CAFÉ, Touching Life in Several Ways
The wife of the governor of Anambra State, Chief (Mrs.) EbelechukwuObiano
Is the founder of the Caring Family Enhancement
initiative (CAFÉ), a non-profit, non-partisan pet project which has
the mandate to care for the less privileged and reduce women-child
vulnerability while maintaining the dignity of the physically
challenged people among other programmes.
As part of the empowerment programmes she recently trained 272 persons in various fields and presented equipments and take-off grants to them as part of her husband's One-year in office activities. They include:
• Community Health Workers = 92
• Hair Dressing and Beauty Therapy = 62
• Confectionaries = 52
• Soap Making = 41
• Tailoring = 26
Total= 272 persons
Barely one year after, Mrs.Obiano has traversed all corners of Anambra State in keeping with her promise to be the voice of women beside her husband as well as providingsuccour to the downtrodden. Projects undertaken by CAFÉ within the period include:
1. Maternal and Child Healthcare/Primary Healthcare (MCH/PHC)
One of the take-off activities of CAFÉ was an assessment visit to Maternal and Child Health (MCH) and Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) in the state. Through CAFÉ, Mrs.Obiano initiated programmes to improve the availability and access to quality, preventive and primary health care for all children as well as reproductive health care for women. She also engaged in enlightenment and advocacy campaign during visits to interior communities to promote maternal and child healtheducation to encourage reduction in child and maternal mortality rate especially in the remote communities.
CAFÉ becameMrs.Obiano's pedestal for steadfast campaign, support and encouragement of pregnant women to attend regular Ante-Natal Clinics (ANC). In most of the community stops during the advocacy and enlightenment tour, she educated the expectant mothers how anti-natal observances would improve their health and that of their unborn babies and also check the incidence of children born with deformities and physically challenged children in the society.
To alleviate their suffering and put smile on the faces of the women, the Governor's wifepresented the women with basic ANC needs such as clothing materials, delivery packs and cash allowances to 20 women in each MCH in the state.Mrs.Obianoalso took note of the equipment needs of both the maternal child health and public health centresvisited, promising to draw the attention of relevant health authorities and the government to their needs.
Motorised Delivery Bikes
Interestingly it was during the tour that Mrs.Obiano came to appreciate the difficulties of managing women in labour within the remote communities. Worried by their challenges, Mrs.Obianotook a firm decision to alleviate their suffering and thereby reduce mortality at birth by ensuring that local midwives are trained to manage child delivery in emergency situations, and eventually get mother and child ready for attention by experts in nearby health centres.
Thus mindful of the health needs of the women,shesponsored the fabrication of motorised bikes with baby cot to be used by local midwives who are equipped with telephone to enable the rural dwellers have access to medical assistance in emergency situations.The first batch of the customised bikes have been procured by CAFÉ,while training of the midwives is underway pending deployment to designated communities.
2. Donation of Delivery Beds to PHCs
Infulfilment of promisesmade when she touredPHC, Mrs.Obiano donated modern delivery beds to some PHCson February 5, this year. Beneficiaries wereEziowelle Health Centre in Idemili North Local Government Area and Otuocha Primary Health Centre in Anambra East Local Government Area.
While making the presentations atEziowelle and Otuocha, Mrs.Obiano said that she merely came to fulfil a promise. “I remember that when I came sometime in September 2014, one of your complaints that touched me most was that your facilities had gone bad such that you had resorted to delivery of babies on a bench. It touched me because I felt that should not be happening in this century especially in our state. That is why I promised you a bed and went ahead to procure a standard delivery bed. I am sure it will go a long way in ensuring safe delivery by women in this centre.”
Mrs.Obiano told the women at Eziowelle and Otuocha Health centres, that she is always touched by things concerning the welfare of children and women, hence she had to intervene through the CAFÉ. She explained that gift of the delivery bed for care of women in labour is one way of making sure that mother and child are protected at birth. She further said that CAFÉ would make suggestions, and contribute to ensuring that such beds become the minimum standard for most centres in the state.
The power-driven delivery bed is designed to provide support for the mother and efficient functionality for the nursing staff, throughout all stages of child delivery. Its flexibility and ease of use offers a practical solution for any modern, progressive delivery ward. The bed can be powered with electricity to gain height and it has backrest adjustment which provides support for mother during labour. It is a standard bed that offers versatile delivery platform with leg rest, while it is flexible and easy to use.
3. Rehabilitation of Basden Memorial Special Education Centre, Isulo
Mrs.Obiano undoubtedly lives up to the immortal words of blessed Mother Theresa: “Give, but give until it hurts.” Her intervention and rehabilitation of Basden Memorial Special Education Centre,Isulo, Orumba South Local Government Area echoes the fact that true charity is evident in “giving the love we have all received to those around us.”
Hearing Mrs.Obiano recall her inspiration to “reach out and touch” the Basden community of the physically challenged, visually impaired and deaf and dumb students is always a harrowing tale of lack and deprivation of a group whose misfortune of mere physical limitations became their albatross until she arrived the school at Isulo one fateful day in February 2014.
Chief (Mrs.) Obiano made a surprise visit to Basden, intent to confirm what she heard and was shocked beyond words at the deplorable condition of the facilities in the school. The library, dormitories, restrooms and classrooms were in abysmal neglect and squalor with the students living like animals. In her words: "It is sad and unfortunate that the school could not get the attention of the good people of Anambra State. They are human beings like us and cannot be subjected to this inhuman and dehumanising situation.''
Rather than just lamenting, Mrs.Obiano showered these rejected ones love and care. She donated food items, including bags of rice, beans, oil, tomatoes, food condiments, live cow, toiletries and money while promising to change the school and the children's condition. She immediately arranged for the deployment of some staff to the school, and put them on her pay roll. She also supplied food items to the school monthly. Next, she initiated a borehole project which was constructed within weeks to ensure that the children had portable water.
Mrs.Obiano's visit in less than six months reinvigorated both the school structure and the lives of physically challenged children who had been abandoned to their fate. The feeding allowance of the pupil has been increased from less than N5 a day per a child to three square meals; dilapidated structures were refurbished with dormitories, class-rooms, and toilets all renovated alongside new structures.
To ensure its accreditation as a secondary school, CAFÉ liaised with the Ministry of Education to ensure that Basden is staffed with qualified teachers. All these were achieved by the wife of the governor with personal funds and donations from men and women of goodwill in the state who were drawn to Mrs.Obiano's charitable works. Thus in support of his wife's efforts,Governor Obianoawarded the school children automatic scholarships.
Indeed, BasdenIsulo is a bold statement for the works of CAFÉ and the genuine commitment to giving meaning to the lives of the disadvantaged.
Support for other Special Education Centres
The wife of the Governor has also taken her gospel of care to other special education centres in the state. At each location,Mrs.Obianowould take assessment of the immediate needs of the children and thereafter initiated rehabilitation work to change the status of the children and their environment.
Mrs.Obiano also extended both material and financial support to the Special Education Centre,Umuchu which harbours the physically and mentally challenged children, as well as the Special School for the Deaf and Dumb located at Odoakpu, Onitsha. The common problem in most of the schools are dilapidated buildings, lack of quality teachers and care givers, lack of water and feeding, as well as absence of basic vocational tools.
However, following Her Excellency's visit, the fortune of the students has changed for the better. They now have regular supply of food. Items such as tomato puree, salt, beans, rice and oil and cash gift were donated to them. In addition, the environment of learning is undergoing massive overhaul with new classroom blocks being added to the existing ones. A caring mother, Mrs.Obiano's drive to make the world a better place for the less privileged is unrivalled.
4. Women Empowerment
Mrs.Obiano's commitment to uplifting the fortune of women at all levels is very well known across the state. She has devoted the CAFÉ platform to providingdistressed women with immediate relief from hunger. It is against this background that Mrs.Obiano embarked on 2014 Economic Empowerment tour of the Local Government areas.
During the tour Mrs.Obiano interacted with about 2,800 and 35 indigent people, and 1,890 widows. She provided materials to empower945 skilled and 567 unskilled persons. For those engaged in farming, Mrs.Obiano distributed 55,000 bags of fertiliser and treated seedlings for improved yield. Others received food items, including 50,000 bags of beans and rice, 20,000 bags of maize and 15,000 cartons of milk.
The tour, which took place in August 2014 during the popular August Meeting for Women,enabled Mrs.Obianoto meet and interact with Anambra women in the LGAs. Under the auspices of CAFÉ, she distributed food and various empowerment items to the physically-challenged, orphans and widows. She called on rural women to form co-operative societies that would enable them access micro credit to boost their petty businesses as part of the government's poverty eradication programme.
Mrs.Obiano assured the women that the administration of her husband is committed to improving the living standards of the people, adding that the economic empowerment tour is aimed at assisting several women at the grassroots with little finance, to either start or boost their various businesses.
Through CAFÉ, Osodiemeprovides skills acquisition training in fashion design, soap making and community health services for rural women and young girls who are ready to scrap a living via the acquired skill. Her community health service training programme is to promote the use of health services in the interiors and also educate the rural women on the need to seek medical service and desist from patronising quacks.
Some of the skills acquisition programmes include:
• Tailoring and Fashion Design
• Tie and Dye
• Hair Dressing and Beauty Therapy
• Soap making
• Community Health Services
5. Mrs.Obiano puts smile on faces of children, adults with cleft lip
The humane nature of the Governor's wife has continued to resonate in her official activities as the founder and initiator of CAFÉ. It is in furtherance of the CAFÉ agenda thatMrs.Obiano, in collaboration with the Smile Train Nigeria, sponsored free cleft lip surgeries for 100 children and adults born with congenital abnormality of cleft palate and cleft lips.
The free surgeries, which are still on-going at the NnamdiAzikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH) Nnewi,isto correct the abnormality and bring life time joy to the children. The cleft lip palate, said to be prevalent in Nigeria, is a congenital abnormality that leaves a child deformed on the lips and mouth resulting in a child not feeding well or not speaking properly.
Receiving the Chief Medical Director of the teaching hospital, Professor Anthony Igwegbe and delegates from the Smile Train Nigeria, led by Ms. Victoria Awazie,on a courtesy visit to her office in Awka recently, Mrs.Obiano assured the team of continued partnership on the project. She expressed immense gratitude to the teaching hospital and Smile Train Nigeria, stressing that the partnership has made it possible for the successful corrective surgeries performed on the patients, which, according to her, has shown love and brought smile back on the faces of the children and adults.
Mrs.Obiano assured that CAFÉ would work to ensure that more children take advantage of the corrective surgery, adding that children of less privileged are often the most affected by the abnormality.
Professor Igwegbe commended Governor Obiano and his wife for their concern to improve the lots of people, including the provision of a 15 KVA generating set on an occasion when both visited the hospital to see accident victims.
Professor Igwegbealsocommended the state government for its quick response to health issues, while appealing for sustenance of the tempo.
Ms. Awazie said the visit to the First Lady was to explore ways for partnering with the government, pointing out that the activities involve huge capital outlay.
6. CAFÉ Sponsors Prosthetic Limb Fittings for the physically-challenged.
The joy of the physically challenged in Anambra State knew no bounds during the Christmas 2015 when Chief (Mrs.) Obiano sponsored the presentation of prosthetic limbs to 270 beneficiaries through her pet project, CAFÉ at the Women Development Centre Awka.
The flag-off was performed by GovernorObiano as part of the first phase of the 1,000 Prosthetic Limbs Fittings earmarked for the physically-challenged persons in the state. The limbs fittings gesture was a partnership initiated by CAFÉ with consumable goods distribution giant, Tolaram Foundation of India, and sponsored by the Rotary Foundation of Victoria Garden City, Lagos. Also under the second phase, 180 others were recently measured on February 24 – 26, 2015 at Women Development Centre for the limb fittings which is now being produced to specifications to be fitted later.
At that occasion, Governor Obiano expressed delight with the tripartite partnership which is “essentially to reach out in special ways to our brothers and sisters who need to be empowered.”While thanking Tolaram Foundation and Rotary International for the sponsorship, the Governor said that CAFÉ is committed to making life worth living for the physically challenged and making those people proud. He promised to increase the gesture by making more prosthetic limbs available to others with such needs in the state.
The Governor, who had wished that his wife and founder of CAFÉ who travelled on official assignment Nigeria's First Lady, was present, appreciated the fact that the CAFÉ projects have made his wife to toil day and night “to add value to the lives of special members of the human community.” Governor Obiano stated that few months after the launch of CAFÉ, the pet project underscoredMrs.Obiano's passion, “commitment and bold effort at giving meaning to the lives of the dispossessed and disadvantaged.”
Also, the Hon Commissioner for Health, Dr. Joe Akabuike said that government's intervention in the health sector is benefitting from the programmes of CAFÉ which reaches out to the less privileged and people inaccessible areas. He also observed that many organisations are identifying with the initiative and ready to partner with the governor's wife.
The Head of Tolaram Foundation, Ms.MehaMehra said that NGOis committed to producing more quality prosthetic limbs to meet the needs of the beneficiaries, sponsors, CAFÉ and government partners.
In his goodwill message, President of Rotary Club of Victoria Garden City, Lagos, Sir Dr. Chris Anyakorah said that the club would make available 300 more prosthetic limbs to the state early to keep smiles on the faces of the needy.
Mr. Benson Igbokwe, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries, expressed happiness for the gesture and thanked the wife of the governor and CAFÉ for choosing to be part of what he described as a wonderful Christmas gift to the physically challenged persons in the state.
7. Care for the Mentally Challenged
Care for the mentally challenged is another programme initiated by CAFÉ which is being implemented through the Ministry for Women Affairs to improve the sanity of mentally challenged persons, especially those who roam the streets. Under the programme, the drifters are rescued and kept at a facility in Nteje, Oyi Local Government Area where they are provided with psychiatric care thereby ensuring the maintenance of clean and healthy environment as well as healthy citizens across Anambra State.
8. Motherless Babies Home
Chief (Mrs.) Obiano's capacity to make a difference in the lives of Anambra women and children extends to the motherless. Through CAFÉ, she has given hope to so many abandoned babies in the state, some of whom she personally picked up in the streets and handed over to orphanages. She had visited almost all motherless baby homes in the state.
During the visits, Osodiemedistributed various items for the upkeep of the homes. These included cartons of NAN milk; bags of pampers, toiletries, children's wears, groundnut oil, bags of rice, bags of beans, cartons of tomato puree, andcash. She was impressed with the management of one of the homes manned by the Sisters of Mother Theresa, a missionary home. And she rewarded them with additional gift of aelectricity generating set.
9.Celebrating with the physically challenged
Every year, Mrs.Obiano's birthday celebration is never complete without her spending some time with the less privileged. She set aside Sunday, October 19, 2014 for a special party with this group of people who are very dear to her heart. It was fun all the way for the handicapped and the physically challenged that thronged the Governors' Lodge,Amawbia that fateful evening on a special invitation to mark the birthday of the wife of the Governor.
When the celebrant and hostess Chief (Mrs.) Obianowalked into the arena, she was literarily mobbed by ecstatic pupils and students as she mingled with them receiving greetings and adulation from both young and old in the arena.Thereafter the arena erupted in colourful gyration as the pupils and students joined the celebrant on the dance floor in a mood befitting the occasion.
Mrs.Obiano said that the party was a gesture to give her guests a sense of belonging, adding that nothing compared to the fulfilment she gets from putting smiles on the faces of the less privileged in the society. According to her, “there is not much different between us all. I call on Ndi Anambra, especially the wealthy to help out. Together with my pet project, the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ) we can collaborate to assist the needy in our society.”
It is heartening to note that the wife of the Governor undertakes these programmes without a dedicated budget but through the help, support and sponsorship of well-meaning Ndi Anambra, friends and well-wishers. Let's harken to her call for support. Let our contributionsassist in saving a life or empowering someone to earn a living. That way we would have helped in sustaining CAFÉ as it continues to touch lives in several ways.