By Clare Ijeoma and Amanyene Joshua
Africa’s largest economy took a hit last year, following soaring inflation, which sits at 28.2%. This was largely because of the removal of decades-long fuel subsidies by the Tinubu administration.
Notwithstanding the dire straits, some charity initiatives managed to bring succour to the less privileged during the Christmas season.
Christmas relief in a poor economy
To aid street sweepers in the tourist city of Calabar, Tom Alims partnered with other benefactors to distribute bags of rice among 24 street sweepers. Three10kg bags of rice were also doled out to a widower, an elderly person and an online friend.
“For the ongoing “Christmas Charity Outreach”, a friend reached out to me from Australia stating that he wants to support what I am doing and asked that I share bags of rice to people and that he is leaving it to my discretion to decide who I will give them to as Christmas gifts. In my original way, I always think out of the box for those who need it. So while thinking, a thought dropped on my mind that the street sweepers in Calabar don’t earn enough. What they earn an entire month cannot take care of the family feeding in one week. So I knew they would be the most preferred people to get these rice gifts. Subsequently, many other friends reached out to me to support this move,” Alims said.
These women, who are between the ages of 50 and 70, earn 5000 naira each month for sweeping 3 to 4 kilometres, despite the heavy risk that comes with the job. A good number of sweepers have reportedly been killed by accidents during duty. Rape and mugging are other associated risks.
For this outreach, Alims headed to Mary Slessor Avenue within Calabar with bags of rice to distribute to these street sweepers who were on duty. He replicated this gesture to sweepers in other parts of the city. The sweepers received the item with gratitude while posing for photographs.
While Alims was doling out bags of rice to street sweepers and street kids in Calabar, Soul Touchers Association, another charity initiative in Enugu, was extending a gesture of charity. They visited Amalla Egazi, a community in Enugu, distributing relief materials, including rice, tomatoes and money, to beneficiaries.
Brendan Chibuike, the co-founder of Soul Touchers, drew inspiration from the story of a woman, now a widow, who had lost all her family property to her kindred after her husband died. Today, Chibuike hopes to reach out to the poor in far-flung areas.
“During festive seasons, we realised that charity groups visit mostly orphanages and motherless babies homes but those in remote villages are hardly reached out to. Our beneficiaries are usually widows, orphans, the sick and abandoned and indigent people in remote areas,” said Brendan.
Dubbed the ‘Land of the Dead,’ Amalla is infamous for its heavy practices of voodoo and sorcery.
Brendan lectures at Spiritan University Nneochi in Abia State, and with support from other Soul Touchers, continues to sustain this outreach every December, impacting about 500 families within 10 outreaches.
To finance this charity, members of the group make free-will donations and also visit campus hostels to solicit money and other resources.
In January 2021, Richard Remigius, a 300-level student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, founded the Richard Chidiebere Remigius Foundation to cater for the needs of orphaned children. Its last outing, tagged Nsukka Orphanage Mega Outreach, reached out to over 200 children.
Not all of these acts of charity have been met with equal gratitude. Some of the needy have rejected this generosity outright.
On one of its pioneer outings, Soul Touchers Outreach visited a remote community in Enugu state to commemorate Christmas. Yet, as Brendan recounted, the group’s choice of fashion—red Polo t-shirts—was misconstrued by the village members.