By Daruwana Daku
For the less privileged, physically challenged and homeless in Onitsha and states within the Southeast, every first Sunday of December is one that comes with love.
It is a day set aside by Umuchu born philanthropist and founder of Joy and Compassionate Love International Foundation, Mrs Theresa Odinaka Opara, to bring smiles on the faces of the needy, orphans, less privileged and physically challenged.
The event was held at the field of Anambra Broadcasting Service, ABS Onitsha last Sunday. Even in their state of health and social class, her foundation donated all homes, schools and less privileged with food items, clothing, and cash gifts to help ease their burden during the festive period.
Mrs Opara who saw the need of helping less privileged people, said she started with five people in her sitting room where the thought of being helpful was birthed. It was from that corner of her room, she said, that it blossomed to what it is today.
‘I started this in 2006 in my parlour with five people here in Onitsha; two out of the five are no longer alive. The group was named Channel of Blessings at that time, and I was giving them little things I could afford. From that parlour of mine, to the corridor of my house, down to the streets and field; and today, through the support of many people, I have helped a handful of less privileged, physically challenged and orphans,’ she narrated.
From Channel of Blessings, Mrs Theresa’s foundation (now registered) is doing a whole lot in providing succour to the poor.
She also attributed the growth the foundation to God’s grace and mercies, noting that it was only the grace of God that had made her to continue with altruistic acts despite many challenges.
Mrs Opara, Fides learnt, is not doing this alone as she enjoys the support of the religious and people of like minds to help drive her passion. According to her, she often visited most parishes to speak to priests about her interest of helping the needy and also to solicit for support.
Mrs Opara who explained that it was in the visit she got the attention of most priests and religious, recalled how challenging the journey had been so far, especially in the current year; even as she expressed the hope that government would support her in reaching out to as many.
For his part Rev. Fr Kelvin Eze Maduka in an exclusive interview with Fides expressed satisfaction with what the foundation was doing to humanity. He applauded Mrs Opara for what she was doing; while refuting claim of co-ownership.
‘This is a single handed foundation by Mrs. Theresa Odinaka Opara. She started it, owned it and we the priests are here to direct,’ the priest noted.
Fr Eze also said the presence of schools from far away Oji River, Nsukka and Awka, was as a result of their reaching out to them.
Among dignitaries who expressed delight at the event was, Chief Stephen Obasi who noted that the show of love to the orphans and less privileged was a sign of commonness that existed among them, regardless of one’s social class.