-By Albert OGRAKA:
The wife of the governor of Delta state and founder of 05 Initiative, Dame Edith Okowa, on Friday, June 01, 2018 celebrated her 57th birthday anniversary with pupils at the Special Education Centre (School for the Handicapped), Agbor in Ika South local government area of the state.
The Governor of Delta state, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa had earlier made a surprise appearance at the office of the First Lady to celebrate with his wife, Dame Edith Okowa before leaving to embark on commissioning of completed projects in company of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
At the Special Education Centre (School for the Handicapped), Agbor, a proof that disability is not a deprivation manifested when the pupils’ performance emotional brought tears to the faces of many who attended the birthday celebration.
In an emotion laden speech, the First Lady and founder of 05 Initiative, Dame Edith Okowa, enjoined all to fufil their earthly purposes in life by affecting the lives of the less privileged and persons with disabilities.
She therefore urged the people not to relent in their efforts at giving succour to the less privileged in the state.
According to her, “Everyone of us came into the world for a purpose. We should do away with self and think about how we have fared in our relationship with God and humanity.
What matters in this world is how much you have affected the people and not how much is in your bank accounts.
“To fulfill the purpose, we need God, parents and humanitarian person to help make ends meet for the children. A child is for the whole community. All hands must be on deck to help alleviate their several challenges. No child should be despised because of disability. Your life should not always be for you and your children but for all.”
Dame Okowa also encouraged parents to continue to assist their children with disabilities and mostly teach them the word of God.
While acknowledging the efforts of the Head of the Special Education Centre, Mrs. Ezehi Francisca, she promised to take over the payment of salaries for two voluntary teachers for one year and assured that the JS1 will commence in next session in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. The two lucky teachers were said to have been paid N10,000 each monthly by the head of school through voluntary contributions by humanitarian individuals.
In her address, the Head of the Special Education Centre, Mrs. Ezehi Francisca expressed appreciation to Her Excellency who despite the position God has placed her, has humbled herself to identify with the less privileged in the society.
She said as a result of its uniqueness, the Special Education Centre has given hope to the hopeless and wiped the tears and confusion of parents and families of children with disabilities, adding that the Centre is the only school that provides educational, vocational and social needs of children with disabilities in the whole of Ika South and Ika North East local government areas of the state.
The categories of disabilities in the Centre, according to her, include the hearing impaired (deaf), the visually impaired (blind) and intellectually impaired, just as she mentioned that the children use the same curriculum with regular school and write the same terminal examinations while most of the pupils that passed out from the school with their primary school certificates had no secondary school around to continue their education.
She further mentioned the lack of a school bus as another major challenge faced by the day school, as the children trek to and from school everyday, despite their challenges, thereby facing the hazards and risk of being knocked down by vehicles.
The Chief Inspector of Education (CIE), Ika South local government area, Mrs. Joan Nwanji described the First Lady as “humility personified for leaving your exalted office to this lowly place.”
One of the parents and a pupil, Miss Blessing Okwuazu respectively, thanked Dame Okowa for coming to celebrate with them.
Highpoint of the birthday celebration was the cutting of the birthday cake, presentation of gifts to the children which includes black boards, science equipment, writing materials, toiletries, buckets, food flask, mats among others, after the rendition of the National Anthem with signs, birthday songs and cultural dance by the children with disabilities.