By Bennett Oghifo
The Lagos Central Council of the International Confederation of the Society of St. Vincent De Paul (SSVP), has said it distributed food items worth about N68m to various households in Lagos during the lockdown called to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President of the Lagos Central Council of the charity Society, Mr. Jude Ohaeri stated this, adding, “This excludes medical bills paid on behalf of some venerable people within the same timeline of March – April, 2020.”
On the areas covered by the society during these trying times, he said, “We covered the entire Lagos, reaching out to over 23,800 households and 1,000 inmates of correctional centres. We used about 130 conferences in the parishes of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.
“Before the challenges posed by COVID-19, our normal work as a society in the church is to provide interventions to help the poor and the needy in the various jurisdictions our conferences are located. ‘
“These interventions include payment of medical bills, school fees, empowerment through skills acquisition, Prison Apostolate, provision of food ration, accommodation for the homeless, etc. Post COVID-19, we shall continue with these interventions because it is our vocation.
“The spirituality of church and rules put in place by our local ordinary, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos guide our operations. We also belong to the laity council in our archdiocese.”
On how the SSVP gets its funding, he stated that “We get our funding from our benefactors, contribution of our members and donations from various parishes in the Archdiocese of Lagos.”
In this regard, he appealed to government to also support the work of charity, adding that “as at today, we have not gotten any assistance from any level of government but it is something we will cherish. Because the services we render complement or lift a bit of the burden government is obliged to carry. We also seek more support from corporate organizations. We are hampered by paucity of funds and enough hands to carry out our work of charity, especially in this time we find ourselves.”
Looking forward, he said the society intends to improve on the training of members in line with changing trends in the country and build more homes to take care of the homeless, the aged, skill acquisition centers and rehabilitation centre for drug addicts.
SSVP is a Charity society founded in Paris, France in 1833 and domiciled in the Catholic Church, and the charity works of this society commenced in 1960 in Nigeria when the first Conference was found in Ebute-Metta, Lagos.
He added that the work of the society which is channeled through its conferences (units) in over 150 parishes in the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, entails attending to the less privileged by distribution of food items, medical attention, petty business set ups, among others.