FOR the residents of Ahiazu Mbaise Local Council of Imo State, it was a special way to say goodbye to 2013, when a philanthropic and humanitarian organisation, Eze Cletus and Ugoeze Dorathy Oparaoji Memorial Educational Foundation (ECUDOMEF), on December 31, showered indigent students with scholarship awards, presented gifts and meals to families and widows as well as organised skill acquisition sensitisation in conjunction with Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) to hundreds of youths.
The event was part of activities marking 21 years of existence of the foundation, established in honour of the late parents of Supervising Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri and her brother, Prof. Eddy Oparaoji.
The one-day activities, which also included a medical outreach, started with an early morning mass at St. Jude’s Catholic Church Parish at Amuzi, where officiating priest, Father Simon Nwachukwu, commended the board of ECUDOMEF for bringing hope and solace into the homes of sons and daughters of Mbaise at the end of each and before the beginning of new year.
During the mass, a member of the foundation and first winner of its scholarship award, Isaac Chibuzor Izunwanne, announced six recipients of scholarship awards as part of activities marking the end of year exercise. The winners are Izunnanne Isaac from Ummodu Community of Mbaise who won a scholarship to study Arts; Njoku Justus (Umuhu, Science); Igbo Chibueze (Umuhu, Social Science; Achihonu G. Joyce (Akonuojibo, Arts); Ogbonna Ugochi (Umunnanwiri, Science) and Columba Okoro from Umuofor, who won an award to read Arts.
Izunwanne said with the emergence of the new winners, the Foundation that was actively coordinated by the late Prof. C.O.E Onwuliri – the husband of the minister – has successfully turned out hundreds of scholarship awardees from the state.
He noted that exactly after 21 years of the Foundation’s philanthropic and humanitarian service, the acronym ECUDOMEF, resonates in the people of Amuzi an intellectual excellence, moral, probity, academic excellence, charity, philanthropies, patriotism, hope of a better future among others.
The board member said it was on record that many beneficiaries of the ECUDOMEF are today “university graduates, many are undergraduates, many are gainfully employed and many are nearing ordination to the Catholic priesthood – to the glory of God.”
Apart from that, he also disclosed that ECUDOMEF sponsors people abroad for greener pasture, the Holy land on pilgrimages, cares and provides for widows and orphans.
According to him, it was on the background of the foundation’s activities that the community as a whole honour and appreciate the life and times of Eze Cletus and Ugoeze Oparaoji, who out of their magnanimity and benevolence, bequeathed to humanity and Amuzi in particular a lasting legacy.
The board also acknowledged the late Prof. Onwuliri, who superintended the affairs of ECUDOMEF for 20 years before his unexpected death in the DANA air crash of June 3, 2012.
It also commended the son of Eze and Ugoeze Oparaoji, Prof. Eddy and his wife, Dr. Mrs. M. Oparaoji as well as Prof. Viola Onwuliri and her family members for tenaciously maintaining the legacies of their parents by making sure that ECUDOMEF’s projects continued. He also thanked all those who in one way or the other have been supportive to the sustenance of ECUDOMEF’s projects.
Later at the skills acquisition sensitization organized for the youths, the minister urged them to make use of knowledge gathered from the programme, which she said was in support of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda.
She said the youth could become pacesetters of Nigerian industrial revolution since information from other climes globally had shown that small-scale businesses grow the economy.
She also pledged that the children and grand children of the late Eze and Ugoeze Oparaoji have resolved to continue to support the activities of the foundation for the betterment of the community.
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