Chairperson Eagle Group of Companies and co-Pastor, Winning Power Ministries International, Mrs. Eunice Iferi-Chukwuemeka, is the brain behind, Stop Hurting People Foundation, a nongovernmental organisation that rehabilitates destitute recovered from the streets. In this interview with MARY NNAH, she talks about her uncontrollable yearning to take care of the less privilege, widows and the hurting in the society and most importantly, how passing through difficult seasons has been the driving force behind the establishment of her foundation
What informed your decision to start Stop Hurting People Foundation?
The driving force is a long story. Well, I have been through seasons in my life that makes me understand that sometimes, people react to things as a result of what they pass through. A very pleasant person can turn sore because of a situation she has passed through.
The truth is that, I was once married to someone else before I met my present husband. My husband is as handsome and lovely as my late husband. In fact if you saw both of them together, you would say they are twin brothers. The first time my mother saw him, she asked if I was going to marry my late husband’s brother. I told her they were not related at all. My late husband was from Delta State while my present husband is from Anambra. For a long time before my mother passed on she was never comfortable being in my husband’s company because she and my late husband were very close. He died in a mysterious circumstance. He was 36 years old while I was 28 when he died. While my friends were yet to be married, I was long married and I was so pampered by my late husband, I was like his baby and he was my first boyfriend.
So, I was in a coma for a very long time when he died by the time I come back to life, I didn’t have my mind any more. I even forgot I had a daughter because I lost my mind completely at that time and when I recovered, I recovered to a terrible vexation.
More so, because I was ordained a pastor at 16, I became born again at nine years old , not just going to church, I was Archbishop Benson Idahosa’s spiritual daughter. When I was to marry my late husband, he didn’t know him but he wrote me a letter saying to me to marry him. In fact he simply put it as, “avail yourself the opportunity of marrying him. Do not say no to him” And that was about the time my late husband was asking my hand in marriage. So, I married my late husband at 21. Then I had a lot of suitors but I was not interested even in a relationship; it was just God and church. But I eventually married him and we were very close. So, I was very angry. I didn’t want to marry at such young age when a lot of my friends were still very single but I had to get married because of the instruction from God. Now, I was asking God, if you asked me to marry him, why take him away? I was so angry with God. I said to God that I was going to make a mess of myself to make you feel bad like you made me feel because You led me thus far and then gave me this heat. That was a man who taught me how to be a woman and everything, so why just take him away. I tried not to serve God but I couldn’t stop serving God. At a point, if you saw me reading the Bible, I was only searching for passages where I will find what to do to annoy God so much. And then I stumbled onto a passage that says, “My body is the temple of God” and said I was going to mess up this body so much that God will be angry with me but I still couldn’t. God didn’t let me do that.
Even when the late Apostle Gabriel Olusegun Oduyemi of Bethel Ministries Incorporated, Worldwide on the one year anniversary of my late husband, said to me, ‘God told me that He is returning back your late husband to you.’ I said, ‘daddy leave that matter, God is used to lying.’ I said so much rubbish with my mouth because of the pains I went through.
And then God just used my present husband to comfort me. It was a big sorry God said to me by giving him to me as a husband after my late husband died. If you knew my late husband, you would never believe they were not brothers – they are same age, same height, and they are nice the same way. In fact they are same in all ways. God made sure I missed nothing in my late husband.
So, when people go off the mark, I’m there to pick them and provide them succour because I know certain situation must have pushed them into such situation. It’s so sad but I tell you that many people have died in pains. Many people have lost their minds while others have lost their character. Many women are on the streets today because of the pains inflicted on them and we do not know what it is. So, we can’t condemn them. That’s how the foundation came about. So, it’s the need to see somebody get a lift that drives me. It is also to make sure that whatever I suffered nobody suffers such things. So, the passion for people in pains is what basically drives me daily.
Now what has made me start this foundation that deals with girls in a mess is that, if God was not after my case even as dogged as I was at that time to go fight God back, not knowing that God cannot be fought, my life would have been a wreck in the hands of men because I said I was going to mess my body up and make God know how disappointed I was. I married my late husband as a virgin, so what did I get for it? But you see, everywhere I wanted to put my head God blocked me. Eventually, I reckoned with God.
So, there are many girls who are wrecks in the hands of men today because they are angry but all of us look at them and shake our heads in disgust because we feel that sleeping with a man that is not your husband is prostitution. But why do have to condemn them? Certain circumstance must have pushed them there and that is why I refused to condemn them because I don’t know what is responsible for the pain they are going through. So rather, let’s go and help pick them up. So, as an NGO, we recover prostitutes from the streets; we recover wayward boys and all of them are today transformed persons. So, we create transformation and that’s what we do to help our society for now. And that is how the NGO was born – Stop Hurting People Foundation. I don’t know who is hurting who but we should just stop.
How long have you been doing this?
I have been doing this officially for 11 years; but before then when it wasn’t even registered, I was doing a lot with my late husband even before I met this great man of God that eventually became my husband.
What has the impact been like?
The impact has been incredible because we have recovered over 300 youths from the streets and they are all rehabilitated. We have given hope to widows and their children. We have 36 children in various schools; we have built businesses for people, we have given cars to people that need cars. Part of what this organisation does is fight for widows whose rights have been denied regarding their inheritance. When I see any widow in such situation, I am ready to fight to finish because I have gone through such situation. I met my late husband while he was doing his youth service. I was also a corper. We got married soon after our youth service and started life together from the scrap. I knew when he made his first million, when he got his first car and many other things we acquired together and God blessed us with a daughter. When he died I was not inheriting him, but rather we were co-owners of all we owned. Now, his family wanted to inherit what we have both worked for even while we had a child between us. I was in court for 16 years on this case. I owed my lawyer millions of naira on the case. By the eighth year I got tired and said let them go with whatever they wanted, but that was when my present husband came to my rescue. He persuaded me to fight to finish. He called my lawyer and paid off his fee and took it up.
Many women out there may not be as lucky as I am. So, the essence is for the foundation to be husband to that hurting widow who has no one to stand by her. We have a legal department and we have lawyers who work for us as volunteers to fight for their rights and ensure that women do not suffer after losing their husbands. So, I can tell you that hundreds of people have benefitted from this foundation.
What are your challenges?
Our major challenge is finance. We need money to meet people’s numerous needs. No assistance for now except from one or two people. So, we need assistance from well-meaning Nigerians. Like recently we had a programme where over 100 people benefited from free eye screening and glasses. We had more than hundreds that screened for sugar level, blood pressure etc. Even police officials were not left out as most of them were present in their droves to be attended to. We still have plans to do more and so we need individuals, government and private organisations to come to our aid.
What is your biggest goal for the foundation?
To be able to create so much transformation that it will begin to fall as shadows in nation. I don’t believe that transformation is the sole business of government. If you have been in any form of leadership, and you are not being political you will understand the predicament of government. I say this not because I belong to any party but because I’ve been in leadership position from childhood so I do not for any reason castigate leadership. My dream is to make sure that this foundation is empowered enough to do as if we were raised to assist the government and to help the women and the girl-child to stabilise in their chosen field of endeavours.
What else do you do apart from running the foundation?
I had my first degree in English Linguistics from University of Uyo; Diploma in Management and then I abandoned a masters in International Relations and Criminal Law at the University of Lagos because of my tight schedule at that period but then I’ve always worked for myself. I’m the Chairperson of the Eagle Group of Companies. I am the also the co-pastor of Winning Power Ministries International. I also run Destiny Moment with Eunice, the media arm of the foundation purposely set up to mentor people. When you recover people from the streets and try to transform them, you would agree with me that transformation must start from the mind. What we do is that after having taking them off the street, we try to counsel them by bringing in successful men and women who have passed through what they are currently going through to talk to them, letting them know that that there is nothing new under the sun. We bring in such people who are role models in the society to tell their stories. This no doubt will make them to be purposeful in their hearts to overcome their challenges.