January 3rd, 2020 will forever remain evergreen in the hearts of children with special needs as Anambra State Women Association Ireland extended a hand of friendship to them, giving the kids reasons to live again and believe in the notion that there is ability in disability. The jubilant kids could not withhold their tears of joy as they were treated to a series of activities which thereafter climaxed into presentation of life-changing materials for self-help in spite of their physical challenges. It was indeed a day to remember at the Anambra Broadcasting Service Event Hall Awka, as Anambra State Women Association Ireland through the office of the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on Special Education, consolidated on the poverty alleviation programmes of Chief Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano, wife of the Anambra State Governor. That was the mood on the occasion as ASA Women Ireland matched their sympathy with empathy for the children with varying degrees of special needs.
Diocesan Special Education Centre Nnewi Nnewi-North local government area, Rehabilitation Centre For The Disabled Old and Tramps (RECDOT) Ozubulu in Ekwusigo local government area as well as Special Education Centre Umuchu in Aguata local government area of Anambra state, were the schools that benefited from the self-empowerment scheme of the ASA Women Ireland.
President of ASA Women Ireland, lady Theodara Onyedinmanazu Ayagwu, said the association is a charitable organization registered in Dublin Ireland and that the aim of the organization was to galvanise women from Anambra living in the Republic of Ireland as well as work for the upliftment of Anambra state and Ireland respectively.
She recalled that in 2014, ASA Women Ireland brought their charity project home by supplying brand new desks, books and stationeries to Ikwo primary school Awka, emphasizing that charity begins at home. According to her, the association also conducted a cancer awareness programme during which people especially women were sensitized on the preventive measures and evolving curative options in cancer disease management.
The ASA Women president said that on the occasion of her 2020 Charity Support Programme for the less privileged and downtrodden in the society, some special schools and rehabilitation centres were selected in Anambra state. She said Special Education Centre Umuchu was selected and the school was given desks for children, tables and chairs for teachers. Rehabilitation Center for the Old and Tramps (RECDOT) Ozubulu got wheelchair and pads whereas Diocesan Special Education Centre Nnewi took Oven, Projector/Screen and Sewing machine. She said, “These gifts are small but they only serve as a token of our sincere desire to help our brothers and sisters at home. The profound relationship between our association and the people has been developed by projects like this. As a result, this tree of friendship between us and the less privileged ones in our communites remains deep-rooted and blooming.”
The Senior Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on Special Education, Hon. Ify Enekwechi thanked ASA Women Ireland for their timely response to the needs of children living with disabilities in Anambra state. Enekwechi though expressed worry that Nigerian governnent does not care about the welfare and well-being of children living with disabilities.
She also noted that the governor of Anambra state Chief Willie Obiano and his wife, Mrs.Ebelechukwu Obiano, had distinguished themselves in service to humanity especially taking care of children with special needs. The SSA on Special Education however observed that there are more autistic boys than girls all over the world, but advised that autistic children should not be deprived the right of therapy and all other fundamental rights and privileges because they were equally human persons irrespective of their physical and mental disabilities.
Dr.Ifeyinwa Iloh, an associate professor at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, whose guest lecture centred on Disability and Health , stated that over 650 million people live with disabilities all over the world .She therefore stressed the dire need for social and environmental barriers to be removed to enable persons with disabilities to live freely amongst members of the society .
According to her, the society should not marginalize nor discriminate against persons who have one form of disability or the other because they would be demoralized, depressed and may decide to take their own lives in such situations.
The guest speaker however stressed that there was need for rehabilitation of persons living with disabilities especially as it concerns discouraging negative perceptions and attitudes towards persons with special needs. She also recommended the provision of aids for individuals with special needs stressing that disability aids such as wheelchair, cruches, walking sticks and some others would provide great support while suggesting that those who are interested in vocational rehab and other forms of educational training, should have unhindered access to such opportunities.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the occasion, Comrade Innocent Nduanya, who equally functions as the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on Political Matters and Deputy President National Youth Council of Nigeria, described the intervention as a noble project, saying that it was not an easy task for ASA Women Ireland to pull their resources together and come to Anambra state to provide succour to persons living with disabilities.
Nduanya noted that the gesture from ASA Women Ireland to children with special needs in Anambra state was the best form of gifts any one can give to charity. He therefore pointed out that those who are well-to-do in Anambra state should remember children with special needs and not wasting resources in endless political activities and building mansions everywhere.
The highlights of the occasion were musical renditions, drama presentation as well as donation of gift items to the children by ASA Women Ireland.