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Mary Ekah writes about a charity that is helping the less privileged and victims of Boko Haram insurgency to overcome their challenges
Tochukwu Ikenna, a middle-aged man from Awka in Anambra State had left home some eight years ago to do business in one of the Northern states. He was full of joy for the business opportunity. In just two years he had established a flourishing auto spare parts company in the city centre. But last year, after eight years of his sojourn, he lost everything and had to return home.

Now back to his hometown in Anambra, Ikenna is trying to pick up the pieces of his life, attempting to start life afresh, again.
Recently, as Ikenna tried to put the pieces of his life back together, he was part of the participants of an empowerment programme in Akwa, organised by Development Support Institute (DSI), a non-governmental organisation with the lofty objective of helping people to become financially independent.

Sponsored by Star Ultra Deep (A Chevron Company), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Oil And Gas Nigeria Limited, and Sasol Limited, the programme, in its sixth edition, was tagged, “Gaining Financial Independence” and was aimed at eradicating poverty through knowledge-based vocational learning programmes.

Divided into two segments, the first part was the skill acquisition programme where basic skills were taught and the second part was the enterprise development programme designed to address lack of managerial skills in women and the youths.

The training, originally designed for 50 persons, had over 100 participants who were thoroughly trained in leather works, fashion accessories, baking and confectionery, cosmetics and health products among others. This class was also taken through the rudiments of leadership, teamwork, time management, networking, financial management, and business planning.

They also embarked on a field trip to the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, where they were conducted round the Food Science Technology Department, Entrepreneurship Development Centre and the Fashion Department of the institution.

Over a hundred women participated in the training, including young people, some of who were students.
The Executive Director of DSI, Mrs. Jacqueline Odiadi spoke to THISDAY about the activities of the organisation.
She said: “We are helping the widows who need to take care of their children and who no longer want to be dependent on families for their day-to-day living and their children’s school fees. We are helping the unemployed graduates to be self-employed as well.

“We also have quite a handful of those who are still hoping to enter into various universities in Nigeria and feeling restless with themselves and were given forms from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Awka, Anambra State while some others were sent in by their local governments. They all came and saw the training and were overwhelmed by the scope of it. And they said that as they wait to further their education, they could engage in this or that, so that when the admission comes, they can have something set side to aid their education and they were just so eager to learn instead of just sleeping and waking at home.”

According to Odiadi the theme for the training, “Gaining Financial Independence ”, was in line with what DSI does – helping women and youth for economic development and self-reliance, revealed that it has been ten years of

Odiadi said the challenge really has been getting people to invest in other people. She noted that the training has further reinforced the belief at DSI about the urgent need for all stakeholders to consistently invest in the human capital development of the teeming Nigerian population who are most eager to learn and change their status from financially dependent persons to financially independent and empowered individuals.

“Man power development is very important, it is just as important as building structures because it’s human beings that would man the structures.  So we have to continually invest in people and you do this with faith and hope in humanity. Man is needed for structure, and structure is also needed for man, so it should go hand in hand,” she surmised.

A couple of young undergraduates who participated in the training related their experience. A Computer Science student of the Oko Polytechnic, Orji Ogechi who learned Beads Making and Accessories, said she got the information about the training from her church and had rushed down to pick up the form. She enthused: “I have always had interest for fashion and my school, Oko Federal Polytechnic, has been on strike for close to a year now. So I decided to learn a trade while the strike lasted. This is really going to help me.”

Ogechi said she has been equipped with the basic knowledge in just two weeks. “I have been given the basics of what to do, so I can as well go on the Internet to improve myself and as long as I have the interest, I can do whatever I need to, after all it is all about creativity and when you form it in your mind, you can definitely do it.

“I am going to start off my business making stuff for people in my own environment, particularly, people in my church.  I will make nice beads and show to them to buy and by so doing, I will be making money to make bigger ones. It cost me nothing to be here but just my time, which I am doing nothing with. So I am really going to maximize this rear opportunity that I have been given to improve on my financial status,” she said.

An undergraduate of Nnamdi Azikwe University, studying Accountancy, Chinazor Nze, also chose to go for Bead-making and Accessory at the DSI training to make ends meet and to also support her family.

“I am the first child of my parents. I decided to come to learn the trade so that I can help my parents financially”, Chinazor said. “We went through a two-week intensive training and right now I can say I am perfect in bead-making. I have been able to learn fast because I put my mind to it and by next week I am starting off with the token that I have”, she said enthusiastically.

Honourable (Mrs.) Beverly Ikpeazu-Nkemdiche, a member of the Anambra State House of Assembly representing Onitsha South II Constituency, said she was highly impressed by the DSI training.

Nkemdiche said: “They did not just train these people but have also given them starter kits, which I was not expecting.  So that is a big jump and like I said to the people of my constituency, I will help them financially to buy the materials for a start and I will encourage other members of the House to do the same. But I still believe their local governments should help them financially to start.”

She advised young people to learn skills and not wait for government jobs. She noted: “start something no matter how little it is. Even if it is frying puff-puff in front of your house, you are earning money and it is coming in gradually.

“This is a wonderful programme because when you train people, you are empowering people, and for those of them that came from my constituency, I am going to drive them crazy, because I will make them train other people. It is a way of helping people and that is what empowerment is all about. It is not when you take the knowledge and you are just keeping it to yourself, but when you train other people and they grow from it.”

Article Credit: Thisdaylive

Updated 4 Years ago

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Tags:     Mary Ekah     Tochukwu Ikenna     NNPC     Mrs. Jacqueline Odiadi     Orji Ogechi     Chinazor Nze     Honourable Mrs. Beverly Ikpeazu-Nkemdiche