Chief (Mrs.) Ebelechukwu Obiano Touching Lives Where it Matters

By Emeka Ozumba
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The art of giving and sharing of goodwill, captured in the Igbo saying that “nma nma n’ezu ora”- which literally means goodwill traverses the community - may have found good expression in the way the wife of the governor of Anambra State, Chief (Mrs.) Ebelechukwu Obiano, carries on with charitable courses.

When she was asked to choose a pet project through which she can support the work of her husband, Chief Willie Obiano, the governor of Anambra State, Osodieme as she is fondly referred to in her traditional title, had no hesitation. She merely activated her passion for supporting and empowering women, especially widows, youths and the indigent members of the society.

In August 2014 she set up the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ), a non-governmental, nonpartisan organization as a beacon of hope and sustainable empowerment for women and the less privileged, thereby keeping her promise to be the voice of women beside her husband by providing succor to the needy as well as indigent widows and rural women across the177 communities of Anambra state.

It is worth mentioning that the art of giving had been second nature to Mrs. Obiano long before her husband became governor. In fact her undiluted love for charity is a passion she shares with her husband, Willie. The couple is well known for their numerous philanthropic interventions, and they have been honoured for selfless services and commitment to charity wherever they sojourned.

It is therefore no surprise that Mrs. Obiano’s choice NGO CAFÉ, aligns with the Blessed Mother Theresa’s credo of “Give, but give until it hurts.” Simply put, since CAFÉ came on stream what was once a quiet way of life for Osodieme has captured the imagination of many in Anambra State and redefined public perception of the strategic role of First Ladies alongside their husband’s pre-eminent role as governors of a state.

As the fulcrum of Mrs. Obiano’s many acts of charity in almost two years, CAFE makes strategic interventions in the lives of vulnerable members of the society like indigent widows, women, youth, children, as well as the mentally and the physically challenged. So far, Mrs. Obiano has set very high standards with CAFÉ projects in parts of Anambra State. Some of the projects undertaken so far include;

The flag-ship intervention, CAFÉ Housing for Indigent Widows borne out of the need to help the helpless by putting a roof over their heads. The project is ongoing in many communities across three Senatorial zones of Anambra State. Already completed houses were recently commissioned in Agulu, Nri, Alor, Umunya and many others are still under construction.

There is also the CAFÉ Market Toilets project with facility for both female and male and borehole water supply being executed in select rural markets in communities across the three Senatorial Districts of Anambra State to promote hygiene and preserve the dignity of the rural women. The toilets at Eke Igwe Nteje, Afor Mbaukwu have been completed and others are ongoing.

Chief (Mrs.) Obiano’s commitment to uplifting the fortunes of women at all levels is very well known across the state. She has devoted the CAFÉ platform to providing distressed women with immediate relief from hunger. A total of 600 indigent women have undergone skills acquisition training in tailoring and fashion design, Bakery and confectionary, Soap making, Hair dressing and Beauty Therapy, as well as community health services to promote safe health practices in remote communities. The graduands are empowered with equipment in their chosen field and given seed money to take-off and make a living.

Equally, CAFÉ has positively improved the mobility of over 700 physically challenged persons who were given free artificial limbs with the Sponsorship of free Prosthetic Limb fittings for the physically-challenged and other mobility aides like wheel chairs. Also 25 children with congenital mouth abnormality have benefited directly from CAFE Sponsorship of Free Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate Surgery. The free surgeries are performed in collaboration with the Smile Train Nigeria at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH) Nnewi to bring back life-time joy to the children.

To date, about forty inmates have been treated and many of them reunited with their families under CAFÉ Care for the Mentally Challenged, implemented in conjunction with the Ministry for Women Affairs. Under the programme, mentally challenged 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 a clean and healthy environment as well as healthy citizens across Anambra State.

These are just a few highlights of the projects undertaken by CAFÉ in support of the helpless members of the public.

Interestingly, Mrs Obiano does not hesitate to share the spotlight of these tremendous achievements of CAFÉ. In fact, she gives credits to her donors. Hear her: “As an NGO, CAFE does not get financial support from the government. We are able to carry out our programmes with donations from both corporate and private organizations. I am most grateful to great sons and daughters of Anambra State whose uncommon philanthropy encourage our efforts, people like Chief Arthur Eze and numerous others who support CAFÉ projects. Without them, we may not touch these many lives.”

On what drives her to continue giving in the face of dwindling resources, Mrs Obiano said that God made the world such that the “haves” can assist the have-nots. This is the 21st Century; Anambra cannot afford so many indigent people.” Also on her supportive role beside her husband the governor, she said: “My husband’s mission is to serve Ndi Anambra; mine is to support his efforts through the programmes of my NGO, CAFÉ.”

All told, there is no doubt that Chief Mrs Obiano’s commitment to charity through CAFÉ is unequivocal. It is also not surprising that at every opportunity she reiterates the clarion call for more hands to be on deck to uplift the fortunes of less privileged Ndi Anambra, thus re-echoing her firm belief that “wherever and whenever life is touched government has succeeded.” Any wonder why Mrs. Obiano touches lives where it really matters?

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