By Ike Uchechukwu ,Calabar
About 200 refugees living in Cross River have been trained on various vocational skills by the Community Refugee Relief Initiative, CRRI in Calabar, Ogoja, and Ikom.
Vanguard learned that they were trained by different professionals on various skills including ICT, aluminum work, tailoring and fashion design, pastries, and cake making amongst others.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony at the weekend at the ICT career empowerment centre in Agagom, Ogoja, the Chairman, Board of Directors, CRRI, Dr. Celestine Atangcho stated that the crisis will surely come to an end and people will go back home, but the essence of empowering them through various skills acquisition programs was to ensure they can take care of themselves independently.
He said the various training was to equip them with the skills that can help them feed their families before and after the crisis.
According to Atangcho, there were a lot of bright and industrious young people who were just languishing at various locations because they left their comfort zones and businesses abruptly and cannot continue their former trade here in Nigeria.
His words:” There are many of the Cameroonians who were gainfully employed or working for themselves before the crisis started about 5 years ago, many of such persons may not have the opportunity to go back to the same business again while some would.
” But in the interim, we feel it is pertinent for them to gain knowledge in other files which will become useful to them both here in Nigeria and also when they get home after the crisis.
“A lot of these refugees have been involved in livelihood programmes. Today, some students, trainees who have completed their livelihood programmes have graduated and we will support them in the little way we can.
” So on a brighter side, we’re hopeful that with the skills that they’ve acquired, they’ll be able to fend for themselves, feed themselves, feed their families and we’re hoping that we will continue with that kind of empowerment programmes.
” So that is one area that we’re very happy that it’s happening today with these trainees graduating from Calabar, Ikom, Ogoja and hopefully in a few months to come, we’re going to go to Taraba to do the same exercise there.
“One year ago, I was talking to you, we were launching the center, and today, we’re happy to know that a few refugees have gone through that training and their lives, hopefully, will never be the same.
“We are trying to open up some workshop so that they will go in and get busy and hopefully attract some revenue to sustain themselves and hopefully that workshop will serve as a future training ground for more refugees so that is the plan going forward. We’re just praying that we have the resources to follow through.
Speaking earlier in Calabar, Administrative Assistant of CRRI in Nigeria, Mr. Allan Agbor said the training was a continuous process as various trainees come in batches and different phases too with ICT, barbing, Aluminum works, catering, pastry, and cake baking amongst others.
“We are here today at the Calabar office at Caritas to graduate the students that we’ve trained in various vocational areas here in Calabar precisely tailoring, hairdressing, barbing and some persons are still continuing their training.
Agbor said:” Over 180 persons took part in various training from different fields, we have 38 persons from the fields of tailoring, hairdressing,
“Over 156 persons in ICT, Furniture, and glassworks here in Calabar, as well as motor mechanics and they, would be put into workshops fully equipped workshops sponsored by CRRI where they will practice as business persons operating the place and they will also be like coaches to train subsequent batches of trainees.
“Also, we have a monitoring team to take make sure they become resourceful, besides the coordinator for CRRI here in Calabar, we have selected persons who go round to ensure they are useful and effective at their job.
On his part, Mr. Ojong Samuel who spoke on behalf of the refugees, lauded CRRI for their magnanimity describing the training as a life transforming experience.
” We are very excited and elated about this huge gesture by CRRI, it’s not an everyday thing, and we don’t take it for granted, we really want to commend the entire CRRI team , especially Dr. Celestine Atangcho for his big heart .
” As for me, I used to be a driver while in Cameroon, but I can no longer do that here with ease unless I have my own vehicle, but with my training in glass and Aluminum works, I can train my six children and pay my bills,” he said.