A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Hope’s Door Foundation (HDF), has disclosed plans to train 55 lepers in Akwa-Ibom on shoe making and set up a shoe factory for them.
This is even as the group donated 700 telephones, 600 bottles of pre-natal vitamins and 8000 sanitary pads to Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-East.
It said that it also gave out underwear, toiletries and class materials for school children in the IDPs’ camps, especially in Borno, Adamawa and Nasarawa.
The Founder of the foundation, Mrs Iby Ikotidem, made this known at a fund-raising event in Abuja on Sunday.
Ikotidem said that no fewer than 55 lepers in Ekepene Obom, Etinan Local Government Area of the state had been selected for training in the shoe-making factory.
She said 35 specially made shoes had been donated to leper colonies, and that 45 children whose parents were suffering from the disease were being provided with food, school and sanitary materials and medication.
Ikotidem said that the foundation had provided for the medical needs of 75 children of lepers and 10 adults at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital.
According to her, leprosy takes away the essence of ones being; it takes away their pride by engulfing them with shame, low self-esteem and keeps them isolated from people they love.
In his remarks, Chairman of the event, Prof. Tahir Mamman, said supporting leprosy patients needed to be brought to the front burner.
He said that the NGO was providing a critical support to a group of people that were not just neglected, but strongly avoided.
Maman, who is the Vice Chancellor of Baze University, Abuja, said the easiest way to evacuate a populated hall was to introduce a leper.
Also, the Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr Garba Abari, said the agency was passionate about the project.
While commending the initiative, Abari said that the NGO was doing part of the functions of the NOA, and pledged the support of the agency for the project.
The director-general said that the initiative was very significant as it helped to address the stigma arising from cultural and social standards.
“This is something we really need to look at; they are human beings afflicted by a curable disease that has affected their dignity.
“This initiative brings back the sense of being loved and rebuilds the dignity of the people.
“We are going to make our platform available for, especially in the area where colonies are sited, sensitisation, advocacy education and community support,” he said.