With support, disabled persons can reach peak of life – Fr. Ananwa
Rev. Fr. Anthony Chidi Ananwa is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, Anambra state. He is the founder of the Jesus Abandoned Charity Organisation, in Oraifite, Ekwusigo local government area, Anambra state. In this interview with MOKWUGWO SOLOMON, the cleric recalls how the vision of helping the poor came to him, and the journey so far.
Father, could you give a little insight about your background?
I am from UmuezopiOraifite in Ekwusigo local givernment area of Anambra state. I schooled at the All Hallows Seminary, Onitsha, Anambra state, and the Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, where I did my Philosophy and Theology. I later did my PGD and Master degree, after which I travelled to the Australian Catholic University for my Ph.D.
How did the vision of taking care of the physically challenged and the destitute came to you?
In 2009, when I returned to Nigeria to conduct research for my PhD project, I discovered that we have a lot of people abandoned to their fate by the society. These people include the aged people who cannot help themselves and do not have anybody to take care of them. The other group are little children abandoned by their parents and guardians because they are challenged physically. The other group are the tramp – people who cannot do anything without assistance from others. My attention was caught to the sufferings of these groups, because my research was centred on “Suffering in the Nigerian Situation”. It was in the course of the research that I discovered the degree of hardship ravaging people in this part of the world. Majority of the children, when they are born with deformities, are left or abandoned by those who are supposed to take care of them; and I was moved in the spirit to do something about their situations. This is how the vision came. So, when I went back to Australia, I did not allow the vision to die. I started the organisation there before I returned to Nigeria and continue it in my hometown.
What kind of upbringing do you give to these groups of people in terms of morality, education and vocation?
We have a school for them here, “Jesus Abandoned Technical and Vocational School”, where they are given free education. We give them free education because they do not have people to take care of them. We give them holistic education based on the approved school curricula.
Morally and spiritually, we celebrate the Holy Mass with them on daily basis. We say the Angelus with them. We recite the Divine Mercy, Rosary and other spiritual prayers with them. All these are aimed at building them morally and spiritually. We also pray for our benefactors and benefactresses on daily basis. We also feed and clothe them; so that they would feel accommodated as integral parts of the society.
In terms of vocational studies, we teach them different handwork. These physically challenged persons construct bicycles. They have produced as much as 30 brand new bicycles. We also teach them how to make liquid soap, perfume, mosquito repellent and bead. We also teach them how to make confectionary. They also learn computer appreciation and tailoring, as well as phone repairs, so that any of them that finishes from our school can be self-employed and useful to the wider society.
After their training, how do you integrate them into the society where they will function?
We help some of them to travel abroad for further studies. We also help some of them to get jobs in Nigeria. So, we provide for them the much we can.