By Chidi Nkwopara, OWERRI
Late highlife music legend, Chief Oliver Akanite alias Oliver De Coque, once reminded music lovers that “making money is one thing, and having the love to share your earnings with people, is a different ball game.”
What has been happening in Amuzi, Ahiazu Mbaise Local Council Area of Imo State, particularly in the family of the late royal father of Amuzi autonomous community, Eze Cletus Oparaoji and his wife, Dorothy, has obviously proved the musician right!
This renowned traditional ruler and his wife, started what he called Amuzi Scholarship Scheme in 1990, and also served as Board Chairman of the scheme for seven years before he died.
After his death in 1997, his children, Professor Viola Onwuliri, Professor Edward Oparaoji and others, changed the name of the scheme to Eze Cletus and Ugoeze Dorothy Oparaoji Memorial Educational Foundation, ECUDOMEF.
After the royal father’s death, and because of the huge impact the project was having in the community, his in-law and former Vice-Chancellor of Federal University of Technology, Owerri, FUTO, Professor Celestine O. E. Onwuliri, took over as Board Chairman.
The Board chair returned to Professor Viola Adaku Onwuliri, on the death of her husband, in the Dana Air crash in Lagos.
Getting any of the Oparaojis to talk about the activities of the Foundation, was a herculean task. They loved doing their things silently, but the beneficiaries of their benevolence turned out to be the purveyors of the news.
December 31, 2018, was another medical outreach programme organised by the family and this reporter was at St. Jude’s Catholic Church, Amuzi, Mbaise, to see things for himself.
Giving a graphic account of what the Foundation has been trying to achieve in the area, Professor Edward Oparaoji told South-East Voice, SEV that “it is targeted to serve the unmet educational and healthcare needs of the underprivileged people in the community.”
SEV equally gathered from Oparaoji that since the inception of the programme, no fewer than 350 scholarships have been awarded and over N50 million invested in the scheme.
Answering a question, Professor Oparaoji said that there are other components of the 28-year-old project.
“They include yearly free medical outreach and widows support programme. While over 30,000 patients have received free medical consultation and treatment, the Foundation has spent over N95 million in this regard,” Oparaoji said.
Addressing the issue of widows, Professor Oparaoji said that over 500 indigent widows have been supported with food, clothing and homes, with over N32 million invested.
Speaking specifically on the Foundation’s interest in women, Professor Viola Onwuliri said that “other components of ECUDOMEF includes Professor Celestine Onwuliri Foundation, Widows Welfare Mission, Widows and Orphans Consultative Initiative and Women Development and Community Health Projects.”
Some of the highlights of the event were the distribution of wrappers and bags of rice to widows, distribution of textbooks and exercise books to all the children present, as well as cash to the beneficiaries of the Foundation’s Scholarship Scheme.