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Silent Hero: UTMOST CARING HAND

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It was indeed a rainy day; children within her community were playing naked with protruded stomachs. They were cold and shivering after the rain and no one was there to take care of them. Their mothers had gone out in search of daily bread to feed the family. She felt touched for these children and their mothers and thought that if the mothers were well educated to empower themselves, they would give a better service to their children. She was afraid that these children might die of starvation and would not make their dream in the future. She was convinced that if only she could identify their mothers and empower them with vocational skills, there would certainly be a difference in their livelihood.

Angelista A. Esenwa is the Project Director and founder of Utmost Caring World. She is an Educationist who came to terms with the fact that poverty and ignorance are the major causes of the hardship that women, children and young people are going through within her community and country.

“I have passion for the vulnerable group - women, girls and children. It gives me an inner drive to leave them better than I met them by improving their health, economic and social status”.

She founded Utmost Caring World in 2000 with the intention of giving the utmost care to the world and that was the origin of her organization’s name.

What makes her work unique is her passion and desire for reaching out to women in the hard to reach communities of Lagos, Imo and Delta States of Nigeria. These communities are hard to reach because you have to go by boat on the water or by some type of tough road. They are off the development plan and government projects, with few educated ones living among them. She has empowered women within these communities through educative vocational skills programs like catering, computer skills, hairdressing, tailoring and hat and bead making. She also trains them in reproductive health and human rights issues, personal hygiene and other related health programs.

From UNICEF report, every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 under-five year olds and 145 women of childbearing age. This makes the country the second largest contributor to the under–five and maternal mortality rate in the world. Malnutrition is the underlying cause of morbidity and mortality of a large proportion of children under-5 in Nigeria. It accounts for more than 50 % of deaths of children in this age bracket.

For Esenwa, maternal and child mortality is a result of ignorance and poverty. She dedicated her life to motivating, educating, re-orientating and equipping women and their children with information, skills and opportunities necessary for healthy and productive lifestyles. People with low incomes, particularly those who live in poverty, face specific challenges in maintaining their health. They are more likely than those with higher incomes to become ill and to die at younger ages.

Professionally, she is a teacher and counselor and her work has led her to become a care giver. Angelista spends the greater percentage of her income towards education for girls who are orphans and vulnerable. She has succeeded to train 5 girls out of secondary school and they are now in a tertiary institution. More than 150 women trained within her working communities are now empowered with vocational skills and are economically empowered to take care of their families and siblings. She is overwhelmed when the girls and women speak positively about the impact of her work within their community. They embrace the programs enthusiastically.

One major challenge in some of her project communities is that the community leaders are yet to understand fully why they should give their support to women empowerment. To overcome this challenge, she involved more women stakeholders in her advocacy visit to stress the need for these training for women and its outcome to the development of the community.

Angelista, a mother of five girls says, "I want to see women standing together with men and not seen as second class citizens". She wants freedom for the girl- child development. “I want to see women raise their voices, have economic power to make their choices and happily to contributing developmental issues”.

The vast majority of the world's poor are women. Two-thirds of the world's illiterates are female. Of the millions of school age children not in school, the majority are girls. Because of this she engages women in adult education literacy classes teaching entrepreneurial skills to manage their businesses. Women are the hardest working class people and shoulder the burden of taking care of their families yet they are systematically denied the resources, information and freedom of action they need to fulfill this responsibility. They are most times not involved in decision-making issues for example in issues of water and sanitation which women in this part of the world bear the greatest burden, they are usually neglected in decision-making along this line.

In 2005, I met Esenwa as a trainer in Reproductive and Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS. We were deployed to different states to train Youth Corps Member by UNICEF/NYSC. After reading her organization’s handbook, I was inspired by her work and person. She has been on my contact list all these years until I relocated to a new community in Lagos, Nigeria, where she resides. My desire to start up my personal project to purse my vision for women and girls lead me to her for guidance.

Angelista is a good motivator and was pleased with my vision so enlisted me as a volunteer with her organization to get involved in her projects. Her journey is adventurous with passion and action. I have learned her real concern for gender development. Surely, her work can be replicated because it is an effective tool for women's empowerment in all ratifications.

"Study after study has taught us that there is no tool more effective for development than the empowerment of women." - UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 30 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

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Comments

Dando's picture

great job

so powerful a woman is Angelista. Her work is so good and she really is a blessing to women and a gift to children.

I am encouraged and inspired by her work. Am glad you are working with her and learning a lot from her. soon your dream and vision will be fulfilled....

Best........

Dando

vivian's picture

Yes, my dream will be fulfilled

Thank you Dando for taking time to read my post. Angelista is really a blessing to women within my community and to me too. Am glad to associate with her. She is such a kind hearted woman and she truly have a passion for others.

She told me that she once used her daughter's school fee to carry out a project and apologized to the husband so as to be refunded to get the school fee back. Am so happy to have her.

Best Wishes.

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Corine Milano's picture

Thank you, Vivian, for

Thank you, Vivian, for bringing Angelista's story and vision to PulseWire! How wonderful that you now plan to volunteer for her organization...

vivian's picture

Dear Corine, Thank you for

Dear Corine,

Thank you for visiting my journal and reading my assignment. I am glad to be a volunteer with Utmost Caring World. It is a great opportunity for me to learn and implement. Angelista is such a hard working woman with great passion for her women.

Best Wishes

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Sarvina's picture

Hi Vivian, Well-done with

Hi Vivian,

Well-done with this final one. Really love your work!!

Love,
Sarvina

Regards,

Sarvina from Cambodia
VOF 2011 Correspondent

vivian's picture

Thank you so much, am

Thank you so much, am grateful

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Ruun Abdi's picture

Well done sis and

Well done sis and congratulations.

Cheers

vivian's picture

Thank uuuuuuuuuuu so much

Thank uuuuuuuuuuu so much

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Iffat Gill's picture

This is a good piece Vivian.

This is a good piece Vivian. Your hero reminds me of the early days of my social work within the local community. It is such an enriching experience to work with grass-root communities for their uplift. I also started vocational training programs which had a visible impact in the community. Hope she keeps getting success in doing this challenging work.

Best.

Iffat Gill

vivian's picture

she was so happy when she was

she was so happy when she was narrating her work to me during the interview and she felt so proud of the impact of her work. Thank you for visiting my journal. Well done also in your assignment

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

vivian's picture

she was so happy narrating

she was so happy narrating her work during the interview and felt do proud of the impact of her work. Thank you for visiting my journal. Well done also in your assignment

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

mrbeckbeck's picture

Congratulations Vivian! Thank

Congratulations Vivian!

Thank you for sharing this woman's story. She is a real change-maker, and through your writing the world can learn about her, and the work she is doing to help women and children in Nigeria.

I look forward to hearing about the projects you work on with Utmost Caring World... I'm sure they will make a big impact!

Best,
Scott

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Volunteer

vivian's picture

Am so delighted to have you

Am so delighted to have you read my work. The problem with development work in Nigeria is that those who are doing the real work are not finding the fund to continue their work while those who are not working have the connections and links to funding. Angelista said to me, "I once used my daughter's school fee to carry out one of my project and when my husband found out he laughed knowing my passion for my work and refunded the money."

I am planning toward replicating her vocational training in another local govt of Lagos state.

Thank you Scott for visiting my journal.

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Potter's picture

Thanks, Vivian

What a pleasure to meet Angelista through your profile of her. It was interestng to read that you are also involved in her work. It is clear that you have a strong conviction that empowering women is a key to development, peace and justice in our world. (A key to sanity in our world!) Keep it up! There are so many of us cheering for you.

vivian's picture

Hello my friend, You have

Hello my friend,

You have just made my day by letting me know that many are cheering for me. I thank God for this program, it is bringing the best out of me.

When I.was seeking admission to get into the university. I wanted to study Medicine just to save life and counsel people but my younger brother said "you need to study how to write articles an books since that is what you do everyday". I did not know that he usually read some of my write ups. I write my daily story or everything that comes to my mind. I finally studied Physiology because I did not meet the admission requirement for medicine. Today am back to writing again and am so happy my writing inspires my readers.

Thanks for always visiting my journal

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Potter's picture

My pleasure!

Your brother gave you good advice. I'm sure you would have been an effective and compassionate doctor. You are very clearly a writer! Keep it going!

vivian's picture

Thank you so much for being

Thank you so much for being there for me.

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Mursal Hamraz's picture

Perfect!

Dear Vivian,

Your piece of writing is perfect. Finishing all the finals of my first semester, and finally getting free time to read through the gifted VOF women's assignments, is really relaxing and enjoyable for me. Your woman is in fact a great, thoughtful person. The priorities she has chosen (poverty, ignorance) are in fact really important matters to be considered by everyone who wants to empower women. And as your woman said, economy is a big issue that women face; it in fact is same for women activists in Afghanistan as well. I am really happy for you for joining with her to pursue your joined goals.
My very best wishes,

Mursal

vivian's picture

Thank you Mursal Am glad to

Thank you Mursal

Am glad to hear that my piece is perfect, i never thought of it as perfect. Am happy to have interviewed Angelista and to find out the basis of her organization as poverty and ignorance. This is a fact especially in a country like Nigeria. Most women and ingnorance of what they should know and this limit their chances of moving forward in life. They need to be informed by those are concerned.

Thank you for reading my assignment

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Mola's picture

Wonderful!!

Vivian, your story is fantastic! I love your obvious admiration for Esenwa and also your deep connection to the women and children in the story. As an informative piece, you have done an excellent job of drawing clear connections between Esenwa's work and vision and an improved world future. You are clearly inspired by your interviewee, and Esenwa is extremely motivated to work toward empowering women. The story firmly locates Esenwa's work in a world that desperately needs it, illustrating the importance of the issue to the reader!

Thank you so much for your hard work on completing this assignment so well! It was a wonderful gift to read!

vivian's picture

Dear Mola, I should be the

Dear Mola,

I should be the one thanking you for taking time to read up my work. I appreciate your kind comment. It was really a hard work like you pointed out but I take it as a learning process and I indeed enjoyed it and truly feel like carrying out more interview and write more profile of women who are silence development workers.

Thank you for being there.

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Nancy J. Siegel's picture

Utmost Caring Hand

Terrific profile! Angelista W. Esenwa comes through as an inspiring leader who is doing remarkable work--all while caring for five daughters (maybe sons, too, although they are not mentioned)! You have painted a strong portrait of an amazing woman.

Nancy Siegel

vivian's picture

compliment of the season

Dear Nancy,

I have been away for the holiday that is the reason for replying late. Thank you for taking time to read my first month assignment on world pulse which unveil the work of Angelista. Yes, she have five daughters and no son. Am so delighted to have learnt about her work and has her as my role model.

Happy New Year Ma.

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Marvelous

Marvelous work Vivian!

It sounds like Angelista has undertaken work in an area ignored by government and NGOs. I would love to know more about how she is able to carry out her work. Does she get funding from the government? Does she have a training center? How is she supporting your vision?

Great first assignment and I look forward to reading more!

Kind regards,

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

vivian's picture

her response

To get a factual answer to your questions, I send it to Angelista and this is her response

"Thank you. The person is right. This area is being ignored. I have not received any funding from government both local govement and national. My vision and passion for it are my driving factors.Nevertheless, African Women Development Fund and Global Fund for women have funded our projects and they believe in us. Board members of UCW have also supported us. My family has been a strong pillar in terms of funding,, making a lot of sacrifices to see that the vision thrives and reaches more vulnerable people.

We have a training centre in delta state and desiring and planing for another in Lagos state. We have not been able to meet up the cost."

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

Rudzanimbilu's picture

Very inspirational

I'm sorry for reading this now Vivian, Angelista is a gift to us as human beings and you have captured her giving spirit so well. The fact that she has sustained her work for over 10 years is something especially in our communities. Thank you for finding a leader that we can all try and emulate as we seek change in this world. Well done my sister!

Rudzanimbilu Muthambi

vivian's picture

Wow! You are back, where have

Wow! You are back, where have you been. It been a long time. Hope all is well with you and the kids. Nice to have you back on WP.

Thanks for taking time to read my 1st month assignment and to post your comment. Angelista is really a women to emulate.

I am actually battling to write my frontline story now. Hope you are still with us as a correspondence on VOF?

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

My sister I am back after suffering so much ordeal. I know you will write something great for your frontline journal because you are great Viv. I am back now and things are going okay I guess and like you I'm having trouble deciding on the angle but with the help of my editorial midwife and mentor I should be fine. I wish you all the best in 2011 Vivian and I am looking forward to reading your first draft and even if it takes me a while, I will post because I enjoy reading your inspiring work.

Take care of yourself and all the best,

With so much love....

Rudzanimbilu Muthambi

vivian's picture

O rud,thank God the ordeal is

O rud,thank God the ordeal is over and you can still face the world and continue life. Once there is life there is hope my sister. I trust our editiories and mentors. They are well selected and they are wonderful and powerful women. Sure you will pick up. Can wait to read your newset post.
Welcome back sister.

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

HARMONY's picture

You are blessed

You are blessed to have such a woman near you. Working for women and children is such a noble task and you will succeed in your dream.
Your woman is fabulous and a blessing to her communities! Don't leave her until you are sure you have received all training or knowledge from her!

Wish you all the best sister!

Trust your HOPES, not your fears... Harmony

vivian's picture

encouraging words

Compliment of the season,

Thank you so much for you advice. I will certainly not leave her until I learn and learn from her. I even visited her yestaday. I am truly blessed and lucky to have her.

How is your country's situation and your month two assignment. It is not very easy writing a frontline story. I have been on it still today. Will post soon.I look forward to read others.

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

vivian's picture

encouraging words

Compliment of the season,

Thank you so much for you advice. I will certainly not leave her until I learn and learn from her. I even visited her yestaday. I am truly blessed and lucky to have her.

How is your country's situation and your month two assignment. It is not very easy writing a frontline story. I have been on it still today. Will post soon.I look forward to read others.

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

HARMONY's picture

Not easy indeed

I just posted my month two assignment.
For my country, read my post, I think you will be able to understand something because me i still try to understand what is going on...

Trust your HOPES, not your fears... Harmony

vivian's picture

Yes, I just saw it and I gone

Yes, I just saw it and I gone through it. I will definitely read it now if my battery continue to stay alive and post my comment.

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

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