By Chimezie Godfrey
A non governmental organisation, Sow a Smile Initiative (SASI), in partnership with the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), has distributed palliatives to more than 400 households in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The palliatives consisting of packaged rice, beans, garri and facemasks, were distributed to FCT residents, including security officers, cleaners and low income earners at the Shippers Council Building, Wuse Zone 5 and residents of Jahi 2 community, through the Covenant Baptist Church, Jahi 2.
Addressing participants at the event, the Executive Director of SASI, Mr Patrick Otoro, said that the intervention, tagged “Food on Tables”, is to put smiles on faces of low income earners and vulnerable households without regard to race, religion, creed or gender, especially at this period of COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the globe.
He said that SASI was founded just last month, with the first outing being the humanitarian outreach and that the NGO targets feeding more than one million households in a few years, even as he advised families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to have faith in God for intervention.
“Because of this pandemic, a lot of people have lost their jobs and have no means of income or survival, so it makes us happy to intervene in people’s lives and put smiles on their faces. In fact, our slogan is ‘food on tables’, as we aim to make sure that families have food to eat at this period. Once people are able to smile, then we will be happy and our objectives will be fulfilled.
“As you may know, federal and state governments, through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, distributed palliatives to households during this COVID-19 pandemic, but I am not sure it got to everyone, hence the decision of SASI to reach out to as many households as possible.
“This project is self funded as I believe God has made me reasonably comfortable. In fact, I set up the NGO just last month and this is our first outing.
“However, due to the fact that CBN has been in the field for years, as an organisation that has been carrying out humanitarian interventions, we decided to partner so that we can exploit their contacts and logistics to reach out to target households in different communities.”
Also speaking, the Regional Director of CBN Africa, Dr Felix Oisamoje, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly bad for many families, but that, as a Christian organisation, families must first have food to eat before they can comfortably listen to preachings about God, hence its involvement in humanitarian interventions.
“The truth is that we have been championing the spread of the word of God for years, but we have been doing that by also providing humanitarian aids to families. In fact, It was a thing of joy to us at CBN when SASI approached us for partnership in the provision of palliatives to families in the FCT, through our humanitarian arm, Operation Blessing.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many families, so we have to do our best for them. People cannot listen to the word of God comfortably if they’re hungry. Even Jesus in the Bible fed his followers, so we have to do our best for humanity,” he said.
Showing his appreciation, one of the beneficiaries, Mr Isaiah Tanko, who works as a security officer in Wuse Zone 5, said that it has been difficult feeding his family during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown period, but expressed gratitude to SASI for the humanitarian intervention.
“All I can say is that God will bless SASI and CBN for remembering a nobody like me. I have been finding it difficult to feed my family since the lockdown period, but this rice, beans and garri will go along way to feed my family for weeks. I am so excited and grateful to God. May He continue to bless the NGos,” he said.
Similarly, another beneficiary, Mrs Lilian Amsain, who resides in Jahi 2, said that it was the first time that an NGO would visit the community with palliatives since the COVID-19-induced lockdown and expressed happiness to be among the beneficiaries.
“I was amazed when I was called to partake in the palliatives. As you can see, many people here are Muslims and Christians, so it is not restricted to any sect.
“The palliatives will go a long way in cushioning the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I am glad for the intervention from SASI and CBN,” she said.