu, 53 ,from Ogbaja Akoko, in Arigidi local government area of Ondo State is another widow who shares her painful story with Saturday Vanguard.
“I have been a widow since December 12, 2006. In December 2002, my son of 21 years, the only bread winner in the house, went to work and was knocked down by a motorcycle and then crushed by a trailer. In the process, his spinal cord was damaged and since then, life has been terrible.
“There is nobody to help. I’ve been in debt because nobody is ready to help. The only bread winner in the family is on a wheelchair. I have been passing through hell just to cater for these children especially my son who is now permanently on wheelchair.
Right, we have stopped treatment on him because there is no money. We have spent over a million naira on him because his spinal cord has been badly damaged. He is 30 years now.
Since the incident, things have been so difficult. My husband died of diabetes three years ago. Since then, I have been passing through series of hardship with my husband’s family. There is no money for food and none of my husband’s relatives is ready to help.”
Lamenting the ordeal that widows pass through, she said, “It is a bad thing to be a widow. We have been called different kind of names. Some people call us beggars. There is no day I don’t cry because there is no amount of money I realise that can meet up with my demands. I pay school fees, house rent and feeding is always very tough. I have been battling a particular health problem which has added to my problems”.
NGO calls for support for widows
Erelu Mojisola Adams has taken up the fight against the plight widows. She founded Oasis Women Organisation, OWOG, to evaluate, encourage, support and address issues, stability and peace of women especially widows.
Speaking during the 4th annual anniversary of Oasis Women Organisation, OWOG, recently where 35 widows were empowered she emphasised that women’s roles as goddesses of peace and mothers of nations should be tactically approached as women are made with double strength of a man.
Calling on widows to see themselves as vessels that must be respected in the society, she said if women are given the chance to exhibit their talents for social development, they will create more impact in Nigeria, adding that such opportunity can be achieved in a society where there is equal right for all.
Her words: “ The agitation for equality is not based on our zeal to control the home but to be given the right environment to exhibit our potentials. We want to be measured by our brain, blood and wisdom which are not different from those possessed by men.
We do not want to be placed in positions because of our sex but because of our intellectual quality. Through this, widows in our society will be free from intimidation and harassment.”
Speaking on the impact of women in the society, she said, “there are female surgeons, doctors, journalists, writers among whom we have Nobel Prize winners.
We also have female astrologists and we have female chartered accountants. It is the time for Nigerians to honour women in Nigerian currency without being paired with other male portraits,” adding that there are great women in the history of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Former President Nigerian Union of Journalist, NUJ, Olufunke Fadugba, Executive Director Media Ethics Organisation said. “The role of the women as moulders of the family is so important and a failure in this aspect has been attributed to the level of moral decadence, violence and corruption in society.”
Also, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, president of Women Arise, encouraged women to educate and equip themselves with adequate tools that would help in reshaping the society.
Former member of Lagos State House of Assembly, Honourable Risikat Adegeye said widows should not see themselves as irrelevant in the society.
The widows were given 35 grinding machines and N50, 000 each.