The free medical outreach and Christmas program tagged, ‘Great Joy in the City’ was initiated by the Anglican Church of Transformation Abijo (ACOTA), Ibeju-Lekki to give back to the less-privileged in the society.
This year’s event, being the fifth edition, witnessed the program’s largest turnout with over 2,000 people including children in attendance, with crowd spilling into the adjoining streets.
People came from various destinations to benefit from the free legal aid, medical check-up, drugs, eye screening and free reading glasses, spiritual teaching, counselling, clothing and food items arranged by the church as its Christmas package.
Speaking to THISDAY, Venerable Kiri Wakama, Vicar-in-Charge of the Anglican Church of Transformation, Abijo said, “This program is aimed at alleviating the pains and sufferings of the people within the Abijo community with majority of the donations coming from parishioners of the church and well-wishers.
According to him, “the church is the body of Christ and during His earthly ministry, he went about doing good, it became our inspiration and responsibility. We have enough to go around and if it does not go around, we will plan bigger and better next time.
“The church is not static, we move as we are led and directed because when the program started it was small and over the last five years we have grown in large numbers.
“Last year, we had about 1,500 participants and this year we have over 2,000 people in attendance with more people standing outside the church gates and we are already at full capacity”.
Kiri told THISDAY, “We want people to not regret Christmas because they lack the basic necessities of life, thus we organise this event yearly to celebrate the Christmas season with them so they would not feel left out of the celebrations”.
Barrister Mrs Nengi Kiri-Wakama, Head of Women ACOTA and visionary ‘Abijo for Christ’, said this year’s event outnumbered previous years due to the planning and publication the organisers put into it.
According to her, “the entire church is involved, in terms of giving and helping out because it is an assignment given to us by Jesus Christ here on earth. We organise this program not just to meet the material needs of the people but the spiritual needs as well.
“We gave out over 500 bibles to everyone present to aid their spiritual life and we also have a legal team present since we discovered that some people needed legal aid.
“But couldn’t afford it and we incorporated the legal aid and counselling unit during the third edition to help in such areas like landlord-tenant issues, family disputes and other issues that require legal aid.
“Abijo for Christ is not organised for the church parishioners but for those people in dire need of assistance and help within the community. Church members are not included in this particular project as we already have a program in place to help our members. Our sole focus in this event is the Abijo community in gratitude for accommodating the church”.
She revealed to THISDAY that plans are currently underway to get NGO’s, companies and relevant corporate bodies who will partner the church to take the event beyond the host community and make it not just an annual program but a regular one.
According to her, “finance has been a challenge so far, but our parishioners and well wishers have been very good in the aspect of financial aid. Our budget for this year was about two million but we have already exceeded it due to the current economic situation in the country.”
Mrs Glory Moses a beneficiary of ‘Abijo for Christ’ told THISDAY, “My neighbour invited me to the program that’s why I came. This is my first time here and I am very pleased and grateful to the church for clothes, shoes, medical check-up, free drugs and food stuffs.“
46-year-old Emmanuel Paul who has been coming to the program since the past five years expressed his profound gratitude and was beaming with satisfaction as he went home with new clothes, shoes and food items.
Children were not left out as they were joined in the celebrations with their clothes, shoes, food and gift packs as they participated in the various activities put in place for them.