..seeks partnership with EU on various initiatives
The First Lady of Ondo State, Chief Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu on Thursday, May 18, 2023, paid a courtesy visit to Ms. Samuela Isopi, the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) at the organization’s headquarters in Abuja.
The purpose of the visit was to seek a partnership between the EU and the office of the First Lady, Ondo State.
During the meeting, Her Excellency Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu gave insights into her various projects which include fighting gender-based violence and empowering the girl-child.
Describing herself as a “woman of many parts”, Chief Akeredolu spoke on her varied passions covering various areas such as aquaculture, public health and renewable energy.
She said that on becoming First Lady she utilized the strength of her platform in organizing annual summer boot camps for secondary school girls aged nine years old to fifteen years old to promote their skills.
“I promote the teaching of renewable energy to young adolescents who are girls in secondary schools from JSS1 to SS2 as well as ICT and life-enhancing Skills. It is one of my passions.
“I also recognized that power was a challenge and here we have solar technology at our fingertips. We have the sun. We introduced solar technology in the training of the girls,” she said.
She noted that the girls were also equipped with the tools such as laptops and solar equipment to ensure that they don’t forget what they have been taught at the boot camp.
“We were able to give our girls brand new laptops and a solar home system that has three bulbs and can also charge their laptops and phones.
“When these girls get home they make a video and show us and when you see where they are coming from you will realize that if you didn’t give them the tools all your efforts would have been wasted because many of them do not have electricity.
We have been organising the summer bootcamp since 2017 having trained over 3000 secondary school girls from Ondo State and beyond in last six years. Initially, we started with training 100 girls and in subsequent years 200, 250, 300 and 400. Now we train 400 girls at a time for two weeks and the transformation is amazingly heart-warming.
She said that her Bemore Empowered also enlightens girls by letting them realize that they can be more than what society ascribes them to be.
The Ondo State First Lady revealed that her Bemore Empowered Initiative has taught adolescents experiencing period poverty how to make reusable sanitary pads. The Initiative also teaches girls the importance of a well-balanced diet, and fitness as well as educate them on breast and cervical cancer.
“They know how to do breast examinations. They are all breast cancer advocates in their communities which are areas where the disease is not regarded as a medical issue but a spiritual issue,”
She said the girls are taught taekwondo for self-defence to protect them against gender-based violence as well as various skills such as makeup and arts which has enabled them to earn a living.
On another initiative of hers- the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN), Anyanwu-Akeredolu, a 26-year breast cancer survivor said that the initiative boasts six chapters nationwide and is run by dedicated staff passionate about preventing as well as fighting the disease.
Responding, Ms Isopi lauded the Ondo State First Lady’s “beautiful “passions”.
“I can see the difference you are really making in transforming the lives of those girls. 400 young girls translate to 400 households,” she said.
The EU Ambassador said that the organization currently have programs funded together with the European Union member states.
“We hope that we can find a way to mutualize our efforts in terms of specific support to your foundation.
We can also see how we can support your efforts in terms of visibility”. she said.
During the courtesy visit, Ms Leila Ben Amor Mathieu, the Team Leader/Head of the Human Development Section of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS gave an insight on the various social development projects being funded by the EU member states which include healthcare, renewable energy and digital skills.
Story Credit: Tobiloba Fademi
Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media (Office of the First Lady)