For the past 12 years, founder, Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC), Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo along with his wife, has shouldered an annual empowerment programme for widows in Osun State. But for this recent edition, he decided to go extra mile by empowering larger number of widows. At the last edition, which took place at the Kings University, Ode-omu, over 17,000 widows across over eight local government areas in Osun State were empowered with food, drinks, cloth and with estimated cash of 17million naira.
The 25-year-old Fausat Adeyanju, a mother of three, who resides in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, joined the league of widows a year ago after losing her husband to the cold hands of death. Fausat shared her story with THISDAY how she has been struggling to cater for her three children alone.
“My husband died in 2017 and since then life has been upside down. I have been trying to earn a living to ensure my kids get the best but it has not been easy with three kids. Rashida on my back is just a year and some months and my first born is eight years old. Coming here today is a privilege, a friend of mine told me about this programme. God bless Pastor Ashimolowo and wife,” she said.
Mrs. Omotosho Omotayo who was also a beneficiary of the programme narrated how death claimed her husband from her eight years ago and left her alone to raise the children through rough and tough times.
“My husband died in 2010. I have been coming every year for the past seven years. The very first time I was invited for this programme, I never wanted to come but I decided to give it a trial to confirm what I have been hearing. God will bless Pastor Ashimolowo because he has been a blessing to us the widows. I also pray for my children to grow up and be like him,” she said.
The 2018 widows empowerment programme according to Pastor Ashimolowo featured eight local government areas; Isokan, Ikire, Aponmu, Ikoyi, Osogbo, Ile-Ife, Modakeke and Ode omu, with total expenses of over 60 million naira.
Addressing the journalists during the empowerment exercise in Osun, Ashomolowo noted that the programme has been designed to remember and celebrate with the widows, giving them food, drinks, cloth and money irrespective of their religion as well as feed them with the word of God.
“It started 12 years ago with just about 380 widows, the next year, it blossomed into 850 widows and at 10 we started rolling out in thousands. This year, we have astonishing number of 17,000. There is a lot of needs in Nigeria so what we are doing is not much. We are giving them food, drink, new cloth for each one of them and some money. This is not an initiative of KICC but that of my wife and I with the supports from friends. We have people who flew all the way from London and England to support this mission.
“My vision for the future is that with 17,000 this year, it should be something that should metamorphose into something bigger than just giving the widows. We want to start a ministry call, Christ compassion to the rural and we want to hit the rural with six levels of needs we want to meet. One of them is that we are going to bring hospitals, where up to five surgeries can be done at a time. For this event, we thought we will be spending 50 million naira but so far, we have spent over 60 million naira,” he said.
Speaking further, he urged Nigerian politicians to come together to battle poverty in the country.
“There is poverty in the country and we believe that the nation can do more. Let those that have enough remember the needy. There is need in the country and I can only challenge the government to look into five Es ; Economy, Electricity, Environment as in agriculture, Engineering as in a mechanise and industrialise nation, Electronic as in driving into information system. Nigeria economy is working, we need our leaders to put aside politics, religion and culture and look into our country holistically. We need a plan that can change the affairs of the country,” he added.
As a mother, Mrs. Yemisi Ashimolowo expressed her joy empowering the widows as she charged them to move closer to God. “It’s a privilege to be of help to the widows because it’s about touching lives. This is an assignment that God gave me and my husband. This is the 12th year that we have been doing this and we thank God that has been giving us this opportunity to put smile on the faces of these widows because when you see the joy in them, it makes us glad. I want to encourage widows out there that they are not forgotten, God loves them and will surely take care of them.”
Also at the event, Senator Iyiola Omisore commended the effort of Pastor Ashimolowo and his wife, for cultivating the habit of giving to the poor, most especially widows, as he enjoined Nigerians to support the needy with the little they have, adding, “Being a philanthropist is not by wealth but the will to help others no matter how little,” he said.