By Anino Aganbi
It is not every day you come across people who see the plights of others and come to their aid. Mrs Gbubene Praise Abraham is the president of Women and Youth Empowerment Foundation in Coastal Regin (CROWEF). Being an indigene of Delta State and also a humanitarian with a big heart, she has taken it upon herself to bring comfort to people in the different coastal region. In her chat with Feminista, she tells more.
What brought about the birth of women and youth empowerment foundation in coastal region communities (CROWEF)?
CROWEF was born out of a divine mission and calling by God to reach out to those beyond our waters that have been forgotten, deprived and neglected in the area of development due to the terrain of their location. Even though it has been tasking and challenging, but my anchor rests on the trust I have in God.
What was your aim in running an NGO?
My aim is to alleviate the suffering of most of these vulnerable people. Our primary aim is to reach out to these people as a group so we came up with the name Escravos Ugborodo Women Empowerment Foundation to carry out humanitarian work specifically in Escravos- Ugborodo Communities. Subsequent research and projects implementation in the area caused us to know that the same problems extended to the entire coastal region.
Can you tell us a something on your area of operation?
Oil exploration and mismanagement has brought the people of Niger Delta untold hardship. Lots of people were rendered homeless after the communal clashes between neighboring communities. We have embarked on numerous successful missions into some of these communities. These missions were aimed at the neglected people of the region.
What was your first experience bringing relief to these people?
My first experience was in 2007 when the women were giving a demonstration, complaining that Chevron does not give the indigenes jobs but instead they bring people from afar to work with. There was a demonstration by the women made to chevron where they threatened to go naked. It was at that point I got a call to intercede on behalf on the people. I called the public affairs manager who was able to introduce me to the women. I appealed to the women not to go naked, promising them that I would speak to Chevron Management on their behalf.
How do you bring medical aid to the women and children in these communities?
On getting to these communities, we discovered there were no clinics. Women still delivered the local way through the help of traditional healers. We came up with an arrangement with doctors from Warri and other environs to bring medicine to these regions. Twice every month, we chatter boats to ferry us across the water so these doctors can run tests on these women. We get ophthalmologists to run test on their eyes. These doctors also run various tests varying from breast cancer to diabetics and other ailments.
Apart from giving medical supply, how do you render help to these communities?
We looked at these communities and saw that the level of poverty was appalling. There is barely food for the indigenes to eat. So we took it upon ourselves to gather food stuff from different sponsors and take to them. We will be having a three days mission in these regions starting on the 29th and ending on the 31st of January where we will be given medical checkups and supplying food stuff to the indigenes.
Would it not be easier to empower them instead of just providing food?
We have thought of empowering them but sourcing for funds has not been easy. We have started building a factory for making pure water where indigenes can be employed to run the plant.
Sourcing for funds…..
We have being getting funds from different sponsors. With various projects in mind, we still need to get more funds. We do this by appealing to well meaning Nigerians to give their monetary support no matter how little. This could help in saving the lives of people who have being given no reason to hope for tomorrow.
How do you monitor and evaluate your projects?
Monitoring is indispensable to the successful implementation of projects. It starts from the beginning till the end, places projects on the right tract and exposes the levels of successes and challenges. It also identifies and corrects potential problems on a continuous basis.
Seeking funds from governmental parastatals …
We have done a lot in trying to involve the government in what we do. The government has done so much in developing the urban areas but the rural areas still remain untouched. We pray that with time, the government will see what we are putting in place and give the necessary support to enable us do more for these indigenes in the riverine regions. In the mean time, we have been appealing to well meaning Nigerians to come to the aid of these people.