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Dame Edith Okowa: Benefactor per excellence ~ Truth Reporters

By Chukwudi Abiandu

The streak of impact of her milk of human kindness, fondness and affinity with the less-privileged has marked her out as a woman of benevolence. This uncommon virtue which Dame Edith Okowa, wife of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state has continued to display singles her out as a  model and succour provider.

Her outstanding passion for the plight of the needy played out glaringly again as 42 orphanages and five adopted families in Asaba joined in the memorable activities to mark the World Orphans Day on Thursday, November 7, 2019.  The event which came alive in the emerald ambiance of Government House, Asaba, was hosted by ever cheerful Mrs. Okowa, Founder of the 05 Initiative.

The Director-General, 05 Initiative, Mrs. Oghenekevwe Agas, set a tone for the day in her welcome address, saying that the World Orphanage Day 2019 was being marked for people to “remember that there are persons in our midst that need our attention.”

She was speaking about orphans, their plight and the need to extend care to them for active and purposeful living. “A child is made to suddenly change and become timid. These set of people are in pain that cannot be described,” she said.

These are the less-privileged, those whose circumstance of birth may have regrettably pushed them to become destitute, unfortunate, indigent, deprived, poor, needy and lowly. They are children who through no fault of theirs found themselves in very discomforting situation of no parental care. They have lost touch with natural parents who brought them into the world and are now alone, with a bleak future staring at them.

Faced with a hopeless situation, orphans go through hardship and often do not receive the right attention of affection necessary for them to properly develop.  They need care that will provide for them the opportunity to have a better life.

Dame Okowa began the occasion by raising awareness about the dilemma of children without parents, and admonished those who may not be biological parents of needy children on the significance of caring for them and extending human kindness.

She said, ``these children see you as the father they never had, as the mother they never had. The world we are living in today is a world that has become pervasive; men of 70 years sleep with children. Today, the Lord is saying to us that today is not a show, but to remind us about our responsibility to children; that the children we come across may not be our biological children, but we have a responsibility to them. It is not about the position you occupy, but about the heart you carry.”

She drew inspiration for her passion to extend compassion to the needy from Matthew 25:35-36 in the Holy Bible where Jesus Christ said “For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you come to Me.”

Indeed, the Delta First Lady has lived up to the demands of this inspiration with her 05 Initiative which was established in 2016 and  pronto, began the assignment of touching lives by feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the homeless, clothing the naked, care or the sick and visiting the prisoner.

Of course, the United Nations set aside November of every year to raise awareness of the plight of orphans and to re-evaluate the way children around us are treated, especially those not our biological children, who lost parenting under varying circumstances, making them vulnerable to societal storms.

As with previous years, Mrs Okowa gave various food items and cash to 42 orphanages and five indigent families she adopted as her responsibility to provide for. The items were arranged in heaps, each bearing the name of the orphanage it had been assigned to. The orphanages are located in different parts of the state, and the adopted families include Abojei, with four boys and one girl who lost their parents. They hail from Onicha-Ugbo in Aniocha North Local Government Area; Pastor Martins where both parents died in an accident.

The third is the Favour family of two children who lost their parents; the fourth is the quintuplet children. The five babies lost their 29 year-old mother after she gave birth to them through a caesarean session, and it was her first pregnancy. Okowa, in her kind heartedness has continued to provide the needs of the families, ensuring that they do not lack.

A cleric, who was at the event, Bishop Nuel Ikeakanam, prayed and asked God to “give us men and women and strategies to see that the vulnerable in the society can receive help.”

Rev. Canon Kingsley Dieli, a care giver at St. Barnabas Anglican Orphanage/Motherless Babies Home, Asaba was full of praise for Dame Okowa, who he addressed as “Mama Delta’’. He said “Mama Delta, you may not know the extent to which what you are doing has affected lives. We thank you for what you are doing; for going all out to help the needy.”

Another observer, Mrs Uju Ntasiobi, said: “Mrs Okowa has opened her heart to receive God’s vision, by which she is challenging our sensibilities and calling attention to these types of people in society.” She prayed that God would raise godly men and women to join her to fulfill this vision.

“The vision will not end after her husband’s tenure as governor in Government House, Asaba. Today, the orphaned child in Delta can smile because you are there. The sickle cell child can smile because you are there. May God bless the day you were born,” she said, adding that she would receive grace to take her mission to greater heights.
Dame Okowa, who laced her exhortation with choruses of praise to the Almighty God, explained that although 05 Initiative had celebrated World Orphans Day every year since 2016,``2019 celebration is particularly outstanding’’.

She said: “Every child has a right to protection and is entitled to a complete and fulfilled life. But my heart bleeds each time I see parents especially mothers maltreating their domestic staff. Our aim of gathering here annually is not for show, but to talk to ourselves on ways to add value to the lives of these children.

“As part of our mission to feed the hungry and provide shelter for the homeless, this year’s celebration will not be different; we have food items for the various orphanages and families.” The food stuffs were arranged in heaps, 42 of them, each bearing the names of orphanages to which they belonged.
Of course, the ceremony was made possible by those partnering with her to give care to orphans, and they were duly acknowledged by her. She said: “Let me appreciate our care givers, thank you for creating an atmosphere of love for my children, it is indeed a huge task. I urge you not to relent, keep showing kindness. God is not unjust to forget your labour of love, you will reap in due season if you faint not.

A special thanks was also made to the corporate organisations that supported her financially. She pleaded with parents to plant good seeds for the sake of their children, declaring that just one good seed will yield a bountiful harvest. “Go the extra mile; give that child many reasons to live so we can change our world, one person at a time.”

Okowa at a point was taken aback and saddened by the activities of some unscrupulous persons working in some orphanages. She admonished those care givers involved in selling children to stop the evil activities. “These children are not your own; I am not referring to all care givers but I am talking to the few that are involved. If you don’t stop, the police will be invited into the matter,” she warned.

Obviously pleased with the magnanimous activities of Okowa, Mrs. Chukwudum Presca of Shalom Orphanage, Ibusa said: “I am very happy and excited that we have a mother like Her Excellency, Mrs. Edith Okowa in this state. She is a blessing to Delta state and to the orphans. I pray for her that God will bless her and bring people like Aaron and Hai to hold her hand, so that this initiative will not die.”
For Miss Chidinma Nwokoye of Happy Home Orphanage, Okwe, the ceremony is a very good event. “Her Excellency is helping the orphanages by sending them food, clothes for their well being.”

Rev. Sister Agnes of Mother of Divine Grace Orphanage said: “We are happy and grateful to god for this event. This is the fourth year we benefitted. We pray to God to bless Mrs. Edith Okowa. Our message to others is that they should copy what she is doing.”

Rev. Canon Kingsley Dieli of St. Barnabas Anglican Orphanage/ Motherless Babies Home, Asaba described the event as godly and part of the heart beat of God. He said: “Any organisation, or individual that is well to do and does not think along this side is wasting God’s resources and opportunity. Because if you are given billions, it is God that gave it to you because there are many whose future is tide around that wealth. You are not meant to keep it but to share.”

Dieli revealed that what was done to celebrate the world orphans day was what Okowa has been doing in the past years. “She also sends her staff without making noise about it, to bring items to orphanage homes,’ he said.   

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