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Rehoboth African Women Foundation Celebrates Nigerian Widows

As the world marked this year’s International Widows Day, IWD, on June 23, 2022, the Rehoboth African Women Foundation, RAWF, has felicitated with all widows in the country and indeed the whole world.

The IWD is meant to take action for the complete rights and recognition of widows. Before the United Nations’ official recognition, the day was observed by the Loomba Foundation in 2005. The foundation had chosen June 23 to mark the International Widows Day. On this day in 1954, founder Rajinder Paul Loomba’s mother, Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba, became a widow.

Thus, every year on June 23, the International Widows Day is observed across the globe to shed light on their rights and social protection. According to the United Nations, there are over 258 million widows around the world out of which many are left unsupported and denied their basic rights.

Nancy Harry, chairperson of Rehoboth, said in a release that since the IWD was introduced by the United Nations in 2011 to highlight the voices of widows, Rehoboth joined millions of Nigeria’s Widows to mark their day as well as restate the body’s commitment as a non-governmental organisation, NGO, that cares for women, widows, girl child and orphans.

Her words: “Over the years, we have demonstrated our position as an organisation that gives the less privileged a shoulder to lean on; that we give the down trodden a sense of belonging and also give them reasons to smile.

“Today, we restate our belief that no child should be left behind in Nigeria’s march to greatness. As part of our activities, we have dared the dreadful Boko Haram war torn zone area of Borno State as a concrete sign that there is no place too scary to reach.

“In Borno State for instance, its capital, Maiduguri, has in recent years, been subjected to incessant attacks by the Boko Haram insurgents, leading to abject poverty and loss of lives. In a bid to provide relief for children and women within these communities, Rehoboth embarked on a journey to the Kushari community in 2017, right in the heat of the insurgency attacks.

“Upon getting wind of our presence, the insurgents came into town searching for us. Despite narrowly escaping these marauding elements, we provided food and clothing to women, girls and children from about 500 households within the community.

“Women and girls in many other communities within Northern Nigeria and other parts of Africa are victims of this insurgency. We want to join hands with all our partners to provide humanitarian support to them, one project at a time.

“We have visited the devastated widows and their children, and even orphans who are languishing in despair. For millions of our women who have lost their husbands since the terrorists struck in North East Nigeria over a decade ago, the journey has been tough for their basic rights, income, and possibly their children.

“It is becoming increasingly more difficult for many of them to meet their daily needs and basic healthcare facilities after the loss of their spouses. Worse still, many are holed up in internally displaced camps, where they depend on government, NGOs and well-meaning individuals for support and ultimately make their living conditions much better.

“Since we began this journey as an NGO, we have intervened in many cases involving widows. We got justice for Mrs. Adewunmi, who like many vulnerable widows, fell victim to the activities of a swindler. Under the guise of wanting to marry her daughter, the swindler got Mrs Adewunmi to sell her only house and took away all her money.

“Mrs. Adewunmi had innocently released these to the man as her way of contributing to her daughter’s wedding. This caused a major financial setback for Mrs. Adewunmi and her children.

When Rehoboth African Women Foundation heard of it, we searched the swindler out, got him arrested, recovered all of Mrs. Adewunmi’s properties and sent him to prison, with the help and cooperation of Lawyers and Law Enforcement Agents. Mrs. Adewunmi has gone on to live a happy and undisturbed life since then.

“Sadly, there are many more women like Mrs. Adewunmi in our societies and we hope to help them.”

Harry said further that Rehoboth has organised empowerment programmes for Widows.

She said: “We provided grinding machines and other supplies for widows in rural communities in Nigeria.

“Every year, we gather under-privileged women and widows together and let them share a good time together over food, drinks and good music. We give them orientation as to how they can build their lives from the point at which they are, and renew their hope in humanity.

“Today, Rehoboth African Women Foundation intends to take its passion for these groups beyond measures.

“We are prepared to partner with relevant agencies, individuals and even governments at local, state and federal levels to significantly demonstrate that Nigeria is a country where the disadvantaged and vulnerable groups have equal access to positive development opportunities.”

She enjoined other Nigerians to key into this mission and receive the unquantifiable reward from the Almighty God.

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