By Emmanuel Aziken
Now resettled in an upscale section of Abuja, Mrs. Yemisi Adeyemi could well have forgotten or chosen to ignore the image of the suffering widows she regularly encountered in Ilorin, Kwara State not too long ago. But she didn’t. Mrs. Adeyemi through her Mannah Dew Charity Foundation earlier this month presented deep freezers and grinding machines to 45 widows in Ilorin, as her own contribution towards ameliorating the pains of the widows.
“I have watched people gather widows and give them maybe two bowls of rice this Christmas and next Christmas they again invite them. But I have had this worry that what will they eat between Christmas. So, it has been my calling to empower widows in the very little way we can and with God on our side, we will make it.”
By empowering the widows with economic potentials, Adeyemi claimed the women are able to boost even if minimally their finances in a way to help look after their children.“They use the deep freezers to sell ice blocks, they make kunu, zobo, they sell cold drinks, fish and so on.
“By empowering them, we know we are giving them economic bases for improving their per capita income. Then they have a sense of belonging in society because we recognize that government cannot do everything and that is why we are there. Corporate bodies and individuals who are led to do such things should do so. And now, they can feed themselves, provide school fees and housing for themselves,” she added.
Until recently when she joined her husband, Senator Smart Adeyemi in Abuja, Mrs. Adeyemi had been directly involved in running two major hotels and other business interests of her family located in the Kwara State capital.What is her expectation from government?
“Government has a role to play but I feel government cannot do everything. Government cannot do everything for widows in particular. But if they can provide employment for their children, that would be welcomed as the children can take care of their mothers.”
Remarkably, Mrs. Adeyemi’s interest in the widows is not limited to the handouts. Through her foundation she has also taken interest in sharpening the women for integration into society.
Monthly, she said the 45 widows in her list are gathered and addressed on the challenges of life and widowhood. The women are also counseled according to their religious inclinations as the foundation is run as a non religious body.
So, does she encourage the young widows to remarry?
“We preach that. I have somebody who comes to counsel them. We do that every month, last Saturday of the month in Ilorin. We counsel them that it is better to marry than to burn or fornicate. Some will weep through out the programme, some are confused. We group them according to their religions and people pray for them,” she said.
Senator Adeyemi who the wife praised for his full financial backing said the vision for the programme was wholly that of his wife even as he joined his wife in calling on other financially endowed citizens to help out.
Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Fadipo Bolade praised Mrs. Adeyemi’s gesture which she said would help in addressing their immediate if not long term needs. According to her, the assistance from the foundation has helped many of them in addressing their felt needs.