Residents of Ago-Egun, Bariga, Lagos, were given a surprise Christmas package by a Non-Governmental Organisation, Knowledge Aid Initiative, who organized an event tagged: ‘One Bariga Woman.’ The programme was aimed at empowering women living with low income in slum areas of Africa.
According to the founder, a Human Right activist and medical practitioner, Ms Success Ojo, the One Bariga Woman is a project put together to help low income women who are living in the slum of Arica; and Christmas season signifies a time to show love.
About 30 women were given cash donations at the event ranging from N20,000 to N100,000 depending on their businesses.
Ojo said during the empowerment programme that women in the slums are vulnerable women who live below $1 (one Dollar) a day as they are mainly fish sellers while husbands are fishermen.
“The poverty level is so high in this area, no social amenity given to them all the things that rich people throw away as wastes are not available to the people living in the slumps.
“ We are here to take the lead in assisting them so that others too can follow, the women need help, look for a woman to give N2,000 to, their business is not up to N5,000 there are some of them we gave just N20,000 and it’s a whole lot to them. People should not wait until they have millions they can start from little amount”, she said.
The activist said this is not the time for government to ask how they got there adding that what they need is help because they have children who are also citizens of Nigeria and this is the time for government to think of ensuring quality education for those children by empowering their mothers.
“Government should organize empowerment programme for the women, the men don’t need help because they are constituting more problems to the society by marrying multiple wives and procreating easily,
if we are empowering the men they will continue to marry more wives but women when empowered they can take care of their children and their homes that is why we want to give a voice to the women”, she said.
The residents however cried out against what they described as indiscrimination and marginalization of their community by Lagos state government as they lack basic amenities such as pipe borne water, toilet facilities, health centers and schools among others.
The community head, Mr. Joseph Ayanfe said Lagos State Government should build houses for fishermen and stop blocking the rivers where they are fishing in the name of building structures.
A resident of the slum Mr. Rex Ajenifuja, Executive Director of Hope for HIV/AIDS said he started as an HIV/AIDS advocacy organization but later focused on children.
“When we came here 16 years ago we discovered there are more children who lack basic needs such as schools, drinkable water, health care centers, the situation here was unbearable it was slump of the slump so we taught of reaching out to children because the work here was enormous and we felt the only way we can make meaningful impact is to focus on the children and we created a segment for ourselves which is to focus on the children”, he said.
Ajenifuja said he was posted to the place 16 years ago as a pastor and during the evangelism he discovered that the people are living in a seriously poor condition as they have been marginalized by Lagos state government.
He however stated that his organization has made a lot of impact in the lives of people living there especially the impact of basic education for the children as they are charged a token of N1,500 per term which is not enough to pay teachers’ salary.
Mrs. Celestine Isaac commended Knowledge Aid Initiative for putting smiles on the faces of women in the area with the empowerment programme supported with cash donations to support their trade which is majorly fishing.
She however tasked government to do more for people living in slums as they are also citizens of the country, especially in the area of education.