Professor Martin Ohaeri Ijere (Agbawo Dike Izu of Nsu) (1929- 2006) was an erudite scholar that was very passionate about the plight of the rural dweller. The major thrust of his research work focused on building thriving rural communities and alleviating poverty.
These he tried to achieve through Education, Agriculture, Cooperatives and Community banking Initiatives, He was involved with the development of various nationwide programs like OFN Operation Feed the Nation 1978, MAMSA, DEFRI, a Better Life for Rural Women.
He was a commissioner in the then East Central State as well as in the new Imo State of Nigeria. He founded the Center for Rural Development and Cooperative at the University of Nigeria Nsukka before he retired.
In his home, he also set up the Umuanunu Multipurpose Cooperative Society. He virtually commissioned all the community banks in South Eastern Nigeria as he was a founding Director of the then National Board for Community Banks, Director Center for Rural Development and co-operatives, UNN.
The fruit of his labor and dream for a greater Nigeria is being achieved by his daughter, Ebere. The story, today, is not about Martin but about his daughter, who inherited his passion for the alleviation of poverty for the grassroots.
Ebere’s second name is Doris, which means a Gift. Her work, driven by the obsession to carry out her father’s legacy, is captured in the foundation she set up in her name, Ebere Ijere Foundation (EIF).
A non-governmental charity organization based in Switzerland and Nigeria., Ebere Ijere Foundation aims:
- To extend love, care, and compassion to the needy, especially orphans and children.
To provide material and physical assistance to the needy.
To reach out to those suffering and forgotten by society.
To help the less privileged ones in education and skills acquisition
*To promote charity and community development
- To promote literacy at all ages
To promote and empower the youth and the community in general
To foster unity and progress among members.
* To propagate positive leadership qualities and ideals.
- To create awareness and enlightenment on the youth and community
* To partner with government and non-governmental agencies to create an atmosphere for freedom, free enterprises, and egalitarian society.
The practicality of most of these objectives finds expression in the testimonies of the young Africans the foundation has lifted from the edge back to hope.
Uche Augustine Peter, aka Prince Uc, is an Artiste and a member of EIF. Before he met Mrs. Ebere Ijere, he was just a young man with talent with no one to support his music talent.
I almost committed suicide out of frustration, but after she took me in, I become more hopeful, and things have finally changed for the better.” Said Uche. From a musician with No single album, Uche now has a full album on sale and a video to back it up
According to him, EIF is solely by Mrs. Ebere Ijere Gomwalk. Like a relay baton, Uche who has been with the foundation, long enough, said EIF has also given him a platform to assist people and to learn how to help people too
“EIF has blessed me a lot in many areas of my life, and I hope the founder should be encouraged to do more as she already has a passion for helping humanity.” He said
EIF takes care of the poor and less privileged such as the homeless, widows, orphans, children who fall out of school because they could not pay their school fees, the sick, and prisoners.
Kevin Omondi is from Nairobi-Kenya, and he said EIF had done a lot not only for him but also to his little brother called Paul, and another beneficiary, Michael. Kevin is in second-year medical school in a Kenyan Univesity, and he is the Ambassador off the second chance foundation that Mrs. Ebere is creating in Kenya as well.
Before she met Kevin, he was digging gutters and selling waste to survive and hardly lived on a dollar a day. Today he aspires to be a cancer research specialist and fight against the killer disease cancer.
Paul is an orphan and HIV positive. EIF solely takes care of his medication, clothing, and education for the past three years. Michael is suffering from a kidney disease EIF also takes care of him as the organization is in the process of seeking support for an estimated $15,000; he needs for his surgery.
A native of Kogi state, Hadiza Umoru Ojochide, said she and my family have benefited even before the proper establishment of the foundation. Through the generosity of the EIF, Hadiza, who is currently in the final year of her BSc Accountancy.
I was able to gain a diploma certificate.
The impact on the lives of young Africans who have experienced Ebere’s philanthropy is captured in the testimony of her Kenyan beneficiary, Kevin, who said, “As for me, it is still a miracle. I am under the sponsorship of EIF doing my degree in Medicine.
Ebere, through EIF, takes care of my daily needs and pays for whole my education fees. EIF has changed my life and given me a second chance to view life positively and have a reason to be happy again after I had given up in life due to the many struggles and challenges I was going through. But for EIF, I could not be alive today! “
The EIF testament can be aptly described as a manifestation of the gift of mercy or the mercy of giving.
Kris Paul engaged the middle-aged Philanthropist in a chat.
KP: Talking about Hadiza now in the final year in Jos, concerning NGOs, the youth, and a nation’s security. Now, how do you think about the work of connecting these dots?
Ebere: Exactly, well as I do encourage the youths to work hard to be disciplined and stay focused, avoid things that could be detrimental to them and their future by encouraging hard work and compensating it no matter how small.
I have noticed that many who I mentor have done well. Stayed out of trouble and done well in school, such people would be responsible adults too. I look after four orphans, for now, one in medical school, this means four out of the road, out of being thieves, or rapists, or hooligans, etc.
I pay university fees for some in Nigeria; I mentor quite a few. Still, I have to be there to advise, encourage, pay for their fees, monitor them, and also help them to engage in legitimately lucrative ventures.
Through my mentorship, she makes coconut oil, sells, and also does business on the side to help her sustain herself in school instead of messing up and relying on men.
I can go on and on. Every year, we give the best student of the year a cash gift. Last year we noticed many kids saying they wanted to get it this year that they had to do their best and work harder.
KP: Is it for one or more schools. How do you mean?
Ebere: Just one, I am only me…One day it will be many. Last week I gave three cash gifts in Nsukka to the best student in French.
KP: Still on education, you are setting up a library of sorts in Ikorodu.
Ebere: Yes. I approached several schools in that part of Lagos to encourage a reading culture in secondary schools. One of the most prominent secondary schools in Switzerland, St. Georges College and American college and Haut lac, emptied their library to me and donated lots of English books. Most of them brand new. I will donate some books to Appollian secondary school as well as UNSS in Nsukka where I plan to restructure their library. I also plan to have a reading and tuition center in our office in Ikorodu where children can come and get free tuition after school and can borrow our books as well. Then I plan to put swings etc. A place being a place to have fun and learn while having fun.
My idea is to have an academy in all states of Nigeria…where we have a school library, home to orphans, a structure filled with love and security. A place is conducive enough for their mind to absorb knowledge—an all-inclusive platform.
Imagine an academy where orphans go to school free, a sports center behind for them…a shop…for others, a clinic… That is where I am going with this.
KP: You have done well in the lives of these young Nigerians.
Ebere: Great, I pray and know I will do more; it’s my calling.
KP: With the state of insecurity going on in the country today, what would you say we are not doing right within the context of non-governmental engagement of governance issues in Nigeria.
Ebere: We surely are not… Idleness, joblessness, poverty is the cause of all this.
KP: What do you expect from the youth?
Ebere: Create jobs and encourage education, like in Rwanda make education free and compulsory. Make them useful to themselves and punish all those who don’t obey the laws and policies, rich and poor, then crime will reduce. Security increases also valorize those who are trained to protect the society; the army, police e.t.c. Valorise those that instruct and teach our youths, teachers…
They are part of our problem in Nigeria. There are so many NGOs in the country that claim they are engaging one cause or the other for the good of the society.
KP: Do you believe they are doing enough to raise the bar of citizen participation in governance?
Ebere: Let’s start with if the NGOs are doing what they preach, sir.
Good, if they were, I believe Nigeria would be in a better state. The few that are genuine don’t have an easy job, so they can’t be doing enough. Don’t forget, before having an NGO, I am a senior nurse and scientist, a Writer, as well as a businesswoman. I looked after dying people for over 23 years now, so my background is different from so many that just pop up to create NGOs and say they want to do something… only a few last, many are not genuine. I know a few like that.
KP: How does it make you feel that some NGOs are making impure, the noble ideals of the NGO objective, which is to make the world a better place?
Ebere: Well, as I have learned and I know we shall all give account. I know I will one day be part of the decision-makers in my country. Then, I will strive to apply policies that will either make them buckle up or shut down. I am a kind but tough person… trained here (in Switzerland) where justice reigns… For now, we watch and pray, Nigeria is in a mess because everything goes.
God is preparing his people to put things right. They steal billions yet put people’s lives in danger.
KP: The Shiites seem to be unleashing its fury on the Nigerian state because of the continued incarceration of its leader.
KP: The youth are the foot soldiers employed to cause the ongoing mayhem.
As an authority on non- governmental interventions, what role do you think the NGO community ought to play here, to douse tension and restore sanity?
EBERE: Sanity, where there is insanity? This question can’t be answered. The country is insane, madness everywhere. Although I do not like the fact that they became a Law unto themselves disregarding the Nigerian constitution and constituted authority, I believe Nigerian Youths need to engage the system in a more forceful but creative way to engage this insane system and push these people out. Not necessarily by the force of arms but through their creative energies. In other words, they should use the God-given brains they have to stir themselves, first but positively out of poverty and then bestir the nation unto the path of peace and prosperity. But for now, it is a dangerous jungle out there fit for the fittest.
KP: Does this mean there is no hope at this point?
EBERE: The church is asleep and being fed by its enemies. Look at them… silent. Going about their ways as if nothing is happening. They should join forces, fight if they have to because its crazy praying and praying… for what? Will God come down and fight for them? God is in us.
He has already come down through us; we better do the needful. Well, most of them sorry to say, are not from God. Give me the billions they have, and I will train an army and rise to fight for the righteous. The time will come, one day, if no one does it before us.
KP: As a nurse, your passion for the youth, life, and community development must have been really strong enough to inspire you into this job. At what point in your career did you receive the call to enter this noble evangelism.
EBERE: I always knew that one day I would do this…as a child I already cared for many, in my village etc. Then, three years ago, I asked myself what I was doing here (Switzerland)… in a world so bountiful yet my people suffered…so I decided to inspire others. told me even if it’s just a few …those their lives would be changed… and as I had a father who did the same in so many ways.
I was close to him. He taught me his ways… his spirit lives through me. And as I want to hear my lord say come in…for when I was hungry, you gave me to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink…come in my child into my kingdom. At the end of it all, we come with nothing; we leave with nothing…but the lives we touch positively go with us into eternity.
By Chris Paul Otaigbe