Since initiating its annual medical in Iwereland (Itsekiri), the Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Incorporated has continued to make impact.
In the 2017 outing, the assembly of Itsekiri natives in the US provided over 3,000 persons free eye care involving cataract surgeries in a gesture that began at Ode-Itsekiri, the Itsekiri ancestral home, and continued at Ekurede Itsekiri, both in Warri South council area of Delta State.
Kingsley Onuwaje, President of the group, said at the occasion, “We are partnering with the African Cataract Foundation, headed by Dr. Okorodudu, whose philosophy is ‘no one is turned away. Eyesight has been priority to us as it gives the individual a window into the world.
“We are going into partnership in other projects to improve lives in our kingdom. What we try to do is reach out to people who can’t afford surgery to regain their sight. Some of the beneficiaries may not need surgery; we give people in that category glasses.
“Our primary target is Itsekiri, but you can see our Urhobo, Ijaw and Isoko brothers coming to be part of it. Many thanks to Dr. Okorodudu whose magnanimity has touched the beneficiaries”.
To Okorodudu, founder, Africa Cateract Foundation, the greater dedication is to reach out to predominantly indigent rural dwellers.
“I live in Benin City but I am from Delta. My main target is the people of Niger Delta area, particularly my Itsekiri kinsmen”, he said.
“Basically, if Ugbajo say they will do treatment for 100, I tend to do 200, meaning that my foundation has added 100 to the gesture.. When they do 50, I mean in terms of funding, my foundation adds 50. This time, I am doing another 90 to celebrate my mum’s 90th birthday.
“I have never seen as many cataract as I have seen this year, but am glad they are my people. Government cannot do everything. A citizen can come up to support government, so we will do all the cases that require surgery. I have a policy, nobody should be turned back. If anyone is able to get here, try and see them and give them their treatment” .
Beyond free eye care, Ugbajo Itsekiri USA Incorporated is touching lives in diverse other ways. Onuwaje said, “Ugbajo Itsekiri has been in existence for more than 20 years. Medical outreach is not only our mandate. We are also concerned about education. In this year’s outing, we had a town hall session at Warri Club for scholarship usually to 14 Itsekiris every year. We train them through university.
“A couple of years ago, we embarked on water projects in villages. We spent over 100, 000 ollars on that. At least five villages got borehole water. We are also into micro finance to improve lives”
An elated Isoko lady, whose dad regained his eyesight in this year’s outing, said, “My father had almost gone blind as we couldn’t afford treatment. Then I heard the radio jingle in Isoko where we live, so we had to rush here. My father’s sight is fully restored. We thank these good people God is using to bring happiness to our lives.”