By Steve Unegbu
(the delegation handing over the food stuffs to the Project Director ,Very Revd Joshua Okpara )
As part of their line up of events to bring development in Igbo land and to reach out to the downtrodden and less privileged ones in the five States of Igbo land, a diaspora based -community of Igbos,known as OGBAKO NDIGBO UNITED KINGDOM and IRELAND, has decided to identify with the Leprosy Center Uzoakoli in Bende L. G. A of Abia state.
( Chief Chijioke and his wife, Lolo Blessing Chijioke ,addressing the Leprosy victims in their community)
Presenting their gifts, which are mainly food stuffs, such as bags of rice and beans, cartoons of Indomine nodules, tubers of yams, cartoons of tomatoes, loaves of bread, among others, to the Project Director of the Leprosy Center, Very Revd Joshua Okpara, the leader of the Ogbako Ndigbo delegation, Chief Engr.Uchechukwu Chijioke, Akaekpuchi onwa I of Alayi Ancient Kingdom, said he was sent by the Ogbako Ndigbo United Kingdom to present the food stuffs to support humanity.
In his words, ” We the community of Igbos in the United Kingdom, decided to donate food stuffs to help our people in the five Igbo states in Nigeria. Our focus and objective is to bring development to Igbo land and to assist the less Privileged and the Downtrodden, we donated food stuffs to let them know that we appreciate them, what they are doing and the sacrifices they are rendering “
(Chief Uchechukwu Chijioke and Lolo Blessing at the office of Project Director)
According to him, ” We decided to support them because they are our Brothers and Human beings ,who are by No choice of theirs, have taken ill and suffering from the disease of leprosy. It is our desire to give them this support to make them feel that they are not forgotten “
( The Project Director in his office, discussing with the delegates)
He lamented the deteriorating condition of the Leprosy Center, describing their visit as an eye opener to the pains and challenges the leprosy center is passing through, while promised speak to his group when he gets back to United Kingdom and also to impress on other communities out there on the need to assist and support the Leprosy Center, so that they will not feel neglected and forgotten.
In her speech, Lolo Blessing U Chijioke, Nne otee II of Alayi Igbojiakuru Ancient kingdom, frowned at the level of dilapidation at the Leprosy center Uzoakoli, pointed out that attention of people usually go to the Motherless Babies home, added that many people do not know about Leprosy centers .
She promised to broadcast it in the various platforms and groups she belongs to, said the Leprosy center challenge will top her priority when she gets back to her base, which according to her, will help change the narratives of the inmates, assuring them that God has not forgotten them.
(Lolo Blessing Chijioke)
In his response, the Project Director, Leprosy Center Uzoakoli, Very Revd Joshua Okpara, commended the Ogbako Ndigbo United Kingdom and Ireland for seeing the need to identify with them, noted with delight that they will not be in existence without people and group like Ogbako Ndigbo United, who will always remember a place like the center.
He pointed out that Leprosy center Uzoakoli is made up of people from different states ,such as Abia, Anambra, Imo, Ebony, and Enugu, said it is not Uzoakoli thing as the impression out there,maintained that 90 percent of the people being treated are not Methodist.
According to him, ” it is not a Methodist Church thing. The majority of the inmates do not have Methodist background. Some many other churches and other stakeholders are supporting the Leprosy center.
(Some of the cured Leprosy inmates in their community with Chief Chijioke )
He lamented on the scarcity of funds to run the place, especially to take care of the inmates, disclosing that since funds are not coming from the German Leprosy Association, who were the major sponsor ,that the Leprosy center Uzoakoli has been facing a lot of challenges.
He however, appealed to government, public and private organizations to come to their help, saying there are many treated and cured inmates that need money to be resettled.
He pointed out that, some of the cured ones, are taken to their various communities for resettlement, after sensitization of their communities to avoid stigmatization .
(chief Uma Udensi and other members at their community)
In his appreciation on behalf of other cured Leprosy members in their community ,Chief Uma Udensi ,expressed happiness over the visit of Ogbako Ndigbo United Kingdom and Ireland ,urging them to continue to remember them in their future plans.