Rose of Sharon Foundation (RoSF)
INTERNATIONAL WIDOWS’ DAY ADDRESS
by Mrs Folorunso Alakija- Founder
23rd June 2017
Founders Welcome Address
Her Excellency, The First Lady of Lagos State Mrs Bolanle Ambode, ably represented by Dr. Mrs. Folashade Onanuga, Director General, Lagos State Pension Commission
Our distinguished Guest Speaker -Mrs. Ayodeji Megbope (CEO No Left Overs Nigeria Limited)
Mrs Aisha Imeh-James (CEO Ample Food Venture)
Mr. Adewumi Oni (Head, Micro Enterprise Unit of the Lagos State Employability Trust Fund)
Our Medical Supply donors
The Medical Doctors and their team ably led by Dr. Martina Agberien
Gentlemen of the Press
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
I warmly welcome you all to the RoSF International Women’s Day celebration, a day set aside and recognised by the United Nations to celebrate widows. The same organisation describes them as: “absent in statistics, unnoticed by researchers, neglected by national and local authorities and mostly overlooked by civil society”. Their plight, travails and challenges go unnoticed by the generality of the society.
However, we at the Rose of Sharon Foundation are spiritually mandated and committed not to allow their plights to go unnoticed. We are determined to fight for their rights and provide succour to them as best as we can. Though we celebrate them regularly but today is a special day.
This year makes our 4th celebration of the International Widows Day along with the rest of the world and we trust that at the end of today, we would have drawn more of the public’s attention to their challenges. We hope that in so doing, many more will become positive influencers in one way or the other in fighting for Widows and their children all over our Nation.
We thank you all for coming to support us.
Our theme for this year’s celebration is “Economic Empowerment of Widows: A call to reach out and touch”. We believe that the greatest need for widows is economic empowerment. This is because most of them are stripped of their husbands financial and material resources at the demise of their spouse. The result is that widowed mothers, would have to support their families alone.
Without help and support, they are forced to withdraw children from school and to rely on their labour. Moreover, the daughters of widows may suffer multiple deprivations, increasing their vulnerability to abuse. The sons may get into bad company and so on and so forth.
This year, we have with us a seasoned entrepreneur as our guest speaker in the person of Mrs. Ayodeji Megbope, the CEO of No Left Overs Nigeria Limited, a full-scale catering company. She started with a take-off capital of N1000 (One Thousand Naira), but today has an annual turn-over that runs into millions of naira. This same business has taken her to the White House in America. We hope that her story will inspire and encourage many of our widows and others today, to believe in themselves and realise that with hard work and tenacity, no amount is too small to start the journey towards economic freedom.
ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE LAST YEAR (June 2016-Date)
International Widows Day 2016
We celebrated IWD 2016 on Thursday 23rd June with over 500 attendees. During last years’ celebration, The Grand Matron and First Lady of Lagos State promised to empower 7 widows in the bread business. However, they have not commenced the business due to mobility challenges.
Enterprise Development & Skills Acquisition Training
The Annual capacity building & skills acquisition program held between 10-12 October 2016, with over 300 participants. The participants were empowered with vocational skills which has enabled them to become financially independent. We have already started planning towards the one for this year coming up on 4th October 2017. We welcome everyone who wants to learn a vocational skill or sharpen your existing skill to plan to attend.
RoSF Christmas Party and Widows Exhibition
Our Christmas Party was celebrated on 9th December 2016. It was a time to felicitate with our widows, their children and orphans. During last years’ party, we also had an exhibition session where the products of widows, who had gone through our vocational training programs, were displayed and almost all their products were sold out. The fashion designers, milliners, confectionary caterers, jewellers, accessory manufacturers and tie and dye producers were encouraged with patronage by guests.
The Founders award for the top Three Students also held on the same day and the overall best graduating Student, Mr. Olawale Mabadeje – an orphan, was awarded a Master’s Degree Scholarship.
We also shared the joy of the season with six orphanage homes in Lagos, where we delivered our annual Christmas gifts and cash donations.
RoSF Stakeholders Meeting
We had a stakeholders meeting on 8th March 2017, between the beneficiaries of the Foundation and members of the Board of Trustees to discuss other ways the foundation can assist them to achieve their dreams.
The discussions bordered on increasing their employability skills and chances at being successful entrepreneurs. At the end of the meeting, it was decided that the Foundation would organise career development and capacity building programmes so that they can become useful tools to themselves and the society.
The RoSF Youth Empowerment Program (RoYEP)
The inaugural RosF Youth Empowerment Program (RoYEP) held on the 29th of April 2017, with over 200 participants in attendance. We had volunteer facilitators come to teach on career specific programs that will enable them to compete favourably in the workplace. This program will now be held twice a year. We believe that by the end of this year, we will be able to give a report of the impact of the program.
The RoSF Women Empowerment Program (RoWEP)
RoWEP is our regular program structured to provide business and life support services to widows who are the principal providers for their families. We deliver on this by proving financial, educational, vocational and entrepreneurial support to our beneficiaries. Our aim is to help them lead a life they will be proud of to raise their heads and shoulders high among their peers. We hope to report their successes in the next edition of our newsletter.
The RoSF Micro Credit Scheme
In the last eight months, we have empowered over 100 widows with their second or third interest free loans, having repaid their initial loans. To date, over 900 widows have been given interest free loans with flexible repayment plans to help them start, expand or sustain their businesses. This has helped to bring economic stability to their lives.
RoSF Agric- Business Scheme (RoABS)
Our Agric Business Scheme (RoABS) is specially designed to assist widows working in the agricultural sector through the provision of finance and training as support for sustainable livelihood through farming.
RoSF Welfare Scheme (RoWS)
Through our welfare scheme, we provide monthly stipends for our inactive aged widows and our orphans. We also financially assist our beneficiaries during unforeseen incidents. In the last 6 months, we have provided support for 9 widows whose shops or homes were either destroyed by fire or demolition.
- Enterprise Development and Skills Acquisition- 4th October, 2017
- Widows and Orphans Christmas Party, 14th December, 2017
We look forward to these events and hope that with the support and cooperation of all of you, this years’ program will far surpass the successes of the past years.
We thank each and every one of you for coming today, we appreciate our ever-faithful volunteers who have supported us continually over the years. We also appreciate our Grand Matron- The First Lady of Lagos State- Mrs Bolanle Ambode, the Medical Supply donors, the doctors and nurses, all speakers and various participants and everyone who has contributed in one way or another to make this IWD celebration a success. We look forward to a continued and mutually beneficial relationship with you all.
It is imperative that we all work together to stamp out discrimination and ill treatment of widows, their children and orphans once and for all. We cannot keep mouthing our support. The call to action is here and needs to be NOW. We look forward to you partnering with us as we continue to reach out and touch one life at a time. You are welcome to the RoSF 2017 International Widows’ Day Celebration.