"If women are fine, their families will also be fine"
“When a woman is suffering, the entire family suffers,” says Mrs. Noeline Nchekwube Opara-Arji, President of Evergreen Widows’ Support Organisation.
Noeline and her husband, Mr. James Arji have just founded the Organisation to assist poor Nigerian widows. This is in fact the first major project being implemented by this new couple (Noeline and James got married on 19th December 2009 at San Martino Buon Albergo, Verona).
Noeline says they decided to create Evergreen Widows’ Support Organisation after her recent trip to Lagos, Nigeria where she saw several women breastfeeding their babies under a bridge.
Most often, Nigerian widows are mistreated by their dead husbands’ relatives, Noeline says. Without laws defending widow’s rights, many widows are normally sent away empty handed from the family homes.
“Some widows sleep under the bridge with their babies, they can’t afford to either feed or send their children to school, many widows end up becoming prostitutes,” Noeline says, adding that “unfortunately, even young girls are forced into prostitution in order to survive.”
Noeline notes that “It is very common for a Nigerian woman to be blamed for the death of her husband, even if she has absolutely nothing to do with it. If one’s husband has problems or dies, the wife can easily be accused of being a witch, the source of all bad things happening to the husband.”
Evergreen Widows’ Support Organisation is currently building a centre to host some of the widows and their babies. It will also become a training centre where widows can learn and acquire different skills such as tailoring, soap making, candle making, catering, cream production, etc.
Noeline plans to use the land she inherited from her father to build a primary and secondary school in the future.
“I’m very happy that my husband James supports the project. In fact he gives me part of his salary to send to Nigeria to help the needy women,” she says.
“No woman would have something in her purse without giving it to her children. By helping women, we are sure of helping entire families. If women are fine, their families will also be fine,” Noeline says.
Evergreen Widows’ Support Organisation’s email:
By Stephen Ogongo