Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
In a quest to uphold the legacy of the late founder, Board of Trustees, (BoT), Marian Soup Kitchen, a N300 million skill acquisitions and humanitarian centre located in Gwagwalada, Abuja, has resumed the feeding of prisoners, the needy and the poor across the country.
The Centre, set up a year ago by late Father Willy Ojukwu, aimed at promoting inter-religious harmony from the grassroots, feeding of the hungry and counseling the downtrodden in the society has been a ghost of itself after the shock demise of the founder barely a year since its establishment.
Chairman, Board of Trustees, Marian Soup Kitchen, Sir Emmanuel Ndubuisi Mbaka, while briefing newsmen at the sidelines of activities marking one year of the centre, said, â€œWe are sober, however, today is the first anniversary of the founder of this congregation, Mariam Soup Kitchen, Late Rev father Willy Ojukwu. Thirty-four years ago, he was ordained a Catholic priest in Nigeria.
â€œToday, after all most nine months of his demise, we, the members of his Board of Trustees, we are his apostles. He left us just the way Jesus left his disciples to continue his legacy as the founder of Mariam Soup Kitchen, which has a common goal to give food to the needy and to the poor while converting them or teaching them Christianity.â€
Mbaka stated that it was the first time the BoT would take it upon itself to continue from where the late Ojukwu stopped.
According to him, â€œAbsolutely, this is the first time after his death that we are going back to continue from where he stopped and we will sustain it every week, feeding prisoners across Nigeria. Let me also use this opportunity to let Nigerians know that Mariam Soup Kitchen here in Gwagwalada is the first starting point for use. We intend to expand this very idea across Nigeria.â€
The chairman, while speaking further, solicited the help of Nigerians to keep the late father’s dream alive by contributing their quota in order to feed the less privileged in the society.
â€œMy message to Nigerians is to emulate the gesture of father Ojukwu and to also support us who are his followers. Because we cannot do it alone; we need the support of all Nigerians because the people we invited to come and have access to Mariam Soup Kitchen are not restricted to any religion.
â€œMuslim and Christian alike, so, I want to appeal to all Nigerians to please, come to our aid. The church has always been a charity place, as far as the Mariam Soup Kitchen is concerned; it is a continuation of what the church knows how to do best,â€ he said.
Speaking in a similar vein, Member, BoT. Mr. Austin Ejire, said, â€œwell, we have to keep this project running by expanding our scope to see how we can reach as many good-spirited Nigerians as possible to make sure that they continue to assist us to feed the less privileged.â€
According to him, â€œWe are beggars for the beggars. So, that is how we are going to do it going forward. Yeah, it has been so difficult over the last one year because, we are shocked with the death of Father Ojukwu.
â€œStarting from where he stopped has been a difficult assignment. We could have continued immediately but, we needed to get over the shock, which we have done. So, now, we are ready, we are determined to carry on with the feeding of the less privileged in our society most especially, the prisoners in the FCT.â€
He said, â€œWe are going to Kuje today where we intend to feed about 1,000 prisoners. After that, we will go to Suleja, and from there we go to Zuba. As far as this project is concerned, today, we have spent close to about N200,000, because a lot of logistics is involved.
â€œSo, we are calling on Nigerians to key in and anyway they can support us to make sure that a place like this continues functioning so that we can enjoy the benefits of having a place like this. Well, my message to other members of the board of trustees is not to give up. We are not being paid; itâ€™s just a service to humanity and our reward is in heaven,â€ he added.