…Marks 50th birthday with children of imprisoned mothers
By Clifford Ndujihe
BUSINESSMAN and a chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Emeka Okonkwo, has urged the elite and privileged Nigerians to cater for the needs of the less privileged in the country, especially abandoned children and orphans.
Nigeria’s current population figure is estimated at 193 million by the National Population Commission, NPC and National Bureau of Statistics, NBS while the United Nations, UN puts it at 187 million. About 42.79 percent or 80.75million of this population are children of zero to 14 years.
Of this figure, 10.5 million, the highest in the world are out of school while no fewer than 27.5 million are orphans and vulnerable children, OVC.
According to Chief Okonkwo, the CEO of Great Source Group and Editor-in-Chief of Anambra Compendium, the country might be heading into a problematic future with such number of children uncared for.
To secure the future of these children, Chief Okonkwo has asked prominent Nigerians to do the needful. On his part, he hosted a Charity Ball in support of children of imprisoned mothers as part of his 50th birthday celebration, last weekend.
Thus, it was an early Christmas for the children of the Victorine Home for Children, Gwarinpa, Abuja, whose honour the event was held to raise money for their upkeep.
Dignitaries at the ceremony held at the Rabby Recreational Park, Life Camp, Abuja, included Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke, who led the Anambra State delegation, which included the Secretary to the State government, Professor Solo Chukwudobelu, and Chief Chido Obidiegwu (SSA Events to governor Willie Obiano) among others.
This golden birthday celebration was initiated to not only be a vehicle for Okonkwo’s philanthropic gestures of donating to the upkeep of children of the Victorine Home and other orphanages, but this time around, he decided to organise an elaborate party with the aim of projecting the institute by utilising his social and business network to pull together over 400 friends and associates to identify with the Home
The Victorine Home For Children, is a special foster home established by the Catholic Sisters of Jesus the Redeemer Congregation and their associates, to care for the children of imprisoned mothers, the insane, abandoned babies, orphans and children going through difficulties.
Sister Bridget Obiekwe, one of the administrators of the home, said the home was delighted when Chief Okonkwo decided to host his birthday with the interest of the indigent children of the institute at heart.
She said the place is ‘’a foster home for children going through difficulties, such as children of prison inmates, children of insane women on the streets, who obviously cannot take care of their children in such conditions and other abandoned children and orphans who have nobody to care for them. We take care of them and ensure they go to school. When they get to the secondary school age, we move them to boarding schools and continue to take care of them until they are reunited with their mothers after their prison terms. And in a case of a life imprisonment, they are reunited with a willing next of kin of their mother. We only take these children from the prison with the consent of their mothers.”
Speaking at the event, Okonkwo, who said that God has been so gracious to him, appealed to all invited guests to convert whatever birthday gifts intended for him to cash and cheque for the children home.
On why he chose to focus his 50th birthday celebration on the benefit of the needy children, he said: “Although I have always lived a life of giving, but at this age, more than ever before, I have come to realise that service to humanity is the purpose of life and living. I believe that people should give wholeheartedly to the uplifting of humanity. God has been gracious to me and has given me a lot of opportunities, now it’s time for me to give back.
“The thought to celebrate with the children of Victorine Home came to my mind back in August when I went to Canada to spend some time with my children, who are schooling there. As we were having a nice family time together, I felt some kind of emptiness seeing the kind of opportunities that my children enjoyed compared to these indigent children, who have nobody apart from Sisters of Jesus the Redeemer Congregation, who are putting all they have to care for them.
So, I decided to have a special event where I will bring my influential friends to join hands with me to not only bring smiles to the faces of these children but also invest in their education and better life.
“Asking my friends and associates to channel whatever birthday gift they had intended for me to the benefit of these children doesn’t mean that all my desires are met but I believe the gifts would add more value to the lives of the children than mine and the prayers of these children for the donors would be more beneficial than the mere “thank you” they would have received from me. This will signpost what the future holds for me – living a life of sacrifice and giving.”
The Anambra State Deputy Governor, Dr. Okeke, commended Chief Okonkwo for this exemplary charity gesture. “We are here to celebrate a man that believes in humanity, a man that l ikes to touch lives positively. A man that exudes optimism. He gives and gives. And I tell people that the race for heaven is here on earth. It is here you show your passion for humanity, it is here you show love to your fellow man, especially the downtrodden. So, we have to encourage Emeka to continue doing the good work”