Rosemary Ikeakor aged 13 years was sent to a family when she turned 10, to serve as a house maid in Onitsha, Anambra State, by her poor parents. She is the sixth of her nine siblings and as a result of poverty, her father could not continue to train her in school being a civil servant down the ladder of the public service. Her mother Eucheria Ikeakor, a petty trader at Nkwo Amaenyi Market, Awka, the state capital, deals in food items.
It was against this state of hopelessness that the couple choose to send some of their children as either house maids or apprentists. But the fate of Rosemary was such that she served the family she was attached to perpetually with no access to education or apprentiship.
Deepening her woes was the level of maltreatment from the matriach of the home who subjected her to all forms of inhuman treatment without the knowledge of the man of the house. On that fateful evening Rosemary was sent to buy bread and she never came back to her Onitsha home.
Not even a police search party could find her. Weeks later a good Samaritan brought her to Okpoko Police Station, Ogbaru Local Government Area, where she met Miss Chiamaka Ogochukwu, who had come to take another young girl on bail.
The young girl in question was arrested by the Okpoko Divisional Police Office for allegedly stealing N3,200 which belonged to her mistress. “When I saw her, she looked like she has not eaten in years and when I interviewed the good Samaritan she told me that Rosemary was rescued from being gang raped by some street urchins hanging out at the banks of the Rivers Niger.
“So after I had obtained the bail of Chinonso Okoli at Okpoko Police Station, I took custody of Rosemary also and handed them over to one of the members of my Non- Governmental Organization who is a teacher”.
Miss Chiamaka further recalled that through financial assistance from public spirited individuals, the two girls were enrolled into public primary school in Onitsha, where they finished from and got into junior secondary school. Today, they are holders of the Junior Secondary School (JSSIII) Certificate. Rosemary later reunited with her parents in Awka and was taken by an aunt who lives in Asaba Delta State, where she is learning the trade of tailoring, while Chinonso is a Senior Secondary School (SSS II) Student in Owerri Imo State.
This gory tail of deprivation and in human treatment against these two teenage girls speaks volume of the fate of most young girls who are exposed to the dangers of the society. “It was at this stage that people got interested in my NGO, known as Chiamaka Ugoo Foundation and as it is now we have been receiving some form of assistance from other bigger Organizations.
“At the moment the organization has been able to assist about 125 girls through formal education and vocational training and has been carrying out counseling for women and young girls in order to make them functional members of the society,” she said.
Chiamaka continued: “Due to the need to expand the globe of our foundation, we also have activities in some parts of Lagos State. This is as a result of the fact that our NGO cuts across religion and ethnic groups in the country and you know that women are women irrespective of where they come from.
The Chiamaka Ugoo Foundation, (TCUF), is a well structured initiative solely dedicated to the total empowerment of the Girl Child and women through the proven channels of firm mentorship of the girls – child, assistance in education and skill acquisition and poverty alleviation for the women especially widows and single mothers.
The Chiamaka Ugoo Foundation, as part of its mandate, will through a well articulated approach help the girl – child redeem herself from wrong decisions and foisted circumstances in order to blossom into an adult that will serve as an epitome of brilliance and diligence, we also have a school feeding program for pupils in the slum areas.
This focus is driven by the fact that societies are upgraded when women are allowed to chart the path of self development in a wholesome manner that also covers personal hygiene, sense of worth and equality of rights.
We have given succor to the young females of Isale Akoka Area of Lagos and many more where they really needed help. One of the most emotional moments was visiting a sea side school at Bariga area of Lagos”. It is not in doubt that in Anambra State girl – child education has remained a first line charge of successive administrations in the area.
To this end the Anambra State Ministry of Education under the stewardship of Professor Kate Omenugha, who is the Commissioner for Basic Education is doing its best and would be prepared to assist both NGOs and faith based organizations in the area of girl – child education.
“I am a woman and I was once a little girl and I can appreciate what a young girl goes through in life. We have heard of cases where little girls at the age of fifteen or even thirteen years are introduced to prostitution and you can imagine what the future holds for them”.
Anambra State Commissioner for Women Affairs Mrs. Ndide Mezue told Sunday Telegraph that there have been several cases of teenage girls who were forced into early marriage by their parents due to poverty.
“Most of the times we do not allow the marriage to be contracted and we take the girls and send them to school and as I speak now we have many of them that Her Excellency Chief Mrs Eblele Obiano the first lady is seeing through school” she said.
To Miss Chiamaka Ugoo a native of Amawbia, Awka South Local Government Area, the protection and guidance of a girl – child should be paramount in the mind of the society and in the policies of government.
She posited that through such means the future of the society yet to come would be secured as according to her women form the pillars of great societies due to their roles in the families.