The Rotary Club of Ikeja empowered residents of its adopted communities in a ceremony held at Airport Hotel, Ikeja to mark the beginning of the Rotary calendar year which starts every July first.
The event which had in attendance the District Governor, Dr. Jide Akeredolu and some past presidents was with the theme: “ROTARY CONNECTS THE WORLD” as disseminated by the Rotary International President, 2019-2020, Mark Daniel Maloney.
Welcoming guests to the programme, the President, Rotarian Olumuyiwa Fagbola said the club is starting the Rotary year with the empowerment projects to the adopted communities with the donation of vocational tools and also to distribute micro-credit interest free loan of a total sum of one million naira of N25, 000 each to 40 beneficiaries of market women and men of Isolo community.
“In the past we have been given them N500,000 naira and they return it on a quarterly basis but for this year, with the support of ERITH foundation we have moved it to N1m.
“And the effect of this is that we make more market women and men benefiting from the interest free loan scheme. What they do is that, on quarterly basis they return the money to us and we can now have another set of beneficiaries that will be benefitting from the interest free loan scheme,” he added.
On how the beneficiaries were chosen, the President said in the case of the traders, it was the leader of the market that identify those that are to benefit from the scheme and she makes sure the money is returned as at when due.
Other beneficiaries according to him approached the club for assistance through their vocational centres. “We have some of them, who had gone to vocational centre but don’t have money to buy those equipment, so what we have done is to ensure that in our way of doing things we provide this equipment for them to make them self-employ and add value to their lives.
“Today being the beginning of our Rotary year, aside the market women and men, we are given out Hair drier, Sewing machines, Washing machines and Grinding machines to Rotary Vocational Centre in Ikorodu, the Nigerian Air force Officer’s Wives Association (NAFOWA), Vocational and ICT Centre, Ikeja, Agidingbi community and FSD Vocational Centre.
Pointing out that the scheme has been on in the last ten years, the President said other programmes lined up for the year include, project at Modupe Cole Centre, Akoka in August, Completion of the renovated Ikeja Junior High School class rooms in September and visit to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja where the club put smiles on the faces of the sick people through presentation of gifts.
“Of course we do borehole for communities to ensure that we add value to our own immediate community.”
On the money spent Rot. Fagbola said it runs into millions but “it’s not my own fund, it is the fund contributed by you and I, members of our families and friends and that is how Rotary is funded. Whatever is put together, we make sure we use it to add value to the less privilege in our community.”
In his speech, the District Governor, Rotarian Jide Akeredolu disclosed that aside the empowerment by the club, the district is embarking on a project of cervical cancer prevention as well as eradication of poverty in the society.
“Cervical cancer is the second killer after breast cancer and research as shown that 26 people die every day but the good side of it is that it can be prevented by vaccination.
Saying those that will benefit from the screening will be residents in Lagos and Ogun State, the Governor said it is going to be a big project and it going to be quiet challenging especially because of the cost but we want to build and start a new generation of women through Lagos and Ogun state free from cervical cancer.
“We will start small as far as money will get us because they say the journey of a thousand miles start from the first step. We will start and I believe over the years we will get there.
“The other programme which is quite challenging is what we call ‘Extreme Poverty Eradication’. Since August last year Nigeria became the extreme poverty capital of the world.
“Ten years ago, it was in China and India but now we have extremely poor people than both China and India combined together.
“In this category, we talked about people who are at the bottom of the barren, they don’t have any visible accommodation, and they use about 80% of their income just to feed. We have them everywhere and before you know it becomes a vicious cycle.
“What we want to do is to identify these people, bring them out, put them in a good shelter, give them a skill, give them a stipend because usually when you put these people in for vocational training, they don’t stay there because they were struggling to live every day and after we do that, we will set them up.
“We are taking up challenging area of our national life for Rotary to address it, we use to do simple things in the past, boreholes, renovation but we are now going into the deep issues affecting the less privilege in our society.
Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, the Coordinator of Nigerian Air force Officer’s Wives Association NAFOWA, Vocational and ICT Centre, Ikeja said it has been a wonderful experience with Rotary Club of ikeja “because for the past five years that I have known them, the club has given our graduates lease of life to be on their own.
“We always give the equipment to the best graduate from each department as their starter packs and the feedback has been very good.”