TREM Bishop, wife, fete widows, open vocational school in Anambra
THE women went to church that day for their routine prayer sessions, not knowing that some pleasant surprises were awaiting them. And, at the end of the prayers, showers of blessings literally rained down on them as they all went home with a lot of goodies- bags of rice, cow meat, Ankara fabrics and cash gifts.
The event was at Ifite, Ogbunike in Oyi Local Council of Anambra State, where 500 widows recently received this largesse from the Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Ministry (TREM) and his wife.
In their usual characteristic of lending a helping hand to the less privileged in the
society, Bishop Mike and Bishop Peace Okonkwo in December empowered the widows and also dedicated a Rehoboth Vocational School in Ifite, Ogbunike.
T he vocational school in Ogbunike is an off-shoot of the Rehoboth Homes and Skills acquisition Centre in Lagos established by Bishop Peace Okonkwo to help young ladies develop themselves.
Speaking at the commissioning of the same school in Ifite, she said: “ Rehoboth Home in Lagos is a home for stranded ladies. It was conceived in response to the challenge being faced by women who, when thrown into the streets, become sex workers to make a living. We bring them to the home, train them on a vocation of their choice and release them into the society as better people who now contribute positively to the community where they live and the society at large.”
The Bishop’s wife explained that the home is in partnership the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffiking in Persons (NANTIP) to also rehabilitate ladies repatriated from the Diaspora, to give them a new lease of life and reunite them with their families or establish them in a vocation or send them to school to further their education, where the ladies are young and willing to do so.
She revealed: “ Today I am glad to tell you that over 100 ladies have passed though the home. Amongst them we have three graduates, one of them- a graduate of Business Administration, is today employed and has rented an apartment for herself. The day she brought her car to me, I was overjoyed seeing what God has turned a hopeless situation to in a few years. The second graduate studied Accounting while the third read Education- all of these at no cost to the ladies. Another lady chose to attend the Pencil Film Institute (PEFTI) in Lagos to learn the various arts of film-making. Today, she has not only finished, she is also gainfully employed.”
And, to replicate the Lagos model, Mrs. Okonkwo told the gathering: “We are here in Ifite, Ogbunike today to also provide men and women, most especially the youths, vocational education that will empower them to reach their potentials as productive and successful members of the community thereby giving them a means of livelihood they can be proud of. We believe that all youths have some potential to develop and as such, should be given such opportunities at affordable and reasonable fees.”
While stressing that engaging the youth in vocational training would curb many social ills, she said at the end of the training “students woul be awarded certificates, which could be used to further their training, start a business or get jobs and earn a living.
The Bishop’s wife also seized the opportunity to thank the Covenant Partners of the International Women Prayer Conference (IWPC) who she said have partnered with her over the years in bringing the day’s vision to reality.
Through the support of the group, Mrs. Okonkwo said, “we reach out to widows every year for the last 10 years to ensure that every widow has good food and clothes to wear at Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we gave out 55 bags of rice, other food items and five yards of Ankara material and cash to widows in the Umu Ogbuefi family. We also gave five wheelchairs each to five hospitals around here.”
She also explained that all the philanthropic activities of the church are an off-shoot of the Empowerment for the Less Privileged (ELP) Foundation established by her husband , Bishop Mike Okonkwo, to lend a hand to the less privileged. “The Presiding Bishop not only taught us to do it, but he championed the cause through the ELP foundation that trains men and women free of charge in Lagos in vocational skills,” she said.
Responding, the women were so full of prayers and gratitude, just as some of them stayed back to pray for the Bishop and his wife, thanking GOd that someone could remember them constantly at that period of the year.
The guest of honour at the event, Dr Paul Nwachukwu, did the dedication prayer to open the vocational school. While commending the building of the school, he also revealed that the next one would be built in Onitsha to further empower the people.