Okonkwo (2nd left) cutting the birthday cake with his wife and son while deputy governor Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke, looks on

Peter Uzoho writes that the Chief Executive Officer of Great Source Group, Chief Emeka Okonkwo, as part of activities marking his 50th birthday celebration raised money for their upkeep of the less-privileged

For children of the Victorine Home for Children, Gwarinpa, Abuja, it was an early Christmas as a charity ball was held in their honour last weekend to raise money for their upkeep.

The event which took place at the Rabby Recreational Park, Life Camp, Abuja, was hosted by Anambra businessman and Chief Executive Officer of Great Source Group by Chief Emeka Okonkwo, as part of activities marking his 50th birthday celebration.

Dignitaries, including the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Nkem Okeke, who led the Anambra delegation that included the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Solo Chukwudobelu, Chief Chido Obidiegwu (SSA Events to Governor Willie Obiano) among others, graced the occasion.

Okonkwo, in visiting and donating to the upkeep of children of the Victorine Home and other orphanages, could be said to be in familiar tack on what he had been doing before now. This year’s episode, which coincided with his golden jubilee anniversary, saw him organising an elaborate party aimed at projecting the institute by utilising his high-end social and business network to pull together over 400 friends and associates to identify with the Home

The Victorine Home for Children, is a special foster home established by the Catholic Sisters of Jesus the Redeemer Congregation and their associates, to care for the children of imprisoned mothers, children of the insane, abandoned babies, orphans and other such children going through difficulties.

Reverend Sister Bridget Obiekwe, one of the administrators of the home, explained: “we call it a foster home for children going through difficulties, such as children of prison inmates, children of insane women on the streets, who obviously cannot take care of their children in such conditions and other abandoned children and orphans who have nobody to care for them. The idea is to bring these children out of the prison environment and other challenging environments to an environment of a home, where they will be taken care of with love and parental guidance. We take care of them and ensure they go to school. When they get to the secondary school age, we move them to boarding schools and continue to take care of them until they are reunited with their mothers after their prison terms. And in a case of a life imprisonment, they are reunited with a willing next of kin to their mother. But we only take these children from the prison with the consent of their mother.”

She added that the Victorine Home was delighted when Okonkwo decided to host his birthday with the interest of the indigent children of the institute at heart.

Speaking at the event, Okonkwo, who said that God has been so gracious to him, appealed to his guests to convert whatever birthday gifts intended for him to cash and cheque, addressed to the children home.

On why he chose to focus his milestone birthday celebration to the benefit of these needy children, he said: “Although I have always lived a life of giving, but at this age, more than ever before, I have come to realise that service to humanity is the purpose of life and living. I believe that people should give wholeheartedly to the uplifting of humanity. God has been gracious to me and has given me a lot of opportunities, now it’s time for me to give back.

“The thought to celebrate with these children of Victorine Home came to my mind back in August when I went to Canada to spend some time with my children who are schooling there. As we were having a nice family time together, I felt some kind of emptiness seeing the kind of opportunities that my children enjoyed compared to these indigent children who have nobody apart from Sisters of Jesus the Redeemer Congregation who are putting all they have to care for them. So, I decided to have a special event where I would bring my influential friends to join hands with me to not only bring smiles to the faces of these children but also invest in their education and better life.

“Asking my friends and associates to channel whatever birthday gifts they had intended for me to the benefit of these children doesn’t mean that all my desires are met but I believe the gifts would add more value to the lives of the children than mine.”

The deputy governor, Okeke, commended Okonkwo for this exemplary gesture, describing him as a “good friend.”
He added, “Emeka’s life is all about giving. He is so generous that sometimes you don’t even know how he does it and how you will ever pay him back for all his generosity. That is why I’m glad to be part of this day of his hitting the golden age.

“We are here to celebrate a man that believes in humanity, a man that likes to touch lives positively; a man that exudes optimism. He gives and gives. And I tell people that the race for heaven is here on earth. It is here you show your passion for humanity, it is here you show love to your fellow man, especially the downtrodden. So, we have to encourage Emeka to continue doing the good work.”

The chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Victorine Home, Okechukwu Onyejiuwa, while commending Okonkwo for his kind gesture, described him as a man with a golden heart, adding that he is “extremely generous and can go an extra mile to make people around him happy and also go an extra mile to uplift the downtrodden.”

Other speakers, that included his business associates, friends and relations, also affirmed Okonkwo’s generous nature and kind heartedness.

His wife, Mrs. Rose (a Chemical engineer and senior manager at the NNPC), after serenading him with a special rendition at the event, noted: “my husband, Emeka is too kind and generous to a fault. He can give out his last kobo. That is where we are different. But I have come to accept that, especially when I realised that such generosity endears him to many, which accounts for the number and quality of guests, here, today and all the kind words spoken about him. I’m proud of him.”

Other dignitaries at the event were Barrister Tony Ojukwu, Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission, Barrister Like Anele, MD, Pipeline and Storage Company Ltd, Dr. Aliyu Bello, Gusau, Executive Secretary PTDF, Chief S.N. Okeke, former chairman of the Police Service Commission, Engineer Onochie Anyaoku, former GED, Rifining and Petrochemical, NNPC, among others.

The high-point of the event was the presentation of special songs and dance by the children of the home who looked radiant and joyous as they danced and enjoyed the warmth, love and recognition of the August guests, in their honour.