Ndi Kato is from the ravaged Southern Kaduna in Kaduna State. Touched by the seeming helplessness of her people, she embarked on rehabilitating them in her own little way. Jonathan Eze writes
They are in the cold shade of neglect and misery. To make things worse, the restiveness in the area had made earning a living or even enjoying basic necessities of life a wild goose chase. They are not sure of what will befall them the next minute. They live in perpetual fear. Fear of the marauders who slaughter them every now and then.
Relief came their way from an unexpected source. From one of their own, Miss Ndi Kato from Jema’a Local Government Area, also the founder of Dinidari Empowerment Foundation focused on taking care of displaced and vulnerable persons in the Middle Belt and empowering indigent women.
She is a young politician with focus on ethical leadership and getting more young women into active politics and leadership roles. She has also set up another pet project called ‘Young Women Politico’ to enlighten young women on the need to be active players in development and politics.
Southern Kaduna was not her first point of call. Kato started providing for the displaced in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria long before she registered her non-governmental organisation.
She told THISDAY, “I didn’t even know I was supposed to register an organisation. People saw my work and advised me to register a foundation to formalise it and I did. Thus far, we have been able to provide for thousands of displaced people across the region. We have provided thousands of blankets, detergents, soaps, cooking oil, rice, corn, salt and other items.”
Just last month, Kato’s organisation shared 500 bags of rice between the camps of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Abuja and Kaduna. She also had a Back-To-School programme where displaced children are kitted with notebooks and school bags to help them continue education without hitches.
This woman with a heart of gold does not limit her charity work only to the internally displaced persons. She extends her gesture to less-privileged ones wherever they are found. THISDAY spoke with some of the beneficiaries.
Mr. Gyang Bulle and his wife live in Barkin Ladi. They have triplets, twins and two other children. They revealed that Ndi Kato has been a God-sent to the family. He said words will fail him if he starts recounting what the young lady had done for them. They prayed God to continue to bless and protect her.
Mr. Gideon Agwom Mutum runs the IDP Camp in Takau in Kafachan. Kato provides for the displaced persons through him and he was full of commendation for her assistance. Mutum singled her out as the biggest donor they have as an individual and that the people are already fond of her because she identifies with them and genuinely care about their welfare.
Kato was also in Kafachan donating different items to the Muslim community there. There seems to be no end to her charity.
On how she raises money and other items she distributes, Kato said, “An arm of the work we do is Donation Box NG which makes it easier for people to donate fairly used items to displaced people; we place the boxes in strategic places and people can drop off items they want to donate.
“We are currently working on an agricultural ‘outgrower’ scheme to help displaced persons resume farming on leased lands; we will provide the markets for their produce.
“’Sponsor A Child’ is also another programme we have; linking children with people who want to help pay fees and cater for their needs into adulthood. Beyond humanitarian efforts, I have presented academic papers and helped draft policies to improve the region. I am also a member of the Peace and Conflict Resolution team in my constituency.”
Kato believes in the concept of “Care” in leadership and the value of the Nigerian life. She opined that most of the problems Nigeria is faced with right now are based on the fact that there is absolutely no value for the Nigerian life and thus no care for the ordinary Nigerian.
According to her, “this has cost us a lot as a nation; I hope my actions encourage others to pass on the kindness and we have a better nation in the near future. I also love the Middle Belt deeply and I am committed to changing the current negative situation the region is embroiled in. God willing, we will make Nigeria better.”
Kato has some unfulfilled dreams yet. “I have some empowerment schemes I haven’t been able to kickoff. We have one project in Kafanchan where we want to teach the women to make rug rags for sale; we haven’t been able to kick that off. Our agricultural projects are lagging right now due to lack of farm vehicles to aid movement.
“Mobility is key in humanitarian work and we spend heavily on movement of most relief materials; even the moderately sized. A pickup van will go a long way in making distribution much easier. Thus, we spend quite a lot on transportation of goods; this money would have served better in direct expenditure on displaced persons.
“The website needed to link children to sponsors is though expensive but we are working on it. Not having it ready has made our work much more difficult as donors cannot view the profile of the children they want to sponsor. The workload on our staff is quite cumbersome; we are grossly understaffed for the level of work we do and everyone in our organisation is overworked.
“I do not wait for doors to be opened for me, I break them down. I do not wait for opportunities to be handed down to me, I take them. Women should stop waiting to be given a chance to get what they can reach for and take.”
On the increasing agitations by different ethnic groups, Kato said: “Nigeria needs to go back to the drawing table and redraw our terms of agreement based on mutual respect for each other and respect for the Nigerian life. Even beyond Kaduna, Nigerian lives are being wasted daily and because we lack a sense of togetherness, brotherliness, nationhood and mutual respect, no one cares. We need to do better as a people to turn this quagmire around.”
“The government’s duty to its citizens is to respect, protect and provide for them. The Kaduna State Government as well as the federal government need to be sincere in their efforts towards resolving the crisis. Nomadic pasturing should be phased out as it is now marred by insecurity. Northern states need to establish ranches for cattle herders,” she insisted.