Widows in Nigeria continue to face harmful socio-cultural practices and neglect from the general society, however in this interview with NewsWireNGR’s Managing Editor, Alkasim Abdulkadir, Theodora Eromobor’s initiative “Transformed” is slowly changing the fortunes of Nigerian widows for the better.
1. How are widows faring in the society?
We cannot exactly say that widows are faring well. I would rather say most widows that we have come across are really not having it good right now.
This due to the fact that many widows are susceptible to negative cultural, social and Family practices which have become vices. These practices which should be ordinarily be a source of succor for the bereaved has become a weapon of oppression infringing on their fundamental rights and added to that they can be dispossessed of their offspring out rightly
2. Are there still harmful cultural practices against widows?
Yes,there are: from Family members of the deceased stripping the widows of their belongings most of the time ,to the unwholesome practice of forceful hair shaving. Sleeping with a corpse; drinking the residue water used for bathing the corpse
That said the atrocities vary with location
3. What motivated you to start this awareness, this outreach to Nigerian widows?
Truthfully, God put it in my heart, more so my mom is a widow, and I have always known when growing up that I wanted to help other women like my mom.
It also stems from the desire to ensure that the Children of these women do not go through what I went through emotionally as well as financially
4. What has been the response from the public so far?
Not quite as I projected but I would continue to create awareness until people understand the need to give. Giving is an awesome feeling, besides God expects us as his Children to bless others as he blesses us; to share and most of all show Love to one another. That is the greatest gift. #Love
5. How does one handle the demise of a spouse, are their practical steps to handling such tragedy?
Everybody has particular ways in which they deal with grief; one of the ways to begin to heal is to accept the Loss. Give yourself time, as every day passes it becomes easier. Having and knowing you have a support system helps the healing process faster, knowing you are not alone. This is where we at Transformed come in. We believe that through Love and Help they can begin to heal faster.
6. The project seems to be focused on women, but there are men who have also lost their wives, are they included?
Yes they are. We are working on reaching the men and letting them know there is nothing to be ashamed of. Its ok for them to come forward, it doesn’t make them weak.
7. In what ways is the project supporting widows at the moment?
Presently, we are raising funds and creating awareness on the plight of the widows. We also as much as possible teach them what their rights are as Nigerians. However our Ultimate goal is to empower them, not just give them the fish but teach them to fish through Skills Acquisition , education and training on Small and Medium scale business models and opportunities, Legal aid and assistance where necessary, General wellness and adoption of healthy lifestyles. Support to both the new single parent and children, creating and fostering camaraderie and much more…
8. What other projects do you have planned in the coming months?
We are Organising another Fitness Walk at the end of October, within that period the women will begin their Transformation in some or all of what I mentioned earlier.
9. At the moment any support from government, organisations and the public yet?
None from the government yet but a few individual organisations and persons have been very supportive. For example:
Westernice Body shop conducted heath checks and gave them drugs needed after diagnosis during the past event so also Cypress Eye Center conducted eye checks for the widows and Orbis Consulting donated Cash
While Chicken Capitol provided food while N and N Smoothies Bar provided health drinks, several individuals have also come forward with provisions.
Children often times are the most vulnerable, are there any programs for them under this project?
Yes, I am encouraging people to pick a child and sponsor while they of course still live with their widowed mothers. We at Transformed will also provide them assistance in their education
?10.For those who want to reach out to you, what’s the best way to get across?
We have a Facebook page called Transformed, Twitter – @erboset, Instagram – Transformed_smb and you can call us on 0703-2880405 and 0809-1133055