Centre where widows find succor and shelter in Port Harcourt
* New businesses opened, food, clothes up for grabs
(Culled from BD Sunday)
Every now and then, widows converge from most parts of Port Harcourt and the Niger Delta to seek succor including shelter, business capital, and food items. Compassion is the name on everyone’s lip. Some widows are trading today on account of support and seed capital they received from Compassion Africa years ago. Some have trained their children in the University through businesses and stipends from them.
Recently, the auditorium of the Overcomers Christian Centre International in the Rumugholu area of Port Harcourt, rocked with songs and charity as widows carted away rice and foodstuff, clothes and capital for new businesses. It all passed the hands of Joy Azaka, a female evangelist, pastor, philanthropist, and woman of valour. She is the the co-pastor of the famous Overcomers Christian Centre International in the Rumugholu area of Port Harcourt (on the way to the International Airport from the Obiri Ikwerre Interchange (Flyover)). She is also founder of a massive non-governmental organisation (NGO), Compassion Africa.
Various women stood at te auditorium to recount their woes after losing their husbands. Others who fought their ways through successfully came around to coach the hapless others. Widows gave to widows, too. That is the Widows Planet in Port Harcourt.
At the end of the exercise, Joy Azaka spoke with BD Sunday:
Today represents a day of victory in strange dimensions because before now, I was literally addressing their surface (superficial) needs; clothing, food, shelter, etc. Now, I have been led to realizing other gaps that food and shelter cannot fill. We had to go deeper to solve their problems.
What food and shelter cannot do for a widow
Going deeper means helping widows to put sorrow aside, keeping grieving aside. Persistent grieving opens the door to different kinds of affliction. We brought in older widows to share with young ones. Some that are young look 60 years old because of grieving. We make them accept that you still have a life but most women surrender it. We let them know you do not have to die with the dead.
Yes, in Africa, we seem to celebrate those who do not want to come out of mourning. We want to say, ah, since her husband died, she has not been well. So, we are fighting those age-old practices that set the society back. Yes, some will not move away. So, we say, take off the perpetual mourning gown and wear a gown of progress and victory.
We are also addressing the problem of indiscipline in homes without fathers and lack of mentoring influences in such homes. We have not yet set up formal structures, but we have been teaching them informally. I grew up as the daughter of a widow. I grew up with a mother who mourned all her life, even at 88.
The real challenge of widowhood is not the loss of the husband but the collapse of the entire life of a woman and surrender of destiny. There are other aspects of life apart from marriage. Most men remarry but women stay put; even those that had bad marriages. Those that had good marriages say they do not want to meet a bad man; those with bad marriage say they do not want to meet same bad man.
It is rather better to open up, get a man ready to be a father to your children and star a new life. We agree however that man one wife is still the best family way. God is a super mathematician. For every male, there is a female. One wife is enough peace for every man, but a widow can still find a man that would take her as a worthy wife with her children.
Helping widows is best goodluck ‘charm’
The prayers of widows availeth much because there have been examples of people who have survived calamities by the prayers of widows. There is one prominent woman in Port Harcourt, wife of a top political personality, who invests in widows and has had many testimonies of narrow escapes and breakthroughs. She is not living off the husband or politics because of prayers and goodwill from widows. She has her own successes.
I am a living testimony of what God can do if you help widows. I have escaped several bouts of disasters and I think God sees my heart. Its still the best form of social investment.
Examples abound of difficult situations we have confronted in the ministry of rescuing widows. I have rented apartments for widows. I grew up with a mother-widow and many times we cried out over lack. Thank God I met Jesus early and got a definition of my life. It was not fun. Right now, we have a widow on our hands who says she stays in a batcher. Trust me, if money enters into my hand any moment from now, we will get an apartment for her. Her baby has already been adopted by us for help.
There are some orphans who were thrown out of a makeshift house (batcher). We said to hell and rented an apartment for them. Today, the first male child works with Shell. We are not keen on their coming back to link back. Coping with the needs of widows is difficult because meeting your own needs is not easy.
My determination is to build a rehabilation centre
My determination is to build a rehabilitation centre to take children of widows away from the streets. I already have a parcel of land at Omademe area of the state, even if it is just to build 10 rooms. It will help to monitor their progress.
Skills centre to the rescue
We have started running a scheme acquisition scheme and 40 would be graduating soon at Eleme. We are looking at starting one here, near Obio/Akpor International Market. The first objective is to pay attention to these disadvantaged species. We keep encouraging them to take their lives in their hands. The loss of a husband is not the loss of your won life.
We appeal to well meaning organisations and institutions to support us to save lives. These sons and daughters of widows you are ignoring may be your undoing in the future. My primary duty is preaching the word of God around the world. Let organisations help genuine groups battling to provide for widows.
I have seven children and I have been a widow for four years running. My late husband’s relations took over all the land. I have been in court with them. Worse, my landlord has locked us out for days. That is why we came here today to seek succur. That is why we pray ceaselessly for Mrs Joy Azaka and her husband. Our prayer is for God to repay all those who help us. I sell vegetables at Total, Creek Road, in Port Harcourt.
I do advise my children all the time and they have run to Christ. Their relations trouble them a lot.
Blessing Light Okezuo
Since my husband died five years ago, nobody from my husband’s side has asked or looked for my children, to know how they are faring. As a minister in a church, I help people just like the way Joy Azaka does. In fact, the worst part is that they took our share of the land. The brother that is now in charge has seized all lands. Even when I went to ask for land to plant cassava for support, they said I was not entitled to any, unless I would come and face the kinsmen.
Since then, I avoided their place but I used to contribute to their activities in the past. Now, they said no farmland for me. I also saw it as a trap and therefore allowed it to pass away. I am coping by His calling. My children are not happy but they are very young. I cannot lead them into a battle. I have already let go. God will take control. My advice to others is; if you are passing through things like me, do not rely on people and your husband’s people. Rely on God.
What Joy Azaka is doing is fantastic. I run widow’s programme in my church as God reveals to me. Now, Joy Azaka has started same thing here. It must be God’s calling to fulfil destiny. You can see women carrying away rice and clothing; some have been assisted to start businesses. I pray that God increase the grace on her.