Akwa Ibom indigenes resident in Arizona, United States of America have donated money for essential food items to 150 families most adversely affected by the COVID-19 shutdown of economic activities in the State. Ten families in 15 local government areas each received N10,000.
The project, tagged COVID-19 Helping Hands, was executed through the personal contributions of members of the Metro-Phoenix Chapter of the Akwa Ibom State Association of Nigeria (USA), Inc. (AKISAN) to provide financial relief to some of the most economically vulnerable families in Akwa Ibom.
Ms. Ndifreke Inyang, President of the Metro-Phoenix AKISAN, said her members felt compelled to embark on the project because while this season of COVID-19 has been challenging to everyone, some people have been affected in worse ways than others.
“The stay-at-home orders have been effective to reduce the spread of Covid-19, but it has also presented challenges in the areas of shortage of food and lack of income especially to the less privileged,” she said.
Between May 6 and May 10, volunteers acting on behalf of the Association visited 15 local government areas to distribute the funds to beneficiary families or individuals. The local government areas were: Abak, Etinan, Ibesikpo Asutan, Ibiono Ibom, Ikono, Ikot Abasi, Ikot Ekpene, Itu, Nsit Atai, Nsit Ubium, Nsit Ibom, Oron, Uruan and Uyo.
In Ibesikpo/Asutan, the Paramount Ruler, HRH Edidem Clement Ekpenyong, facilitating the distribution of N10,000 to 14 families in the area thanked members of AKISAN Metro-Phoenix for helping “at this present time of COVID-19 pandemic, which has put (many people) in a very difficult position to feed themselves and their families.”
Videos and photos sent back to AKISAN members in Arizona in the United States showed the joy of recipients of the financial assistance. Many cried in gratitude to members of Metro-Phoenix AKISAN and prayed for God’s blessings for the donors. In one instance, a woman in her 80s broke into a dance on receiving her N10,000.
Ms. Inyang, the Metro-Phoenix AKISAN President, thanked “all the donors who made this possible and the coordinators and volunteers back home who helped facilitate the distribution of the funds.”
While thanking her members for stepping up to help “the least of our brothers and sisters back in Nigeria,” she lamented the level of poverty in the State particularly among women and the elderly in the villages.
The AKISAN president said, “the photos and videos of the donations that depicted the poor condition of our people in a state as rich as ours brought tears to my eyes. People already struggling for the necessities of life have also been those most affected economically by the COVID-19 shutdown.”
She appealed to Akwa Ibom indigenes in the Diaspora and other economically well-to-do sons and daughters of the state to consider supporting needy families in their own villages” adding that “every little bit goes a long way for people who have nothing.”