By Steve Oko
A group known as VONHERA Foundation, has empowered over 1000 widows in Abia State with improved varieties of farm seedlings, cassava stems, corns, fertilizer and other farm inputs ahead of this year’s farming season.
The Foundation also distributed food items, wrappers and other empowerment items to the widows to improve their living standard.
Distributing the items to the mammoth crowd of widows at Ubakala, Umuahia South, Founder of the Foundation, Mrs. Rosemary Asiegbu, said the gesture was borne out of her passion for the widow who are often marginalized and oppressed by society.
She said that initially when she began the project two years ago, she was only giving out food items to the windows but decided to add improved varieties of seedlings and fertilizer to enable them scale up their farming activities for self reliance.
“We were initially giving out food items but discovered that the best would be to empower them with improved seedlings for better yield so they can be self sufficient”, she said.
She encouraged widows to go beyond subsistence farming and embrace commercial farming to cater for their children, saying that farming has become a very lucrative business.
The philanthropist urged widows not to dispair nor resort to immoral living for easy money but to consider useful adventures like farming for survival.
She said her vision was to help in establishing Abia widows so they become the envy of other women instead of living beggarly.
The banker turned farmer called on government to go beyond lip services and meaningfully empower widow “instead of giving them peanuts in the name of empowerment”.
On whether the gesture has political undertones, the former banker said she had no political ambitions but pursuing her calling to better the lot of widows.
Some of the beneficiaries – 40-year old Mercy Ochonma; and Margret Meribe, thanked Asiegbu for the gesture, saying she has remained a source of encouragement to widows.
They confessed that the cassava stems they received last year had great yield, expressing hope that their farming activities will improve.
Speaking earlier, Chairman of the event, Chief Tony Ukasanya, commended the benefactor for her empathy for widows and urged her to sustain the gesture.
Chief Ukasanya urged the beneficiaries to reciprocate the gesture by mobilising to the farm and be part of solution to Nigeria’s food challenge.
The event also featured health talks by medical experts, training on basic farming techniques and nutrition.