Zion Orphanage and Widows’ Home, located at Peace Village, Lugbe, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), has at least 25 children and more than 10 widows.
Recently, the Home was demolished, rendering them homeless, while the orphaned kids suffer from one form of neglect to another, even as the proprietor recovers from stroke.
PAUL OKAH looks at the issues.
Emmanuel William Okechukwu, from Anambra state, is the husband of Mrs.
Blessing William Okechukwu, the founder of the Home.
Speaking, on behalf of his wife, who is suffering from stroke and, therefore, cannot form coherent sentences, Okechukwu gives off-the-cuff account of the history of the orphanage, the challenges and future of the home.
How it started Okechukwu said Zion Orphanage Home was founded by his wife on February 15, 2003 to cater for parents-less children.
Later on, the home started taking in widows; who does not have relatives to cater for them.
Okechukwu, a trained nurse, was working in Lagos state before she relocated to Abuja in 2001, to set up a palm oil business.
However, God told her in a vision that she should engage in humanitarian services.
She saw a day-old baby girl in a carton in the street on January 16, 2003, and took the baby to the Welfare Office in Abuja.
After two weeks, the FCT welfare officers brought the baby back to her to nurse and it suddenly occurred to her to set up an orphanage home, in line with a revelation from God.
The children Children in the orphanage are brought by the Welfare office.
However, in the event that an abandoned child is picked on the way by a well-meaning Nigerian and brought to the orphanage, the proprietor would take the child to the Welfare Office, where necessary documentation would be carried out before the child can be released to the proprietor to train.
Three nannies, a visiting doctor, two security men and a nurse, form members of the staff.
Population According to him, a total of 25 children are presently under the care of the orphanage, comprising seven young boys, 11 young girls and seven grown-up girls in the boarding school.
The young children attend See the Way Educational Academy, Lugbe, while seven grown-up girls are in Sultan College, Tunuwada, Gwagwalada, Abuja.
However, when Mrs.
Okechukwu suffered a stroke attack in 2015, leading to the husband joining the management of the Home, they considered suspending the adoption of children until she recovers.
Fortunately, no child has died in the Home since it was founded, prompting the consideration of planning a 16th year anniversary next year.
Joy (13), Eunice (5), Emma (11), Bishop (9), Ayomide (2), ThankGod (8), Patrick (10), Supana (7), Princess (7), Rejoice (4), Mary (2) and Kiana (11) were some of the children sighted in the orphanage when this Blueprint Weekend visited on Monday, September 3, this year.
Armed robbery The Home has had two armed robbery attacks: the first on December 16, 2017, and another attack on August 7, 2018.
The motives of the attacks are not clear, as the robbers only succeeded in battering down the door leading to the children’s rooms, but did not kidnap any child; as the robbers fled when the adults in the home raised alarm.
Again, one of the children was once kidnapped by a lady working in the orphanage, leading to the arrest of Mrs.
Okechukwu by the police.
However, she was released when the child was recovered.
Demolition The Widows’ Home, a separate building from the apartment housing the children, was demolished by the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) on August 29, this year, alongside other buildings; on the excuse that they were erected under high tension wires.
This was after the owners of the affected houses were compensated, with Zion Orphanage and Widows’ Home getting N400, 000 in 2016.
Nevertheless, the demolition has rendered the widows homeless; as some of them now loiter the community, while some are enduring temporary accommodation by unwelcoming relatives.
Nevertheless, since 2016, when they were notified to relocate, the Zion Orphanage and Widows’ Home has not been able to afford another home for the widows.
Babies not for sale Okechukwu said the Zion Orphanage and Widows’ Home does not indulge in the selling of babies, because his wife did not set up the home to make money, but because God directed her to do so.
He said that, except with the approval of the Welfare Office, they don’t even give out children for adoption, that many childless couples have approached the Home in the past, but that they have never given in to the temptation of selling babies.
He further said many young girls give birth to children and throw them away; because they could not take responsibility for bringing children into the world.
He said some girls change locations when they get pregnant, because they don’t want people to know about it, and then throw away the babies to return to their old neighbourhoods.
He blamed it on the devil.
He said the home can accept a baby from helpless families if the mother is dead and the father is handicapped.
He, however, said in such a situation, the family would supply the particulars of the child, while the home would notify the Welfare Office for approval and documentation.
Advice to women Okechukwu said it is bad to dispose off a child after nine months of pregnancy and advised every pregnant woman with an unplanned baby to bear the shame and seek the help of her parents or relatives, because it is painful to throw away a child out of helplessness.
He added that he has always directed pregnant girls who approach the home to the FCT Welfare Office, because the home does not have a maternity.
Moreover, they don’t accept babies directly from incapable mothers, except through the welfare.
Sustenance Okechukwu told Blueprint Weekend that the orphanage is being sustained with the occasional donations from visitors who come to identify with the less privileged.
He said some people visit to celebrate their birthdays with the children.
He added that some politicians come to visit the orphanage as a way of touching lives and reaching out to the people, while many Nigerians visit the orphanage just to get the blessings of the children for whatever they are hoping for in life.
He said, through the prayers of the children, some politicians have won elections, while others have secured jobs, built houses or bought cars.
According to him, the children always pray for visitors, whether he or she brought something for the children or not.
He said some visitors, who don’t have money to spare at a particular time, sometimes request for the account number of the orphanage for a donation at a later date, but that not having money or gift should never discourage people from visiting the orphanage, especially as God knows their heart desires.
Challenges Okechukwu said people do not visit the orphanage everyday; perhaps because of the location in a remote village, especially as the road leading to the road is bad in the rainy season.
Therefore, they use their money to run the home when donations from visitors are not enough.
“It is not an easy job.
You can imagine how it is when 25 children eat three times in a day.
We survive by the grace of God, especially with donations from Christians and Muslims.
Someone bought and fixed a new iron door for us after the armed robbery attack last month.
However, there are many challenges we are facing in running the home; financially and materially.
“For instance, schools have resumed for the session and we are expected to pay the school fees for the children.
Our generator was stolen during a robbery attack in December last year and we need a replacement, as the children stay in darkness when there is no public power supply.
Moreover, the children require drugs for their occasional illnesses, just as the homeless widows wandering the community now, because of the demolition of their home last week, need to be accommodated,” he said.