- Why do you have a specific focus on widows and Orphans
The Rose of Sharon Foundation was born out of a divine instruction from God. I asked the Lord how I could be of service to Him, and He directed me to James 1:27 in the bible. The summary of which is to visit and assist the widows, their children and orphans.
- Talk to us about the vision for the ROSF
The Rose of Sharon Foundation (RoSF) is an NGO focused on alleviating the plight of widows and orphans.
Our vision is to provide help and succour for widows and orphans across Nigeria and hopefully, the rest of the world in future. Our mission is to guarantee financial independence for widows and educational opportunity for their children & orphans. This is done through schemes & programmes that assure greater self-esteem & ease of socio-economic integration.
A journey that started with three (3) widows on 23rd May 2008, has amalgamated into a network of almost 700 widows today. We teach our widows to fish, rather than give them fish, by empowering them with interest-free micro-credits and overall long- term repayment policy arrangements. We also offer their children and orphans unconditional educational scholarships up to university level.
We run annual enterprise development programs where our beneficiaries are trained with entrepreneurial skills to enable them fulfil their life’s dreams and aspirations.
Since inception, the Foundation has empowered almost 1000 widows and awarded scholarships to about 1,400 widow’s children and 86 orphans.
Moreover, we have provided accommodation for either residential or business purposes for 82 widows. Almost all of our beneficiaries have had free healthcare checkups from time to time. Also, some have had free legal services through the support of our other partner agencies.
- What are some of the success stories you can share about the ROSF so far?
We have several success stories in the Foundation. I will share three stories out of many.
- Story 1- Mrs Oluchukwu Njoku
Mrs Oluchukwu Njoku lost her husband in 2004 and was left with two girls who were aged 11 and 14. Shortly after, she lost her job and life became hard for her. As if that was not enough, her in-laws also invaded her home and carted away her family’s properties because she did not have a male child for her late husband.
Her plight in the hands of her in-laws was published in the Sun Newspaper of 19th October, 2004.
She was introduced to the Foundation in 2010, where she was empowered with an interest free loan of N30,000 to start up a clothing business after going through our enterprise development skills training. Her two daughters were also given scholarships up to university level.
Today her first daughter is a final year undergraduate of English Education in Ekiti State University, while her second daughter is in year 2 studying Food Technology at the University of Jos. Her clothing business has also blossomed and is now worth N450,000.00 in stocks and assets.
- Story 2 – Mrs Blessing Osazuwa
Mrs Osazua is one of our widows who demonstrated determination to live above the ugly side of widowhood. She was empowered in 2011 with a startup loan of N100,000 to set up a crèche. Her 2 children were also awarded scholarships.
Today the creche has grown to become a full-fledged, Government approved, Nursery and Primary School worth over N3milion in assets. Her two children are doing well academically. The eldest is in Senior Secondary School, while the younger is in Junior Secondary School.
- Story 3 – The Ezeala Orphans
The Ezeala’s are a family of 5 children who were orphaned in 2008 after the demise of their mother. The Rose of Sharon Foundation adopted them as our orphans and took over responsibilities for their accommodation and upkeep. They were also awarded scholarships up to university level.
Today, three members of the family have graduated from higher institutions. These include: Onyema, who is a Political Science graduate of Lagos State University, Chinedu is a graduate of Banking and Finance from Federal Polytechnic, Nekede Owerri and Adaku whom I call “my little nurse” studied nursing and midwifery at Amaigbo School of Nursing, Imo State. Uchenna is an OND holder of Computer Science from the Federal Polytechnic, Owerri and will continue into his HND program, while Chiamaka is currently awaiting admission into the university on completion of her senior secondary school education.
Today, Onyema runs an after-school center to support himself and his siblings.
- Describe the impact the work of the foundation has made in the lives of women in Nigeria.
I believe that through the grace of God and our partners, the Rose of Sharon Foundation has been able to put smiles on the faces of many widows in Nigeria. Through our scholarship programs, skills acquisition programs and interest free loans, we have empowered women who have been abandoned by society to a life of poverty, depression, desperation and despair to become entrepreneurs, and career women.
The scholarships given to the widow’s children and orphans have also gone a long way to reduce crime, prostitution and negative social vices that these ones would have been vulnerable towards if they were not opportuned to attend school. They can now dream of a better future without limitation to who or what they can become and what they can achieve.
As we “reached out and touched” these women, we have restored hope and given them a lease of new life even after the demise of their spouses and fathers.
- What are the future plans for the foundation?
We have 667 widows, 86 orphans and 1,366 children that we are currently supporting. However, the number will increase to 1000 by the end of 2018. One hundred new beneficiaries are being added at our 10th anniversary program on 23rd June 2018.
We intend to build a skills acquisition center, where we will be running enterprise development skills programs for our beneficiaries.
We are also looking at partnering with more NGO’s who can provide services we do not have capacity to offer to increase our reach to other parts of the country.
However, I do believe that together we can reach out and touch more lives.