Agagu’s widow fetes handicapped trainees, students


Mrs. Olufunke Agagu (right) Inspecting the products of the trainees

THE wife of the former Governor of Ondo State and founder of Handicapped Education Foundation (HANDEF), Dr Mrs Olufunke Agagu, last week feted primary, secondary school students and physically impaired trainees to mark its tenth empowerment programme in Akure.

HANDEF, since creation in 2008, has been encouraging people living with disabilities by organising different seminars and workshops on different aspects of life to empower them on health issues, business and entrepreneurship, and partnering with other local and international organizations, geared towards giving the focal persons a sense of belonging and purpose on earth.

Seventeen people living with various disabilities at the HANDEF Mobility Aid and Braille Centre were given six laptop computers, three knitting machines and eight cash empowerment, while 11 students from primary and secondary school categories won several awards and cash prizes in a competition.

According to the founder: “This will be the tenth in the series of our empowerment programs since the centre was commissioned in 2008.

In fact, we had three ceremonies in the first year where we graduated 20 in ICT and seven in bead and hat making.”

She stated that the foundation has trained for free and graduated 56 people in ICT, 29 in fashion designing, knitting, hat and bead making from 2008 to 2015, “and all of them were given tools of their trade or start-off grants.”

Agagu mentioned that during the same period, the foundation has counselled and tested 1863 for HIV/AIDS and have given out over 700 mobility aids throughout the south western states, and even to beneficiaries in Edo State, adding that one of the Ogungbeni children, who are beneficiaries of HANDEF, would soon graduate from the Technical College, Okitipupa.

The foundation in the last two years has introduced “The Essay and Artistic Drawing Competition,” which is open to select private primary and secondary schools in the state, and as affirmed by Agagu, “would serve firstly as campaign among school children on the plight of people with disability.”

She emphasized that the competition “also seeks to discover the latent creativity of our children. The winners of this competition in the various categories will be given awards and a reminiscent of the HANDEF Partners’ Club of the early years of the foundation.”

The former governor’s wife expressed displeasure over the poor use of the e-granary library that is domiciled in HANDEF Centre and the subsequent sale of the empowerment tools given to the trainees after graduation, thereby imploring parents to discourage their wards from such acts. HANDEF is also making efforts to partner with some tertiary institutions in the South West to reverse the former trend.

However, she said: “HANDEF will continue to work for the benefit and recognition of our focal group but I must say that we need encouragement from our parents, the general public and government at all levels; people with different disabilities are part and parcel of or society and they deserve recognition and place of pride, not pity or discrimination.”

The founder recounted that the donation that was received at its inception has yielded more profits, has been the source and financial base for the sustenance of its operations and empowerment programmes, thereby urging the general public and humanitarian organisations to partner with the foundation to better the lives of the handicapped and impaired people.

Earlier, in a lecture on entrepreneurship, which is the key focus of HANDEF, Mr Michael Amushitan, from Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), orientated the trainees and on the technicalities and strategies of becoming a successful entrepreneur in their various vocations.

The President of HANDEF Beneficiaries Business Association (HBBA), Falae Mayowa, thanked the founder for the humanitarian drive and pledged that the association would continue to dissuade the beneficiaries from further abusing the great gesture to give them a sense of belonging as a people.

Present at the occasion were: Chief Dr. Mrs Olufunke Agagu, the former First Lady of Ondo state and Founder of HANDEF, Chief Femi Akinmade, a Board of Trustee member of HANDEF, Chief Mrs Cecelia Meradesa, the Iyalode of Akure, Mrs Bike Akinduro among others.

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