We recently received at ECUDOMEF (Eze Cletus and Ugoeze Dorothy Oparaoji Memorial Education Foundation), what would be considered a Save-Our-Soul (SOS) message from a recipient of our scholarship program, from a rural African community, Amuzi, Mbaise in Imo State, Nigeria. The message reads thus “…..Sir please help us! The education system in our community Amuzi is collapsing very dangerously. Our only secondary school- Community Secondary School Amuzi, has had its final year certification examinations- the West African School Certificate (WASC) and National Examination Council (NECO) results withheld for two years in a row, and is now disqualified from fielding candidates for the West African School Certificate examination. The school as we speak doesn’t have the final year class- the Senior Secondary 3 (SS3) class. This troubling situation is as a result of the bad government we have here, resulting in lack of teachers and consequent examination malpractices. The shortage of teachers also extends to the three elementary schools in our town, each averaging about 300 students, but none with more than 5 teachers! It is very disturbing that a town that prides itself as bastion of education, a staunch Christian/Catholic town that has produced dozens of professors, priests, captains of industries, found itself in such hopeless situation. Sir, if we wait for government, it might be too late to salvage this generation and our future. We have so many retired teachers in our town that can be engaged to help provide teaching instructions, at the secondary school and the three elementary schools. Please sir, help us!”
Given that ECUDOMEF was already doing projects in the community, which could be jeopardized by this poor state of affairs, we didn’t hesitate to decide to do something, which is to raise funds to secure additional twenty (20) teachers, to ensure that there are at least ten teachers in each of the four schools, to achieve a student-teacher ratio of about 30:1- which although an improvement, is double what obtains in developed climes like the United States, where the average national ratio is 16:1. Studies have shown that larger student-teacher ratio, creates an undue burden on the educator, whose time is inefficiently consumed by efforts other than, giving attention to individual needs of students or quality of instruction- such as disciplining pupils or gaining their attention. It is widely accepted that a solid elementary and high school foundation, correlates with high college enrollment and enhanced economic well-being of rural residents and communities.
ECUDOMEF, although currently has on going scholarship and medical outreach programs in this community, however this current challenge is beyond our financial capacity.
It is against this background that we are asking for your help, to raise the needed funds to hire the much needed teachers to check this erosion of education in this rural African community. If you would like to help with this Sponsor-a-Teacher campaign, then please donate generously, and influence and motivate your family, friends and associates to do the same.
The estimated cost of this initiative, per academic year (9 months), at an average monthly stipend of $100 per month per teacher, and $2000 per month for 20 teachers, will be $18,000.
Patients being attended to at the free Health Fair
The day started with mass at the St Jude’s Catholic Church Amuzi, Ahiazu, Imo State, Nigeria, in remembrance of Their Royal Highnesses, Eze Cletus and Ugoeze Dorothy Oparaoji, the Late parents of Professor Edward Oparaoji, the founder of ECUDOMEF (in honor of his late parents), and Professor (Mrs.) Viola Onwuliri, Nigeria’s Honorable Minister of State for Education-the Founder of PROFOUND (in honor of her late husband, Professor C.O.E. Onwuliri). The church service was also in memory of Professor Celestine O.E. Onwuliri, the late husband of the Honorable Minister, for whom PROFOUND was established. The service concluded immediately after the ECUDOMEF scholarship winners for 2014 were unveiled. The visibly elated winners were John Onyekwella, Anaejionu Tina Mary Ada, Obasi Emmanuel, Ago Mayriam, Opara Chidalu and Amadi Cynthia.
Five of the six scholarship winners pose for photograph.
Following this was the “Food for the Needy” segment of the program which served nutritious hot meal to over 500 needy elderly, children and widows.
Felix Chukwu, Chairman Federal Road Safety Commission (left) and Her Excellency, Professor (Mrs) Viola Onwuliri, Minister of State for Education (middle) at the ‘Food for the Needy’ section.
While this was still going on, a select team of ECUDOMEF and PROFOUND staff, joined by some dignitaries including the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Rev. Ifeanyi Nwoye, the Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, MacJohn Nwabiala, Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe Univrrsity, Awka, Prof. Joseph O. Ahaneku, a former military administrator, Air Commodore Luke Ochulor (rtd), Chairman of Federal Road Safety Corps, Chief Felix Chukwu and others, proceeded to conduct inspection and commissioning of some projects executed by PROFOUND. These included a three-bedroom bungalow for a widow, Mrs. Juliet Akanwa and a Community Town Hall for the Umu-Okoro village. Also in display were items(community-made snacks, detergents, cakes etc) produced by beneficiaries of PROFOUND Youth Empowerment and skills acquisition Projects.
- Onwuliri Commisions PROFOUND projects flanked by Prof and Mrs. Joseph .O Ahaneku (Vice Chancellor Nnamdi Azikiwe University).
- The 2014 volunteer medical staff of more than 50 which comprised General Practitioners, Internists, pediatricians, pharmacists, ophthalmologists, gynecologists, optometrist,s nurses, Laboratory technicians etc. evaluated and treated patients for high blood pressure, diabetes, gastrointestinal ailments, joint pains, malaria, eye disorders and other illnesses..
- In his speech, the Chairman of the occasion, the Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Rev. Ifeanyi Nwoye commended ECUDOMEF and PROFOUND and their sponsors for their positive contributions to improving the quality of lives in rural communities in Nigeria. He said “This is a vivid proof that improving the lives of our people must not be dependent on government alone. Organizations like these and people of goodwill have a role.” The Hon. Minister Professor Viola Onwuliri who doubles as Board Chairman for ECUDOMEF and as founder of PROFOUND, said “we will give glory to God for the success of today’s program. While our organizations will continue to do our best to alleviate the hardship in rural communities like these, partnership with a caring government is vital. In this regard, I wish to commend President Goodluck Jonathan, whose transformation agenda continues to provide an enabling environment for donor or sponsor organizations to get involved. I urge you to support him and vote for him in the upcoming election.”
Also speaking on the occasion, elder brother of the minister, Prof. Eddy Oparaoji, disclosed that over 300 indigent school children have benefited from the ECUDOMEF scholarship scheme since inception 25 years ago. He disclosed that six new persons are benefiting from the 2014 scholarships and congratulated them on emerging successful in the screening exercise and urged them to take advantage of the opportunity.According to him, the beneficiaries will continue to have access to their organizations career and educational counseling resources for as long as they need them.ECUDOMEF Founder/CEO Prof Eddy Oparaoji Speaking at Event. (From left HMSE, Prof Mrs V.A Onwuliri, Deputy Gov Enugu State Rev Ifeanyi Nwoye, Dr. Mrs M. N. Oparaoji, and VC of NAU Prof J Ahaneku).
Encouraged by the concrete accomplishments of both foundations. Mr. Donatus Okwu of the Managed Health Care Services Ltd, Lagos, said his establishment, which commenced operation in 1997, would partner with them to execute the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). He then gave a N50,000 grant, enough to enroll 3 persons into the NHIS program for one year!
Other officiating board members of ECUDOMEF team present were Dr (Mrs) Marcellina Oparaoji –co-founder, Mr. Ndubuisi Oparaoji, Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Nwigwe, Mrs Nwamaka Oparaoji, Dr (Mrs) Ijeoma Dozie, Dr Chinemerem Onwuliri, Mr Emeka Oparaoji, Engr Ken Onwuliri, Engr. Tochukwu Onwuliri, Engr. George Nwigwe, Professor Ignatius Onyeocha and Dr (Chief/Mrs) Franka Onyeocha.
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.