Sunday Ehigiator who was at the Rose of Sharon Foundation Christmas Thanksgiving, which was recently held in Lagos state, writes that it was an avenue to take stock of its various philanthropic activities that touched the lives of widows and orphans across board
At the recently held Rose of Sharon Foundation (RoSF) Christmas Thanksgiving, its founder Mrs. Folorunso Alakija, harped on several successes recorded by the foundation in year 2019 from several programs. Also, which academic excellence among students (orphans) under the care of the foundation, and sacrificial services of widows of the foundation, were equally rewarded with cash prices, to inspire others alike to follow suite.
It was an afternoon of thanksgiving, gratitude, praise and hope as the celebration kick started at the open field of Yaba College of Science and Technology, a school which Alakija is passionately attached to, having graduated from same decades ago.
With the atmosphere filled with laughter, and appreciation for what the founder would later describe as an eventful year for the foundation, the celebrants were honoured by the presence of the First Lady of Lagos State, Mrs. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, who like all patrons and ambassadors of the foundation, didn’t forget to carry along her dancing shoes and heart of gratitude to God.
All in attendance were left in the capable hands of a master of ceremony who treated the mothers; grouped under ‘Team Radical’ and ‘Team Action’, and children to different exciting games, with ‘Team Action’ eventually stealing the show, and prices won by all participants.
As the ecstasy continued, Alakija delivered her address, which she started off by showing gratitude to God. “We are grateful to God for making us see the end of another year, even as we are here, we trust him that we would make it to 2020, we would cross over in Jesus name.
“God has been with us right from the start and he has never left us nor abandoned us. The year 2019 has been an eventful year for us at the Rose of Sharon Foundation. We are thankful and grateful for His goodness and mercies in our lives, for all He has done for us and all we have been able to accomplish and all He is still yet to do.
“This year (2019), we joined the world to celebrate the international widows day on June 22, with the theme, ‘Upholding the Human Rights of Widows: The Law, and Cultural Practices’. And for the first time, the program was celebrated by our foundation in all the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria, with over 3000 participants in attendance.
“The highlight of the program was the medical outreach for widows which included free cancer screening, free dental screening and checkups, free eye screening and gifting of glasses, general health screening and a health talk. And we had different speakers who discussed the issues of negative traditions and their practices against widows, and the remedies provided by law to protect them.
“Also, we recently had the last Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) for the year. We organised two editions of YEP for the year 2019, and these were done in line with our objectives to ensure that our youths are furnished with both knowledge and life skills to help them become self-reliant, support their families and contribute to the social economic well-being of the nation, continent and indeed the world world. And we had a total number of 1,483 participants in attendance.
“We believe it is better to teach people how to fish, than give them fish. As the former is far more sustainable than the later. This informed our decision to develop the skills of our widows, so that they can support themselves and their families on a consistent basis instead of depending on the benevolence of other people for their survival and wellbeing. This Enterprise Development Training Program (EDTP) is our vehicle for carrying out this goal.
“This year, we trained a total of 109 widows in perfumery and body lotion making, interior decorations, tulban making, and shoe making. For our widows empowerment program, we empowered a total of 100 widows this year with interest free loans, to enable them start, or expand their businesses.”
Speaking on the scholarship program and academic award recognition of the foundation, she said, “For the Rose of Sharon Scholarship Program, Academic Awards and Recognition, today we rewarded those students who had excelled in their academic pursuit during the year 2018 to 2019 academic session, by giving out cash rewards to them, just to encourage them and other students to put more efforts in their academics.
“For the primary school award category, we rewarded three students who have a minimum average score of 92 per cent and above. For the junior secondary category, we rewarded three students with a minimum average score of 86.5 per cent and above, while in the senior secondary school category, three students with a minimum average score of 84.7 percent and above were rewarded.
“For the Ordinary National Diploma (OND) category and Higher National Diploma (HND) category, we rewarded three students from each categories, who graduated with the best grades, with cash prices.
“In the Bachelors degree ategory, four students received cash awards today, and in addition to that, I am proud of two students in particular, who graduated among our students with first class. They are, Doyinsola Popoola who had a first class in accountancy from the University of Lagos, and Esther Omolade, who graduated with a first class in Economics, from Olabisi Onabanjo University.
“These outstanding individuals, would be awarded with an all paid master’s degree scholarship to study any course of their choice within Nigeria. We believe that this gesture would inspire other students to strive to attain more academic feats.”
On the recognition award given to widows under the care of the foundation and some volunteer staff of the foundation, Alakija described the recipient as “selfless and sacrificial in carrying out their duties.
“The volunteer awards are for the longest serving volunteer of the foundation who have consistently sacrificed their time to to help out in all of our programs and humanitarian services. They are worth celebrating.”
In a brief remark, Sanwo-Olu felicitated with RoSF in solidarity. She expressed delight at the activities of the foundation over the years and prayed the good Lord reward them for the benevolence.
“I am so happy to be here and I celebrate with the Rose of Sharon Foundation. It is a period when we celebrate with our loved ones and the foundation has been doing this year in, year out. And I am really excited about this traditional attire special designed and made for me by Mrs. Folorunso Alakija.
“May God bless you for putting smiles in the faces of mothers and our children. And God bless the foundation for all the wonderful things you are doing, for the smiles that you are putting on the faces of all Nigerians. May God keep rewarding you. We are one in this, and that is how it is supposed to be. As it is the essence of humanity and the blessings God bestowed us with.”
Speaking with THISDAY having accepted the cash gift of N230,000 and fully paid master’s sholarship gifted to the two first class graduates, Esther Omolade described the gesture as a dream come true.
According to her, “I am very grateful to Mrs Alakija and the entire staff of the Rose of Sharon Foundation for this. This is a dream come true for me, and I can’t thank God enough for this. And puting smiles on my family’s face ones again this year.”
Similarly, Doyinsola Popoola, also a first class winner expressed gratitude to God and the foundation for the gesture.
“I really want to thank the foundation and Mrs. Alakija for this. I am so happy and short of words. May God continue to bless them, increase them, and put smile on their faces just as they have been used to put smiles on me and my family’s face.”